'A Classic winner is what everyone wants and to be part of it has been a dream'
The stud manager and agent reflects on his career in racing and bloodstock
Occupation Stud manager and bloodstock agent
How did you get involved in the bloodstock industry? My father [Edward] trained horses, so I’ve been surrounded by them all my life. I took a very keen interest in pedigrees from an early age and would always go to the sales with him to help buy horses. It built from there, to me buying and selling horses for various people.
I also worked as a commentator and voiceover provider for SIS, commentating in Spanish and English for many years. Once the stud business had grown significantly, I naturally focussed all my attention on that.
How did your association with Josh Schwartz begin and when did you set up Salcey Forest Stud? Josh initially worked for my father. We then both worked at SIS and were boarding our own mares elsewhere. We decided to rent a farm to do it ourselves. A friend of mine asked me to take some yearlings to board and it built rather quickly from there.
We officially set up the stud in 2013 and have been very lucky to have been supported by some fantastic people.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career? I suppose many people have been major influences. Michael Magill [Bellewstown Farm], who has always shared great insight and wisdom when needed and John and Jess Dance for their fantastic support and confidence. My father would have to be the biggest influence though, for teaching me so much from an early age.
What aspect of your job do you most enjoy? Having worked in an office environment, being outdoors around horses in the summer is a great way of life. The sensation of seeing horses we’ve bought or bred win on the track or sell well in the ring is a feeling that is very hard to beat.
And least? Farrier day, mucking out and breaking bad news to clients. It’s probably why Josh gets nominated to do most of these things.
Best day in the business? Without doubt it has to be Laurens winning the Prix de Diane. A Classic winner is what everyone wants and to be part of the team involved has been the stuff of dreams.
Who do you admire most within the industry? Stud and stable staff on low wages who go above and beyond for the care of their horses, and breeders and owners on a budget who generally lose money but still keep going for the love of the sport.
You selected John Dance's three-time Group 1 winner Laurens at the Goffs UK Premier Sale. What was your first impression of her and how has she changed since? Beautiful, amazing, stunning. She’s certainly stronger but still all of those things.
How did your association with John Dance come about? We boarded a couple of horses for Lynn Douglas and Gary Walker. They were friends with James Pak through their ownership of Toormore and I was introduced to John through James.
If you had to let another agent buy you a horse, who would you choose and why? Joe Foley. We seem to clash on plenty of horses in the sales ring and he has done a fantastic job for Clipper Logistics.
Who is the most underrated stallion on the market? Dream Ahead is certainly underrated. He has proven he can sire a top-class horse with the likes of Al Wukair and this year’s Dark Vision. His stats are also very good.
You were active at Doncaster last week. What did you make of trade and what do you expect the running themes to be throughout the sales season? I thought the trade was much better than the doom and gloom merchants would have had us believe beforehand. It is very evident those lots that stand out sell extremely well.
Unfortunately, as has been a growing trend, it is getting increasingly harder to sell horses that are deemed to be in the middle to lower end of the market. I would imagine this gap may grow even further going forward through the sales season, as there are surely more yearlings than the market can find buyers for.
Give us two things you look for in a potential purchase Pedigree is definitely a big factor for me. I like to see depth to a page. As someone who spends clients’ money like it’s my own, value has to be another big factor - buying something that slips through the net is always rewarding.
What is your ambition in bloodstock? While I might not own the many successful purchases I have made, I get great pleasure from seeing friends and clients enjoy success on the racecourse. Hopefully I can build on my client base and bring this kind of success and enjoyment to more people in the future.
I'd also love to see Pearl Secret make an impact at stud. I have seen some lovely foals by him and I’m quite excited for his future.
What do you do when the sales aren't on? Work on the farm, go racing, watch racing, visit trainers. Spare time? What’s that?
What would you like to see change in the industry? I would limit the book of first-season sires until they have had runners. This would protect the gene pool and would make more demand at the sales for their progeny. It would also help with overproduction but this is something that would need to be enforced by Weatherbys.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to get into the industry? Meet as many people as you can and never burn bridges. Find the right mentor. You’ll always be learning, so be open to that.
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