Monday, 15 January 2018

Beware Expensive NH Horses at Sales – Even If You Want to “Dine at the Top Table


I know, I know …. I must put into practice the New Year’s resolution and get out more; stop being Mr. Grumpy and doing an impersonation of The Curmudgeon; forget the stats and put away my anorak …. But yesterday, when I was watching racing from Warwick, the names of two owners triggered a memory of one of the sales. The horse was Mr. Whipped, who won the Gr.2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 5f. The owners were Grech and Parkin. After the race, when interviewed, one of them said, “If you want to dine at the top table, you’ve got to be prepared to spend the money”, which they certainly had done on this fine son of Beneficial, having paid £160,000 for him.

I remember going to the Tattersalls’ Cheltenham Sale on 26th May 2016, where one of the top ten horses from that sale is also now owned by Messrs. Grech and Parkin, so in an idle moment between the end of ITV Racing and supping the first glass of claret, beyond the witching hour of 6pm, I went to check my records.

If you’ve been following the blog over the last few months you’ll already know my views that the Irish point-to-point scene, and the way in which winning horses appear in the top boutique sales, is questionable to say the least. Before m’learned friends sue me for libel, here is the performance of the top ten lots from that sale.

Lot 17, Redhotfillypeppers. Sale price £200k. By Robin Des Champs and trained by Willie Mullins. Had won a 4yo mares’ maiden P2P at Necarne thirteen days prior to the sale. Has won once since and total prize-money is £9,440.

Lot 37, Lough Derg Spirit. Sale price £190k. By Westerner and trained by Nicky Henderson. Owned by Grech and Parkin. Had won a 4yo geldings’ maiden P2P at Athlacca nineteen days prior to the sale. Has won twice since, and total prize-money £33,372.

Lot 28, Secret Investor. Sale price £175k. By Kayf Tara and trained by Paul Nicholls. Had won a 4yo geldings’ maiden P2P at the same meeting as Lough Derg Spirit. Has not won a race since, and total prize-money of £4,694.

Lot 64, Super Follo. Sale price £150k. By Enrique and trained by Noel Meade. Had won a 4yo maiden P2P at Barlemy ten days prior to the sale. Hasn’t raced since.

Lot 47, Drovers Lane. Sale price £135k. By Oscar and trained by Rebecca Curtis. Had won a 4yo geldings’ maiden at Necarne twelve days prior to the sale. Hasn’t raced since.

Lot 52, One More Hero. Sale price £100k. By Milan and trained by Paul Nicholls. Had won a maiden P2P at Dromahane 32 days prior to the sale. Has raced once since, winning £286.

Lot 34, Minella Rebellion. Sale price £90k. By King’s Theatre and trained by Nicky Henderson. Had come 2nd in a 4yo maiden P2P at Dawstown 24 days prior to the sale. Has not won a race since and total prize-money £1,145.

Lot 32, Searching For Gold. Sale price £88k. By Gold Well and trained by Charlie Longsdon. Had won a 4yo maiden P2P at Ballindenisk eighteen days prior to the sale. Has won once since and total prize-money of £2,093.

Lot 45, Westendorf. Sale price £85k. By Coroner and trained by Jonjo O’Neill. Had won a P2P Flat race at Tipperary fourteen days prior to the sale. Has won once since and prize-money £12,139.

Lot 26, Glen Rocco. Sale price £80k. By Shirocco and trained by Nick Gifford. Had won a 5 & 6yo geldings’ maiden P2P at Ballindenisk eighteen days prior to the sale. Hasn’t won a race since and prize money of £954.

Dear oh dear. Apparently great P2P form going into the sales, but equally apparently pretty lamentable performances subsequently. Total hammer spend of £1,293,000 and a cool 10% commission to sales house and agents of £129,300, let’s say £50k each on training fees and associated costs as most of the trainers are not exactly the cheapest is another £500,000, giving total spend of £1,922,300. Between the lot of them, they’ve only won five races since the sale, with total prize-money a measly £63,169 at an average per horse of £6,317. If you then do the maths and work out the return on total investment, it is a staggeringly dismal 3.2%.

Methinks there’s not too much fine dining at the top table for anyone involved with these horses. Without doing a massively time-consuming exercise looking at all the other sales, I think I’ll stand by the assertion that turning up at top sales and spending money like water is the way to the poor-house. Anorak now taken off again. Time for another glass of fine claret. Cheers!




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