Bloodstock success can turn on a quirk of fate, as Julian Richmond-Watson, named the TBA Breeder of the Month of October for his owner-breeder success with Scope in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak, can testify. Had plans gone according to schedule, Scope would not have been born at all.
TBA Chairman Richmond-Watson takes up the story: “I meant to sell Scope’s dam Look So, who didn’t run at two years, as a three-year-old at the end of 2007. She hated the kick back at Kempton on her debut, then won a Newbury maiden at 100-1, the only winner I’ve ever had at that price, but she didn’t go on and wasn’t good enough to keep. But there was a mix-up over putting her into the sales and she didn’t get in, so I decided to run her as a four-year-old.
“She won her first two races in the spring, both by a neck, but even more significantly, about a month later her half-sister Look Here won the Oaks for me. So, there was no way she was going to the sales!”
Richmond-Watson’s route to Look So, Look Here and Scope was formed several years before he founded his Lawn Stud on the family’s Wakefield Lodge Estate at Potterspury, near Towcester, when at the 1990 Tattersalls December Sales he gave 13,500gns for the French-bred Derniere Danse. History points to another quirk of fate.
At the time of the purchase, recorded to Milltown Stud in Ireland, the market did not seem to reflect that Derniere Danse’s two-year-old half-sister Divine Danse had won a Group 3 and finished second in the Group 1 Prix Morny and Prix Robert Papin, while few would have known that her yearling half-brother was to become Pursuit Of Love.
Derniere Danse’s fifth produce for Richmond-Watson was Last Look, by Rainbow Quest, and again he recalls: “I couldn’t put Last Look in training because she wasn’t correct, so I thought I’d get two foals out of her and sell her, but the first two came out perfectly straight, so she stayed, and her daughter Kristina produced the Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Kayah for me.”
Although Richmond-Watson has owned horses since 1970, he is a relative late-comer to the breeding sector. His father Sonny – baptised Richmond Noel but known throughout his life as Sonny, for reasons that no one in the immediate family can now explain – owned horses from the 1950s, including the 1960 Queen Anne Stakes winner Blast, and started a stud on the Wakefield Lodge Estate. He became deputy Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, which position his son overtook in 2003 as the Senior Steward responsible for completing the commercialisation of British racing’s former regulatory body.
“My father and I didn’t agree about the way the stud should go forward,” Richmond-Watson explains, “so I just raced horses until he gave up, not long before he died in 2002 at the age of 94. Then I founded Lawn Stud.”
The fortunes of the stud have been firmly founded on the Derniere Danse dynasty and continues through the Look So-Look Here axis that provides the foundation of the current team of six mares.
Look Here died in 2019 but has a filly foal by Night Of Thunder to represent her, while her daughter Hereby, who won five of her nine races, including the Listed Noel Murless Stakes, and finished third in five others, is due to produce her first foal, by Fastnet Rock, in the spring.
Scope’s winning half-sisters Regardez and Glance are also beginning to make their presence felt. Regardez, whose son Impatient won twice for her breeder before being sold for 95,000gns to the Middle East, has an Oasis Dream colt foal and is in foal to Study Of Man. Glance, who signed off her racing career by winning on the Deauville Polytrack in late-November 2019, has a first foal colt by Gleneagles and is in foal to Too Darn Hot.
“I’m heavily into the family,” says Richmond-Watson, who, as well as having to pit his wits on behalf of TBA members, admits he faces an interesting conundrum in finding the next mate for Scope’s dam Look So, especially given his association status. “I try to use British stallions where I can, but that’s not always possible. Look So is rising 18, so I’ll just have to consider what’s best for her. I’m still debating with myself.”