Hunt on for bargains at equine jumble sale
Though the racing business deals in dreams, it's a volatile currency.
It was trading high at Doncaster on Saturday, where, in the Racing Post Trophy, the two-year-old Camelot confirmed all the expectations that have surrounded him since first he found his way to Aidan O'Brien.
But this week comes the downside of the coin, with the world's greatest equine jumble sale in Newmarket.
The annual horses-in-training exchange run by Europe's premier equine auction house, Tattersalls, can be an occasion where the bright-eyed hope of the yearling sales is replaced by the cold reality of the end-of-season-business of cutting losses or cashing in.
Camelot, now as short as 3-1 favourite for next year's Derby, cost some £550,000 in the same arena just over a year ago but for every successful purchase there are dozens who fail to make the grade, even when selected by such expert eyes as the Coolmore partners.
Yesterday marked the start of four days of buying and selling. One of the industry's time-honoured adages is that to make a small fortune through bloodstock you need to start off with a large one and, to be sure, investments of millions will be swiftly reduced to small change this week. But equally true is that accumulation needs speculation.
And if a prize like Camelot, who will be priceless as a stallion prospect if he should progress to triumph at Epsom next year, can be found, then the name of the three-year-old catalogued as Lot 240 among the Ballydoyle consignment surely explains what can seem profligate outlays to those outside the business.
The Montjeu half-brother to Kayf Tara, who cost nearly £600,000 as a yearling but has notched just two unplaced runs, is called Justification.
Horsetrading works both ways. As at any rummage sale, there are always bargains to be found. Prohibit, for instance; bred by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte operation, let go for £85,000 as an apparently exposed handicapper two years ago, and now, with earnings of more than £400,000 and a Group One prize at this year's Royal Ascot, one of the best sprinters in Europe.
And this morning another of Saturday's juvenile winners, Tell Dad, goes under the hammer. The colt cost £75,000 last year, has earned nearly £250,000 and his owner is hoping for a fat profit.
The British Horseracing Authority yesterday said they were “committed to ongoing and constructive dialogue” with the Professional Jockeys Association as the threat of strike action continues to cast a shadow over racing.
Riders remain at odds over the new whip rules, with last Friday's revised regulations failing to appease all factions of the weighing room.
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: “We are committed to our own constant monitoring of the situation regarding the adjusted whip rules, and are pleased that the majority of jockeys are adhering to them. We urge that they continue to do so in a professional manner, in the best interests of the sport.”