As one significant door closes

Ballymacoll dispersal represents a golden opportunity

Towards the end of this year, a dispersal at Tattersalls will bring to a close a racing and breeding operation whose colours have become synonymous with excellence.

Ballymacoll Stud, once owned by the colourful Dorothy Paget who reportedly never visited the farm, has thrived under the stewardship of the Weinstock family since its purchase in the early 1960s by Lord Weinstock’s father-in-law Sir Michael Sobell.
The Derby winners Troy and North Light were bred there, the latter claiming the Epsom Classic in 2004, two years after the death of Lord Weinstock.

Since then, the stud’s longstanding and highly respected manager Peter Reynolds has maintained the highest of standards that have led to a continuation of top-flight winners around the world: Islington, Spectrum, Conduit, Pilsudski, Fiorente and Golan among them. It will doubtless be with a heavy heart that he fulfils his final duty for the operation by overseeing the dissolution of the farm’s bloodstock.

Of course those bloodlines won’t disappear. The dispersal of one operation is merely the founding or enhancing of others, but for anyone who has enjoyed watching countless good winners over the years in those pale blue and yellow silks, this is another sad step away from the glory days of the major owner-breeders.

As this issue was going to press, we heard the news that Philippa Cooper is to sell her Normandie Stud in Sussex. Happily, this does not mean that she is putting an end to her breeding interests – the Normandie mares will board at other farms in Britain, Ireland and France and we will doubtless still see plenty of decent winners in the pink and white.

Meanwhile, the Dubawi colt out of Cooper’s Group 1 Coronation Stakes winner Fallen For You, who, at 2.6 million guineas shared top billing with a Dubawi colt bred by Meon Valley Stud at last year’s Tattersalls October Sale, has been named Glorious Journey but has yet to be assigned to a Godolphin trainer.

One hundred not out
This month the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association celebrates its centenary with the launch of a book detailing its 100-year history. On pages 42-46 of this magazine, Tony Morris outlines the circumstances that led to the initially turbulent formation of the TBA, and Morris, a former member of the TBA Council and winner of the prestigious Devonshire Award, is one of a number of contributors to the centenary book along with David Oldrey, Sue Montgomery, Nancy Sexton, John Berry and Jeremy Early.

Somerville Tattersall was the inaugural treasurer of the TBA and he and the founding members would likely be astounded at the ferocity of the trade at the recent Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up Sale, which followed similarly strong markets at their respective levels during the preceding fortnight at Ascot and Goffs UK.

These ‘ready to run’ sales are a far cry from the young stock auctions of the early 20th century but they nevertheless are now hugely important for the yearling market, with the breeze-up pinhookers forming a strong buying sector that will likely be strengthened further still this autumn.

As the excitement of the Craven Sale subsided, the two-year-old action returned to Florida, where two breezers posted new record times over a furlong of :9 3/5 seconds. The issue of timing breezes remains a thorny one on these shores and, as one agent wisely pointed out, there are no races over two furlongs, so asking a youngster to go as fast as he can over that distance is fairly futile.

More important is that horses show that they have the ability to cope with the early training, both mentally and physically. If so, the connections of those who breeze well stand to be rewarded handsomely.

It was gratifying, however, to hear fewer buyers of the more expensive lots obsessing over the speed of the breeze and focusing instead on other elements. The horses’ days in the sun should, after all, come on a racecourse and not in the sales ring.

The Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Daban provided a timely advertisement for the sector during the Craven Sale, for she had been purchased only 11 months previously at the Tattersalls Guineas Sale.

Handled patiently by John Gosden, she is now unbeaten in two starts, having made her debut in November. She is an enticing prospect, and as a filly her residual value as a future broodmare will make it easier to swallow that even now as a Group 3 winner, she has won only £37,261 – roughly a seventh of her 260,000gns sales price.

Hopefully the often huge imbalance between amounts paid for some horses and their potential earnings in this country is an issue that will continue to be addressed once extra funding is made available through the levy replacement system.

Latest from this author