It was during the summer of 2017 that American trainer Chad Brown first mooted the idea of an European buying trip to agent Mike Ryan. 

American interests have long sourced horses in training out of Europe, and with great success. However, the acquisition of those at a younger age, in particular yearlings, has not been such a popular path – until recently, that is.

Brown sits at the helm of one of the most powerful stables in the US. He is particularly adept with turf runners and as such, has attracted a powerful clientele with an appreciation of American grass racing. If anyone based in the US was going to make a success out of a buying trip to Newmarket, then it was most likely going to be the combination of Chad Brown and Mike Ryan.

In that first year, the group came away with 12 yearlings out of Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Sale; Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables bought six yearlings worth 1,315,000gns while Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm paid 1,865,000gns for another six. Klaravich’s sextet came to include champion Newspaperofrecord (bought for 200,000gns), the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine who landed the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes at Belmont Park on her most recent start, and Grade 2 winner Digital Age (bought for 325,000gns). As for Brant, he had the satisfaction of campaigning Grade 3 winner Demarchelier (bought for 425,000gns), now a stallion at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.

Newspaperofrecord: American champion was among the first batch of Tattersalls yearlings sourced by Mike Ryan and Chad Brown. Photo – George Selwyn

Ryan has increased his presence at the Tattersalls October Sale year-on-year since then to the extent that last year’s renewal featured the purchase of 34 yearlings worth approximately 7.8 million guineas spread among his clients.

And the results have kept pace, as we saw again on Saturday when two sons of Kingman sourced out of Tattersalls carried the Klaravich colours to victory at Saratoga in New York.

The headlines belonged to Domestic Spending for his win in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational but we’ll also be hearing a lot more of Public Sector based on the impressive nature of his debut win in the juvenile maiden. 

“Yes we had a good weekend,” says Ryan. “We’re very lucky to have good clients who give us the flexibility to work as we see best, and it’s very rewarding to see them do well. Obviously the turf racing in Australia is very good and the turf racing in Japan is very good, but I do think that the best grass horses are in Europe and that comes through at Book 1 in the quality of the pedigrees, whether it be the sire power or female families.

“Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of very good turf stallions in the US, like War Front, Kitten’s Joy and More than Ready, but we don’t have the depth of quality available in Europe.” 

Domestic Spending was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock out of the Street Cry mare Urban Castle, a Listed-winning member of the illustrious Lucayan Princess family, and was bought for 300,000gns. Saturday’s success marked the gelding’s third win in only four starts and so it’s not fanciful to assume that further improvement is on the horizon.

“We always liked Domestic Spending,” says Ryan. “He won his maiden at Tampa Bay and then an allowance at Belmont Park. Then he ran third to Decorated Invader in the [Grade 2] Hall Of Fame Stakes. He actually ran very well as he got a long way back and there was no pace. He closed well and did well to be only a length and a half off the winner. He was closer to the pace on Saturday and was able to turn the tables on Decorated Invader.

“He’s still learning and [jockey] Irad Ortiz is still learning about him too. I can see him staying a mile and a quarter, being out of a Street Cry mare, and that will open up more options for him.”

Chad Brown (foreground) working last year’s Tattersalls October Sale with Mike Ryan. Photo: Tattersalls

Hopes also run high for Public Sector, who was spoken of as a potential candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after his win on Saturday. He was bred by Fergus Anstock’s The Kathryn Stud out of Parle Moi, a winning Montjeu half-sister to Listed winners Moi Meme and Toi Et Moi, and was sold by his breeder’s Clearwater Stud at last year’s sale for 170,000gns.

“Public Sector’s race was probably the best two-year-old maiden run on grass this year,” says Ryan. “Typically Chad’s improve with racing so you’d think he’d come on for the race. He travelled very well, he had a very good trip down the backside and when Irad tipped him out, he accelerated and had the the race won very quickly. We hope that he’s up to competing in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Unsurprisingly, the exploits of both Domestic Spending and Public Sector have done much to fuel Ryan’s respect for Kingman, an enthusiasm which already ran strong.

“I’ve bred to Kingman every season that he’s been at stud,” says Ryan. “He had amazing acceleration. He has terrific power behind the saddle and this horse, Domestic Spending, is the same.

“Domestic Spending is an atypical Kingman. He has a lot more of his damsire Street Cry about him. He’s a big horse, 16.2 and still a bit raw. He does have some Kingman qualities though in that he’s tenacious and thrives on racing.

“When he sold, I remember he was down in the lower paddocks with Highclere Stud in the same draft as Palace Pier. Palace Pier was a magnificent specimen, a beauty, and he made 600,000gns. Although Domestic Spending is an impressive horse, he wouldn’t have the same kind of presence. But for a big horse, he was very agile and light on his feet.

“Kingman has done exceptionally well for us. We have another called Serve The King [bought for 260,000gns]. He’s won three of his four starts, and we think he could be stakes calibre. And another, Good Governance [bought for 120,000gns], was beaten only a neck in a Grade 3 on his second start last year. He looks as if he’s up to winning a stakes race as well.”

In addition to Public Sector, the European two-year-old class of 2020 also includes Invincible Gal, an Invincible Spirit filly who won first time out for Graham Motion at Saratoga earlier this month. Plans call for the filly, who was bought for 200,000gns from Genesis Green Stud, to now contest either the P. G. Johnson Stakes back at Saratoga or the Group 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine in Canada.

Saratoga Derby winner Domestic Spending pictured as a yearling. Photo – Tattersalls

All of which begs the question as to whether Ryan and Brown will be returning to Newmarket in October. In a normal year, they would be on the crest of a wave, perhaps travelling with an idea to increasing their purchasing power. 

But of course, very little has been normal about 2020. As with every walk of life, the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown travel opportunities into disarray; the will to attend might be there but circumstances might dictate otherwise. None of which, of course, is good news for vendors. 

No doubt attracted by the success of Ryan and his clients, Tattersalls welcomed a flood of American buyers at Park Paddocks in October 2019, among them BSW Bloodstock, Maverick Racing and Deuce Greathouse. Between them, they purchased approximately 50 yearlings. Given that they would have also bid unsuccessfully on a number of other yearlings, the impact of American buyers on last year’s Book 1 market was significant. They will be hugely missed if unable to attend.

“We don’t know if we’ll be allowed to come,” says Ryan. “Obviously we’re hoping that we can. And if we can attend, we will. But at the moment, we just don’t know what will happen.”