By Tony Stafford
I’ve been to Ballydoyle a couple of times, two decades apart and the last time as long ago as when Kieren Fallon was still their number one jockey, but until yesterday morning, I had never set eyes on Coolmore.
At the sales this week, their client relations lady Wendy Normile told me that Saturday’s Morning Line programme would be coming from there, but I forgot – not an unusual occurrence these days. So it was a sheer fluke that I caught it as I wanted to watch the Cesarewitch preview on a Channel (4) I rarely watch as Racing UK pretty much covers the same ground.
But we had Nick Luck having all the luck, sharing the minutes with the rest of the Channel Four team back in the Newmarket studio. Nick spoke to M V Magnier, son of John; David O’Loughlin, Director of Sales; and, Newmarket rep, Kevin Buckley (son of Grand National-winning jockey Pat), in a riveting few segments which not only revealed Coolmore’s current and future stallion riches, but also its leap into the technological age – no wonder Nick didn’t bring the studio pad which brings up the races with him.
If Galileo – my password on everything I’ve ever needed one for since he first started showing his progenitating talent – stole the show it was the private Coolmore gallery which startled the senses. Here, incidentally hosting a film crew for the first time, is the history of Ballydoyle and Coolmore pretty much dating back to the end of World War II with the exploits of John Magnier’s father-in-law Vincent O’Brien and his alliance with Robert Sangster.
The raids to Keeneland from the late 1960’s on and the identification of Northern Dancer as the sire to make future champion racehorses and then stallions was the key in which John was an equal party. Then the farm’s upgrading thanks to Sadler’s Wells, a decent Classic racehorse but the best stallion since his own father, Northern Dancer.
We saw the achingly accurate personification – it would be crass to say stuffed – of Sadler’s Wells, of course Galileo’s father, forefront, with his pictorial triumphs ranged all around him. If there’s room, Wendy, can I book a trip for Harry and me sometime soon?
It will be worth anyone trying to get there, but breeders wishing to send their mares will get first shot. They’ll be calling in ever-increasing numbers after yesterday’s news that Australia will miss Ascot next weekend owing to a foot problem and will make it five (soon to be six) Epsom Derby winners in the one lush green corner of Co Tipperary for next season.
Galileo started the modern-day near monopoly of Epsom heroes, followed on by High Chaparral, Pour Moi, Camelot and now Australia, while Ruler of the World, who split the last two, will be joining the team at some time in the future.
One star stallion who did not win the Derby – injury prevented his being there – was four-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Yeats and he deservedly was boxed over from Castle Hyde where he is the star NH sire, standing this year at Euro 6k, to feature in the show.
The trick with Coolmore is how to pitch their assets and Yeats is clearly already becoming a colossus in the NH pond, dominating the last summer sales and topping Tattersall’s Ireland with a Euro 220k three-year-old gelding.
It is not only the riches to come from the stallions which set Coolmore apart. The most arresting moment of Arc day, apart from Treve’s spell-binding second successive win, was Michael Tabor’s reaction to the demotion of Gleneagles after his convincing win in the Prix Jean- Luc Lagardere.
You could imagine his being irritated, not least at the swingeing eight day ban on Joseph O’Brien for allowing his horse to drift right with his race won, but he sportingly shrugged it off, saying the French were still in credit for not demoting Dylan Thomas after a more blatant interference in the Arc itself in 2007.
Tabor’s business involvement includes, through his son Ashley, the burgeoning Global Radio group, the biggest independent radio business in the UK. If you drive a car and do not stick with BBC, I bet you listen to Capital, Heart, Smooth, Classic, LBC or any number of others in that stable.
Global has been active recently with its own charity, Make Some Noise, which aims to help disadvantaged children and young people throughout the UK. On Thursday, a day’s appeal yielded a miraculous £1.1 million. I’m sure that made the Tabor family at least as proud as any of the eight Epsom Derby winners he’s been involved in.
I love the sales. My boss Ray Tooth will probably be going on Friday, for the evening session after the afternoon’s racing up at the track, for Future Champions Day, when Gleneagles could have a chance of instant redress in the Dewhurst Stakes. He’s certainly tough enough to shrug off the after-effects of Longchamp, and best of all, HE thinks he won even if the French stewards didn’t!
They say one man’s misfortune is another man’s joy and Khalid Abdullah was the beneficiary of the altered verdict. I remember all those years ago when he got the most stupid Classic triumph when runaway winner Nureyev was disqualified at Newmarket for an incident I think three from home, letting Known Fact in for the prince’s first big win.
My pal Bjorn Nielsen got the rough end of one at Wolverhampton the other Friday when his Rembrandt van Rijn reacted with a right-hand lurch from Shane Kelly’s left-hand “encouragement” when apparently on the way to a wide-margin win at Wolverhampton.
The defection of the likely winner left three to challenge, and of the trio it was Ray’s Two Jabs that went on to a five-length win. I wouldn’t be surprised if, given an extra two furlongs, he wins again back there on Friday week.
Meanwhile, Ray’s Dick Turpin colt out of Lawyers Choice may have two siblings to advertise him the previous evening. Dutch Art Dealer, twice a winner, is entered in a tough handicap that night but may struggle to get a run while Ray’s own two-year-old Dutch Law is earmarked for the six-furlong maiden the same night. A treble (with say 50k for the colt) would be nice!