Pioneering buying at a sale with intricacies – Turf Talk: 6 November 2017
ON 24 October 2016 this article, The Biggest Sale Of Its Kind In The World appeared in this column all about the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale.
Tempus Fugit. Here follows a different slant on the 2017 sale last week – even larger and longer than its 2016 renewal. Lots 1 – 1753 were catalogued from Monday October 30th at 0930 until much of the way through Friday November 3rd after which 45 yearlings in “Book 4” took us through until mid afternoon.
The first day had 420 catalogued which means 16-17 hours selling. But it doesn‟t. Tattersalls and we know that there will be more withdrawals in a single day than in some South African sales sessions. 121 came out of the Monday leaving a normal day of 300 to go through.
Early entries create the situation – there being such a huge cataloguing job to do not only for the sales company but thereafter for such as Timeform who, from their weekly reports on every horse in the country, cut & paste into a smart (expensive) guide that mirrors the catalogue. Owners change their minds in the long intervening time and withdraw.
Many people refer first and foremost to the Timeform guide. I carry the catalogue (the size of a brick) and a satchel with the 300+ page Timeform, pre-colour coordinated lot by lot for potential buyers and marked for withdrawals; plus an iPad to show race replays and pen pictures on every runner in every race.
The sire is far less important at this in-training stage although the whole pedigree is a key ingredient when analysing what a 2 year old might become after a few months unstressed and in designating what to inspect. Beyond that, Timeform saves a lot of time by telling you that (for example) blinkers or a visor have been worn.
Many buyers will put a line through anything that has worn blinkers because of the direct association with being ungenu-ine. That is not the case in South Africa where repetitive training and racing venues demand means of making some horses concentrate earlier. Sure. Same in the U.S. Secretariat wore blinkers and was quite good.
But try persuading buyers coming to the UK where blinkers are “last resort” and more uncommon.
As we have illustrated many times, inspections go on throughout sales as horses rotate in, out and in through the week. It‟s 10.30 am on Tuesday. Twenty five have gone through. Your next lot of interest is thirty lots ahead giving an hour plus to walk a mile and see (say) six horses for Wednesday afternoon that have just come in. But no! There are twelve withdrawals between now and that next lot of interest. No time!
Change the plan. Flip to the boxes-in-geographical-rotation-guide and see what we marked at midnight the night before and are stabled more handily. On one‟s own this is all easy. But having a group of individual buyers present including first-timers is like herding cats.
Trainers (who do not sell anywhere else) mostly hate Horses in Training Sales. Some are indolent. If their owners knew how late they brought their horses in, wasting inspectors‘ time, and how little commitment they showed, they would scream.
On the other hand, many trainers are excellent, making themselves or an efficient selling manager readily available to answer questions. A number have given up this rather stressful and sometimes unfulfilling task by selling through consignment companies that are superbly professional and take away the pain.
A key part of selection is asking the right (busy) people the right (brief) questions and knowing enough of them to trust the answers.
On Thursday and Friday, selling begins at 10.00 am giving us an extra half hour of daylight to do what we need to do having – inevitably – fallen behind.
You won‟t fall behind if dealing with one or two orders. In my case last week? Four buyers present and two overseas. No wonder my legs ache. By 3.30pm on Fri-day we had bought fourteen horses on lim-ited budgets and had probably under-bid on twenty others, going into the ring for purpose but looking oh-so-casual about it. The experienced team of rostrum spotters knows who might go for what. That‟s fine – they give nothing away and it helps. Just stay out of the eye-line of some vendors.
My buyers have to have balls. No geldings. Metaphorically speaking it‟s a virility thing – and actually it‟s for the purpose of run-ning in Derbies, whether Moscow, Almaty, Astana, Bishkek, Tashkent or wherever.
They will never be gelded but many colts in these countries get to be “Village Stallions” even in the outposts of Cossack-type horse people.
They may only sire a few foals a year, but they have their trysts. Some sweet stories come out of this.
Last week I bought a 3 year old from The Ritz owned by the Gods. By that I mean that he was trained by Jim Bolger for Godolphin. This fellow has not raced. You can see why and we can deal with that. He is by Teofilo out of a Royal Academy mare. He is a 3-parts brother to a Saint Cloud Group 1 winner. His dam is half-sister to the brilliant EVA LUNA. We‟ll have some of that please.
After buying him I had jumping boys offering profit because they‟d missed him. Tough. Stay awake.
We went to take a few snaps after we bought him. The Bolger boys have been all over the world with some of the best horses on the planet. Their polite but not very interested demeanour changed when one asked me if we would geld him and jump him. I said “No he will race but then have a jump of a different kind”.
All of them clustered round the big dark bay, slap-ping his neck, rubbing his ears and celebrating the
fact that he will “get a chance” (to mate with a young lady).
I can‟t repeat a single word of the language but we all had a laugh and the horse realised that he was – at last – doing something right.
Leg-ache must disappear. When you read this we shall be on the road a couple of hundred miles north to Goffs UK (Doncaster) for three more sale days then a late night drive back south for Ascot‟s one day sale which includes another bunch from Godolphin and Shadwell.
Mission? To fill a couple more lorries for export with a few decent ones and a bunch of low cost future local champions. These purchases last year (and February Sales) kept up our record of winning most of the local Derby, Oaks, 2000 & 1000 Guineas and some other Cups. Full set in 2017.
We accounted for four of the thirty-plus countries buying and made the first ever bloodstock buys in the UK for Kyrgyzstan and their new racecourse.
This excites me for pioneering reasons and because I shall see these guys at the World Nomad Games at Cholpon-Ata in August 2018. Something else, believe me! – tt.