David Futter did not turn Yorton Farm Stud into one of Britain’s leading jump stallion stations by leaning on a stable door.
His energy and willingness to go through with a bold plan lies behind an ambitious new auction of young stock which will take place at his Welshpool premises on Thursday, September 12. Goffs UK liked the idea so much they teamed up with Futter to create the Goffs UK Yorton Sale, which will comprise some 37 jumping-bred horses, mainly two-year-olds, but with a small group of yearlings, and by a range of sires. The catalogue comprises 24 geldings, four colts and nine fillies, and no shortage of French breeding.
Futter says the idea had been incubating for a couple of years, adding: “We buy and sell a lot of horses at home anyway, but this is also a way of promoting Yorton while engaging with the idea of breaking and working with horses at a younger age. It is a system they operate in France, and one we have long admired.
“Twelve years ago we were selling four-year-olds as stores, but they wouldn’t be looked at now because the trend has moved to selling three-year-olds. There is no reason why we can’t produce them at two – I’m not suggesting we race them [over jumps] at two, but we can start earlier with them.
“We tried putting two-year-olds in three-year-old store sales, but because they were few in number they were rather lost – although some vendors have enjoyed good results with that age group. We will offer a selection of nice models with top pedigrees that we either bred ourselves or bought as foals or yearlings.
“We know our market, and what pinhookers are looking for”
“We are going to learn a lot in year one, but we intend making this an annual event.”
If you like nice shoes, Futter’s concept helps keep them in one piece, for Team Yorton has spent two years “footslogging around Britain, Ireland, France and Germany” while sourcing and buying the auction lots he hopes to resell. “You can go to five farms in France and not buy anything,” he says. “It is so difficult to find young horses that tick size, scope, conformation and so on.”
Why not just take his stock to Doncaster for one of Goffs UK’s routine auctions? “Because there is not a specific sale for yearling or two-year-old stores,” he says, and when asked if the [David] Lumet Show run by Arqana in France had been an inspiration he replies: “A few years ago we were asked to put a couple of two-year-olds into a sale there, and sold a filly called Ch’ti Diamond, who scored in France as a three-year-old, beating Fusil Raffles, who subsequently won a Grade 1 hurdle for Nicky Henderson at Punchestown. [Ch’ti Diamond’s Gentlewave half-brother sells as Lot 37.]
“He [Lumet] sells his own stock, plus horses from other owners, whereas we own or have a share in every horse we are offering.”
These embryonic jumpers are all unbroken, but long-reined, and some will have been loose jumped, although Futter believes that if the market proves receptive he could, in years to come, canter two-year-olds under saddle as part of the sales presentation. “We need to just move slowly for the first year,” he says.
Videos of each lot, being led up or loose schooled, are in production.
At a time when ‘boutique sales’ have become part of the calendar, yet can flutter from feast to famine and produce wide variations in clearance rates, should Futter be concerned that his sale could become a very nice occasion but not much else? He says: “If that proves to be the case we’ll live with it, but there is no comparison between our event and the types of sale to which you are referring, which have little choice over the horses that are entered [or the reserves placed]. We have selected the horses for this sale, and we stand by them. I would be happy to take a share in any of them and put them into training.
“There will be horses to suit all pockets, and we know our market, and what pinhookers are looking for. There is the potential for a quick return, because they are all good enough to get into traditional store sales as three-year-olds.
“At this year’s Derby Sale four horses who we sold from Yorton as foals, yearlings or two-year-olds were reoffered and turned over €180,000. If people who buy horses at the Goffs UK Yorton Sale turn a profit next year we will be delighted.”
The recent transfer of Yorton’s leading sire Blue Bresil to the Cashman family’s Glenview Stud, and the move into racing and rearing partnerships, let alone the impending public auction, begs questions relating to the farm’s stallion roster. Futter says: “We are still heavily involved in stallions, be they the horses which stand at Yorton, or those in which we have shares and are standing in France and Ireland. James and Jean [Potter, who own the Leighton Estate at which Yorton is based] have some 30 mares and remain very keen on the stallion side of the business.
“I would be happy to take a share in any of them and put them into training”
“However, we have to be realistic and accept that a British stud the size of Yorton cannot survive on stallion income alone. We have to look at different opportunities.”
A note of caution then, but one with which UK breeders will empathise, and if the broadening of Yorton’s remit means Gentlewave, Norse Dancer and Pether’s Moon can be joined by a replacement for Blue Bresil – Futter was actively seeking a stallion as this magazine was going to press – then that is good news for mare owners.
Meanwhile, preparations for the sale continue, and young horses are being buffed and scrubbed ahead of their date with the auctioneer. The Potters’ premises, a former Victorian model farm that has undergone extensive, precision restoration work, provides a fabulous setting for their tenants, the Futter family, to have input to the racing and breeding industries, and will give the sale a unique quality.
Behind the scenes there have been further developments, with Lester Futter now fully engaged as his father’s business partner, while his younger brother, Riley, is heading to Australia’s Widden Stud to broaden his knowledge before returning to join the business.
The fledgling sale promises to be another important step in Yorton Farm Stud’s evolution.