John Gosden believes the yearling sales are a fundamental component in the success of a stable, highlighting that the auctions can “make or break you”, depending on the stock sourced in the search for the next generation of stars.
The Newmarket trainer compared the yearling sales to the annual NFL draft in America, where prospective players are put through their paces ahead of being selected by teams.
Gosden, who was speaking at the launch of the Newmarket Gold Season on Tuesday, said: “The truth is that it can make or break you in the next two years if you get the wrong yearling, miss out on one, or buy ones that don’t work out.
“In the old days, you used to wait for the horses to come in, but now we’re up and down that hill looking at yearlings two or three times. There’s a lot of due diligence that goes into it and to that extent, it is a very demanding time of year.
“But it’s very important for the future of the stable.”
With Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale fast approaching, Gosden will be among a group of trainers, agents and individuals who will descend on Park Paddocks to inspect the 552 lots catalogued.
Among those set to go under the hammer are a No Nay Never sister to Ten Sovereigns, a Dubawi colt who is the first foal out of Speedy Boarding, a Dubawi half-brother to Legatissimo, a Frankel half-brother to Golden Horn, and a Kingman half-brother to Al Kazeem.
Gosden revealed some of the aspects he looks for when selecting a yearling and said: “You’re looking at everything and you start with the pedigree in the book. Then you go right through to the provenance, what farm it comes from, it’s upbringing, it’s family, and whether anything new has come into the family.
“It’s a lot of hard work – and sometimes you can’t get a bid in. You get completely blown out and that is heart-breaking. So you have to keep looking for more.”
Not only does Gosden receive stock sourced from the yearling sales, he benefits from owner-breeders who send him their horses and believes that the percentage of homebreds in his stable each year is around 55%.
“With an owner, if you train their horse and it’s a filly, they will always ask you about its character, psychology and physiology,” said Gosden. “That way you can definitely help when it comes to matings.
“If you’re lucky to have a stallion go to stud and the progeny come back to you, by knowing the stallion you can probably know what mistakes not to make.”
One such stallion Gosden is now training the progeny of is Kingman, the four-time Group 1-winning miler who has made a blistering start to his stallion career at Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud.
Among Kingman’s leading performers are French Derby hero Persian King, Coventry Stakes scorer Calyx and the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano victor Headman.
Kingman’s electric start has not gone unnoticed by his former trainer, who said: “They [his progeny] show his speed and brilliance. I’ve noticed a lot of them seem to have that great acceleration like he had on the track.
“He seems to be able to complement middle-distance mares as well as sprinting mares. He’s a very exciting stallion.”