An Al Duncan musing

14th September 2011 : The wonderful world of The Bloodstock Industry

I blame Tony Morris.

The Bloodstock Industry is a vast, worldwide empire which straddles Horse Racing, providing young, unproven stock to be assessed for ability and absorbing that same stock at the end of their racing career.
Morris, of course, is held in high regard as the Bloodstock expert of the daily Racing Newspapers – previously The Sporting Life, nowadays The Racing Post. As a staff writer for The Life, his weekly column was just about the only substantial article that you could sit down to and, as such, was ripe with wisdom in areas of the horse management not easily available elsewhere.
It was easy to be fascinated - obsessed even - with The Bloodstock Industry in those days when the Sangster family, then the Coolmore Alliance and the Arab Royalty were spending millions at sales arenas from Keeneland to Newmarket in search of The Classic Racehorse.  And Northern Dancer was king.

Fast forward to the early part of this century and attending Bloodstock Sales with the likes of Donald, Dave McComb & Les Dodds – boy, did I know nothing!!

Long-standing cohort Lucky Dave often remarks that he has learned more about horses and horse-racing from Donald in 2 years than he has in the previous 20. Me, too.
I recall one day at Musselburgh when Donald wanted to view a Wylie horse called Lennon in the paddock before the bumper. He was interested in seeing the type of stock that a young sire called Beneficial was producing.
By its very nature, a stallion can take a few years to make an impact upon the jumping game – progeny can be 6 or 7 yrs old before an opinion based upon racing evidence can be made as to the ability of a sire. By which time he may be whisked off to distant shores in disgrace!
Anyway, Donald did acquire a couple of Beneficials at the Sales in the following years just before he scaled the heights as a leading sire. He so nearly acquired a third, but it’s always the one that gets away………..

Accompanying Donald across the Irish Sea (thankfully calm both ways) in August this year, was another enlightening and absorbing experience to satisfy my obsession. Watching his approach in assessing a horse’s conformation, feeling for any unsoundness in legs and wind, and eyeing up how the youngster trots and reacts was yet another lesson in how little I know of this world.
Tremendous couple of days.

Now this Tattersalls Ireland Sale of NH Stores, lasting 3 days with 875 horses catalogued, was supposedly the lower end of the market – the best of the breed in terms of conformation and pedigree having already been offered at DBS, Goffs or Tattersalls Derby sales in early summer.
But, despite a smattering of & King's Theatres, we were impressed by the stock of several less well-know sires.

The one that got away? Well, we're back to Heron Island and a couple of his lots :
-  3 yr old gelding ex Lady Tarka, a lovely, free moving good sort, sold for €8k
-  3 yr old gelding ex Soul Lady , a tall, rangy type who made €5k 

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