15th September 2017 – Bluegrass Airport, Lexington, Kentucky
It was great to be back in Keeneland after three or four years absence but I am far from sure that it was a commercially viable trip.
At one time I used to come here with three assistants and stay for over a week but, at peak, I bought twenty yearlings and they sold like hot cakes when I sent out the list to my owners. In more recent times the numbers bought declined well into single figures and some took months to find owners. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth coming and I have missed, at least, three years.
This time it was a low-key exercise compared with those days. I came on my own, travelling last Sunday, viewing in the mornings before the sale started, and returning today.
I bought just one yearling. She happens to be a full sister to the Queen Mary winner Acapulco and, like in the old days, she sold to Jaber Abdullah before I even had a chance to add her to my list of horses for sale. But, as we stand all the costs of coming to the sales and do not pass them onto the purchasers of the horses, it is hard to justify such a trip to buy just one horse.
Sadly, the factors that led to me deleting Keeneland from our round of yearlings sales, still exist. With the exception of Scat Daddy, War Front and Giant’s Causeway, whose progeny are generally very expensive, there are few stallions that would be known to my owners back home. Tapit is probably the most fashionable sire here at present and, dare I say, many of my owners have never heard of him.
When I was buying yearlings by the likes of Theatrical, Diesis, Seeking the Gold, Dynaformer, Rahy, Woodman, Trempolinio, Kris S, Dixieland Band, Gone West and occasionally pushing my boat right out to acquire the cheapest of Danzig’s or Storm Cat’s, my owners were fighting each other to get one.
Times have changed. To be blunt, I think we now have the best sires, especially for turf racing, in Europe and it may be that our stock now has the edge when it comes to soundness and durability.
I still love the place and I hope I continue to come but it may be for bus man’s holidays rather than serious business trips.