The sales calendar is an ever-evolving beast and this year sees two brand new auctions tied in to major racing festivals.
Brightwells, which has done a great job in creating a market for ‘boutique’ jumpers-in-training sales, has added an extra date to its list with a select auction set to take place on the Thursday evening at Cheltenham during the Festival (March 13).
But it is Goffs that has really stolen the show, with the announcement of its London Sale at The Orangery at Kensington Palace on the Monday of Royal Ascot week (June 16).
“We considered a number of central London venues but this was the one we settled on and it’s a beautiful setting,” said Goffs’ Chief Executive Henry Beeby. “The plan is to hold the sale mid- to late-afternoon so it doesn’t interfere with other events, such as the GBR party. There’ll be a reception in the Orangery and we are aiming for it to have a garden party feel, a bit like a Royal Ascot picnic, rather than a more formal function.”
The sale itself will consist of breezers and form horses, with some of the latter, it is hoped, potentially holding entries for Ascot.
“We’ve discussed this with the BHA and they are prepared to work with us regarding any transfer of ownership,” Beeby added.
As was the format for Goffs’ March breeze-up sale, which is not being staged this year, horses will be breezed on the Polytrack at Kempton over the weekend prior to the sale, with video footage available on the Goffs website. The horses can be viewed at the racecourse, where they will parade as they are sold, with a live video link to be shown at The Orangery and bid-spotters also in place at Kempton for any agents who wish to be there.
Family matters for Westlake
The wait for Frankel’s first foal is over, though it’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last of Frankel fever, which will be inflamed again once the foal sales start later in the year. With his three-parts brother and former lead horse Bullet Train ensconced in Kentucky, there’s an intriguing new addition to the stallion ranks in Britain. Westlake, a ten-year-old half-brother to Frankel’s dam Kind, by Frankel’s grandsire Sadler’s Wells, has been recruited by Andrew Spalding’s Hedgeholme Stud in Country Durham.
A full-brother to Powerscourt, who won the Arlington Million and Tattersalls Gold Cup, Westlake raced six times for Dermot Weld, winning his final three starts to achieve a rating of 99. He was part of the Juddmonte draft at the 2008 Tattersalls Horses-in-Training Sale, where he was sold for 12,000gns to Qatari owner Abdulaziz Ali Abdullah Al Kathiri. He will return to Tattersalls on February 6, though this time he is not for sale. Westlake is one of 13 stallions appearing at the TBA Stallion Parade, which takes place on the morning of the February Sale.
“We’ve had him here only since Christmas but he’s a really good-looking horse and I’m looking forward to showing him to breeders at Tattersalls,” said Spalding, who was made aware of Westlake by his friend Conrad Allen.
“We decided it was worth giving him a chance on pedigree alone and it gives smaller breeders an opportunity to use this bloodline.”
Allen, who trains in Newmarket and was previously based in Qatar, still operates on behalf of a number of Qatari owners. He said: “I knew Westlake’s owner as I buy horses for one of his friends. He asked me to look the horse up and see if there was anything I could do, and when I did, I thought ‘wow’. They bought him pre-Frankel and have decided to give him a chance at standing in England.”
Westlake raced a further three times in Qatar and has already covered mares privately, with a small number of yearlings and foals on the ground in that country.
Racing is just the first chapter
As most racehorses retire before they have even reached double digits in age, they will generally have plenty of years of active life ahead, even if not suitable for breeding purposes. Placing the right horse in the right home with the right rider is thus one of the most important tasks faced by their owners and trainers.
Happily, a number of organisations, headed by Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), are dedicated to doing just this and many racing yards take it upon themselves to find homes for their ex-racehorses. One trainer’s wife who works tirelessly in this cause is Pippa Boyle, who set up Jim Boyle’s Ex-Racehorses 11 years ago and has rehomed more than 100 horses in that time.
While many of us were nursing hangovers, Pippa and a team of four riders and former racehorses took part in the All The Queen’s Horses parade in London on New Year’s Day. Six-year-olds Isingy Red (Charlotte Bruton) and Regal Approval (Torie Joyce) were joined by seven-year-old Tatawor (Nat Warren) and led by 21-year-old veteran Law Dancer (Aimee Owsin), with the first three-named all having been trained in Epsom by Jim Boyle.
“The parade started at the Ritz and finished at Parliament Square, and the horses behaved amazingly,” said Pippa. “They found the first 100 metres very exciting – the noise, lashing wind and rain – but they soon settled and stood patiently to meet and greet the public.”
And it’s not just young thoroughbreds who can excel in a second discipline. At the recent RoR/SEIB Racehorse to Riding Horse Show Championships, I was delighted to see Jack Dawson win the Endurance section. Jack was trained by my husband, John, until the age of 10 and won 11 of his 71 races. At 17, he retains the enthusiasm he displayed on the racecourse and has covered 1,500km in ‘retirement’ with rider Lorna Kidson.