Tributes have been paid to Anthony Penfold, an influential and popular industry figure who died last month following a long illness at the age of 74.
A man of charm with a gifted eye for a horse and a flair for understanding pedigrees, Penfold is best remembered as a driving force behind the success of Prince Fahd Salman. However, he was also a successful breeder in his own right, as was in evidence again only last year through the Group 2-winning two-year-old Velocidad.
Penfold was educated at Seaford College, not far from Lavington Stud in West Sussex, and in 1972 formed Goodwood Bloodstock with former jump jockey John Woodman. He began working for Prince Fahd Salman in 1983 and by 1985 had been employed on a full-time basis.
Thus began an exceptionally fruitful association that would come to yield eight Classic winners in those famous dark green colours as well as 90 Group/Graded stakes winners.
The bulk of the European string were trained by Paul Cole at Whatcombe while Neil Drysdale handled many of the horses that were sent to race in the US. There was almost immediate success. Nomination, a 180,000gns yearling purchase out of Tattersalls, and Nomrood, bought for $275,000 in the US, were two of the better two-year-olds of 1985, winning the Richmond Stakes and running second in the William Hill Futurity respectively. Another good Cole-trained horse of that era, Broken Hearted, won the 1986 Lockinge Stakes before a first Group 1 arrived the following summer when Bint Pasha landed the 1987 Yorkshire Oaks.
The horse for which Salman and Penfold were most readily associated with, however, is Generous. Bought for Ir200,000gns at Goffs in 1989, the flashy son of Caerleon sprang a 50/1 shock in the 1990 Dewhurst Stakes and went on to carry all before him at three when sweeping the Derby, Irish Derby and King George.
“We went to Goffs to find a Caerleon and there was this bright chestnut,” recalled Cole. “I think his colour put a lot of people off. But anyway we liked him – he was all there, the perfect horse really.
“Prince Fahd was extremely successful and through no small extent through Anthony. We worked together for a number of years, and through the ups and downs, as many in this industry do. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion through that. Anthony was a very knowledgable person on pedigrees and conformation. We had a lot of fun, he was very easy to get on with and we had a lot of success.”
Generous was the highlight of an array of middle-distance stars that paid tribute to Penfold’s eye, as were the likes of 1990 Irish Oaks heroine Knights Baroness and 1992 Prix d’Ispahan winner Zoman. Yet there were numerous talented two-year-olds during that time as well, notably Magic Ring and Dilum, who between them landed Royal Ascot’s Norfolk and Coventry Stakes of 1991. Dilum, in particular, showcased Penfold’s strengths and ability to think outside the box as the only European runner of note by the moderate American sire Tasso.
All the while, Salman’s Newgate Stud Company was gaining momentum as a breeder and by the end of the decade, could boast alumni such as the 1999 Oaks and Irish Oaks heroine Ramruma and top American racemare Fiji.
“Anthony Penfold was a dear friend,” said Headley Bell of Mill Ridge Farm, which boarded Newgate’s Kentucky-based mares. “As a person he was kind and gentle, and loved his girls. As a horseman he had a gifted eye and natural talent in keeping it simple and surrounding himself with the very best. He was a fabric of our lives for many years and a great friend.”
Salman died in 2001 at the age of only 46 and within two years the stock had been dispersed. Fiji sold for $3.1 million at Keeneland in 2002 while Ramruma set a record for a broodmare at an European auction by selling for 2.1 million guineas at Tattersalls in 2003. That same draft of Newgate horses, which were offered through Ted Voute, also included Salman’s homebred Oaks third Midnight Line, who realised 1.3 million guineas.
“Anthony was a real pedigree aficionado,” said Voute. “I was in a partnership with him and Hugo Lascelles on a mare called Flippers many years ago and I’ve been a friend of his ever since. He went on to give me some of Newgate’s yearlings to sell, one of whom was champion sprinter Mozart. We were lucky to sell some really nice horses, obviously culminating in the dispersal of Newgate.
“Anthony was a gentleman of the sport, a very knowledgeable breeder, and he will be sorely missed by the industry. We had some great fun.”
Penfold’s position with Newgate in the aftermath of Salman’s death sadly ended in acrimony and a costly court case. He was later appointed as stud manager and racing advisor to Roger Baines’s Britton House Stud in Somerset and with his wife Mary-Ann, ran his own operation, Bugley Stud in Dorset, from where he bred the 2006 Vintage Stakes winner Strategic Prince, a colt appropriately trained by Paul Cole, and last year’s Airlie Stud Stakes winner Velocidad out of Strategic Prince’s sister Astrantia. The family goes back to Ausherra, a half-sister to Ramruma.
Penfold leaves three daughters from his first marriage and two sons and a daughter from his second.