Looking beyond Ascot to UK-style July Week – Turf Talk: 19 June 2017

Racegoers relax in the car park at Ascot.

Racegoers relax in the car park at Ascot.

SHORTLY before my flight from Cape Town landed at Heathrow at 6am this morning (= Sunday = yesterday when you read this) the captain had informed us that the temperature was 19 degrees. He remarked that this was quite respectable for London, bringing a titter of laughter from here and there in the cabin.

What he meant in typical understatement was that 19 degrees at 5.30 a.m. is high. He neglected to mention that the mercury the day before had gone over 30 degrees and would do so again, and probably again, before “dropping” to a predicted high of 28 on the first day – the best day – of Royal Ascot.

A few weeks back, Turf Talk published my piece about Royal Windsor Racecourse. I wrote about it instead of the more obvious Ascot. As I sat outside today, with the house shielding that area from direct sun, I thought about the fabulous week of the Royal Meeting about to start.

I recalled the brilliant times together with wonderful South African friends enjoying a day at Royal Ascot for the first time, capped by the unique experience of after-racing car park parties amongst the trees for the racing and breeding fraternity joining together from around the world.. That could be an article I thought… but the world and his wife will be writing about Ascot…

Soon, the house no longer blocked the sun. Our two black dogs lay panting as they cooked – like daft mares standing in the middle of kamps in Wellington or Robertson in not 30+ but 40+ degrees, with shade trees available nearby, ignored.

Moving inside, I saw a package of Tattersalls July Sales catalogues through which had already “gone” on-line. But there’s nothing like a real book – in this case of 910 midrange Lots of broodmares, fillies and horses in training, selling 12-14 July.

Tattersalls July Sales has been a happy hunting ground for those, with us, who have sought out sensibly priced international imports for South Africa. Structures are tailored to achieve economies.

“July Week” is a top class festival with Group 1 racing on the lovely July Course at Newmarket, plus sales at Tattersalls with an international gathering, and with plenty of sights (the new Museum and Centre is outstanding). Stallions galore are still in residence – just before disappearing into quarantine to shuttle in their dozens to Australasia and South America. Except Juddmonte stallions like Kingman, Dansili and Frankel, or the more reasonably priced Bated Breath. Juddmonte has never shuttled and probably never will. There are other attractive non-shuttlers as well, in England and Ireland, a number of whom have played a role in our exports to SA.

Most of our inspecting and purchasing time is spent without the client making the journey. The cry of thousands of owners, breeders and trainers with regard to their managing agents is “Why buy a dog and bark yourself?”. But either way is fine – visits are always good. A meeting of minds actually pre-sent at July Sales has resulted in some fine bargains and considerable success.

Some of the most productive July Sales buys for SA have been fillies or barren mares which can either go to SA quickly for racing and/or breeding or to UK/Irish stallions southern time with minimal delay. Some July fillies have won in SA. Half-sisters to Gr1 winners have cost modest money, making the “delivered cost” manageable.

The Courtyard, National Horseracing Museum.

The Courtyard, National Horseracing Museum.

As to the few available barren mares, who in the north wants to buy one in July with the season recently ended? But we in the south do with good research into the reasons for barrenness and the option of treatments such as laparoscopic application of PG directly to the ovaries used with success.

Nevertheless, there will be no shortage of buyers for fare this year that includes some of the Ballymacoll dispersal, and plenty from Godolphin, Shadwell, Cheveley Park and many others.

The markets may seem to show strong year-on-year gains, but some of that is because of sterling’s current weakness (including against the rand) and the weight of overseas buying. Whilst the Breeze Up sales of racehorses were indeed phenomenal, there will be a degree of caution on the domestic breeding side because the disease of over-production has broken out to an extent.

Flowers at the July course entrance, sponsored by Castlebridge.

Nevertheless, there will be no shortage of buyers for fare this year that includes some of the Ballymacoll dispersal, and plenty from Godolphin, Shadwell, Cheveley Park and many others.

It will be bright until ten this evening, so we shall enjoy the setting sun at that time – only three days before the Summer Solstice when the druids have their biggest day at Stonehenge – and we shall be in the Ascot car parks… – tt

Allan Bloodlines