In his column last month, Tony Morris was lamenting the lack of diversity in the breeding industry, one that has “looked to Northern Dancer for everything” and now finds itself “boxed into a corner.” He continued: “If there has been a positive development in the last few years, it has been the emergence of Acclamation as a significant influence in pedigrees.” Those words have taken on extra resonance following Coolmore’s purchase of Acclamation’s daughter, Marsha, for a record 6,000,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Mares Sale in December. What an incentive to buy and race a filly!
Coolmore plans to send its new purchase to Galileo. What type of horse this liaison will produce is uncertain, but the old adage of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best is our best guide at the moment. For all Marsha’s achievements on the track – her seven sprint wins include Group 1 victories in the Prix de l’Abbaye and Nunthorpe Stakes – it may well be that the breeding shed is where her real legacy is secured.
Others that found new homes at Tattersalls included the final offerings from the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal. Long-time Stud Manager Peter Reynolds led round Islington, winner of four Group 1s in the famous Lord Weinstock silks, before her sale for 270,000gns. Full details and analysis of the sale results can be found in Sales Circuit on pages 81-90.
You won’t find Evan Williams at many Flat sales. The Vale of Glamorgan handler is a National Hunt man to his core, the product of a youth spent farming, hunting and point-to-pointing.
Williams’ biggest supporters are William and Angela Rucker, teaming up with the likes of State Of Play, Cappa Bleu and current exciting novice hurdler, Chooseyourweapon. The trainer and owners share a love of staying chasers and a mindset that is always looking to the future.
“They like to buy a nice type of horse and they’re National Hunt people through and through – the family is steeped in the history of it,” Williams tells Tom Peacock in a brilliantly frank interview.
“We enjoy doing the sales together and we’ll all have a strong opinion on what the horses have and don’t have. We’ll get it wrong a lot, and sometimes get it right. We generally sing off the same hymn-sheet but have opinions and aren’t afraid to air them.
“I’m quite old-fashioned in that I like to give horses time, and they’re very similar. As they’re country people, they understand the job.”
December saw the ROA Horseracing Awards take place in London and a superb evening saw the past season’s Flat and NH stars take centre stage.
Enable, not surprisingly, was the star of the show. Her brilliant year, which yielded five Group 1s, helped the daughter of Nathaniel to scoop three trophies, including Horse of the Year, while Khalid Abdullah was named Owner of the Year.
In racing, it is often said that the people behind the scenes rarely receive the credit they deserve, so we are only too pleased to include a ‘Team Enable’ photo within the ROA Horseracing Awards coverage.
Another behind-the-scenes, but nonetheless vital, role is that carried out by Dr Jerry Hill, the BHA’s Chief Medical Officer. It is his job to ensure the sport adheres to best practice where the safety and welfare of jockeys is concerned. As Tim Richards finds out, plenty of progress has been made to both safeguard riders on the racecourse and ensure they have the support they need when it comes to their diet and mental health.