What There Is To See and Hear (Part 1) – Turf Talk: 13 November 2016


In Part 1 of What There Is To See and Hear, our columnist takes us on a guided tour through the historic racing town of Newmarket, UK.

FOR an intensive first time visit to any important racing centre, be it Newmarket or in Ireland or the Western Cape, the best time is when sales are not happening.

For this reason, a two nights and one and a half day first visit to Newmarket last week – made with us by special people who are serious about investing in bloodstock internationally – afforded a great opportunity for “seeing and hearing” at Headquarters where 350 years of thoroughbred racing is being celebrated in tandem with Tattersalls’ 250 years in business.

I shall not name or “drop” names from amongst our friends of many years who run or nearly run many of Newmarket’s institutions. But this will be a “taster” for those who have not seen what there is to see and absorb.

Early morning work means being up with the lark and out on the 3,500 acres exclusively devoted to training grounds, split between one side of the town and the other. Starting at a training yard at first light, seeing the riders being legged up by the trainer, visitors enjoy the cheerful politeness of a team dressed– at this time of the year –for the cold.

While the horses used the lattice of horsewalks through the town to get to the Severals Trotting Rings near the Clock Tower, we jumped into the trainer’s car and beat them to it. First time visitors love the sight of strings of race- horses crossing roads where “Horses First” rules the traffic, often heavy, always indulgent.

On this particular morning, ours crossed their second road onto the bottom of Long Hill then walked up to cross again to the top of Side Hill where we were waiting. The walk-trot-walk  for approaching half an hour constitutes a traditional Newmarket warm-up, with the opposite happening on the way home. The trainer will drive up alongside, check each one out and adjust the walking speeds so that they are properly relaxed.

Seeing part of the Heath in action – and enjoying views from on high back across town or south to the big studs – leads seamlessly to a good cup of tea, followed by a driving tour of the rest of the historic training grounds including the two racecourses to see the unique topography.

(An earlier article in this series describes the new hill to be built on Racecourse Side).

Driving past the historic Limekilns where the Derby Trials take place, and past the Animal Health Trust research centre, we soon come to the turning towards Lanwades Stud.

Lanwades is owned and general-managed by Kirsten Rausing who is the head of a global business empire and is also a hard-working and greatly influential mainstay of the bloodstock industry.

She owns three main studs in England and Ireland. As with many prominent breeders, her weanlings in England are moved over to Ireland to grow up on that land.

Miss Rausing continues to invest in South Africa through a project managed by ourselves, in spite of being bluntly accused in the South African trade press of single-handedly blocking SA AHS efforts, a damaging piece of undiplomatic nonsense.

At Lanwades some of the finest families in the Stud Book have been developed, and the stallions are in Newmarket.

Having lost their star SELKIRK to old age and LEROIDESANIMAUX (sire of Animal Kingdom) to an accident, Lanwades is rebuilding excitingly.

Gentle off season exercise canter around that large expanse paved the way for a couple to work fast
the next day, being amongst the minority staying for polytrack/ tapeta racing through the winter. Most were already off, or about to go off, to their winter breaks “being horses” with their heads down, stretching their necks and backs for six weeks or so at spelling farms around the town.

New boy BOBBY’S KITTEN (Breeders Cup Turf Sprint by the red hot KITTEN’S JOY) is a very impressive fellow who has joined Derby winner SIR PERCY whose commerciality is undoubted. He has a few southern time offspring in South Africa, one bought in utero by us for our clients, inside a Brazilian Gr2+3 winner. This writer is besotted by one of the greatest of all broodmare sires DARSHAAN, and very keen on his son MARK OF ESTEEM in the same role. SIR PERCY is a son of the latter.

Bobby’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy) Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Gr1 winner a new Newmarket
Stallion standing at Lanwades.

ARCHIPENKO raced at high level in Dubai, Hong Kong, England and USA in part South African ownership after being bought from Coolmore and before Sheikh Khalifa bought everyone out. There are plenty of his babies coming on stream in South Africa via our clients and he is the top sire standing in GB of 2 year olds (winners to runners) as well as a Gr1 winner in Kirsten Rausing’s colours.

SEA THE MOON, a big chap who won the German Derby by 11 lengths, was the first son of SEA THE STARS to go to stud. Covering 3 -figure books, he has every chance.

On Duchess Drive, we find Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall. There, we must use the word “Godolphin” much more than before. In the recent changes – or Sheikh-Up if you like – “Darley” now only applies to the stallions, not the rest of breeding which like the racing is under “Godolphin”. With bright blue signs having replaced the red ones, one wonders how long the word “Darley” will remain at all. The new office block also signals the changes.

Of the non-shuttling stallions, we saw the “three big ones”. One is very big with a very big fee but very small. Standing for £250,000 or about 4.5 million rand, one of the best sires in the world is always a shock to first time viewers. DUBAWI is a little chap. But he is DUBAWI. He was shown beside the lawns of the expansive stallion area where the fabled social-event-of-the-year the “Darley Brunch and Stallion Parade” is held.

Next was NEW APPROACH – who does well in South Africa – a GALILEO Derby Winner whose first crop included three Royal Ascot 2 year old winners. Standing (as an overenthusiastic result) for £60,000 he will be back to £30,000 next season. His fillies for stud are – in my view – extraordinary opportunities.

New Approach

Then on to GOLDEN HORN, last year’s Derby Winner and much more. The son of CAPE CROSS who of course sired OUIJA BOARD and SEA THE STARS enjoyed the attention. Also a £60,000 sire, he has no shortage of support.

Our visitors were then given a tour throughout the enormous entirety that is Dalham Hall plus about seven surrounding farms subsequently purchased and provided with new barns and fencing. The boundaries are invisible; the extent of it mind-boggling.

This “taster” will be continued next week including Cheveley Park, Tattersalls, The National Stud and Banstead Manor (Juddmonte) the home of not only FRANKEL but of other high end stallions, and a fun evening at Abington Place having paid homage to SMART CALL. – tt