'I'm staying positive: the market will recover, the only question is when'
Industry figures tell us how they are managing in self-isolation
Daniel Creighton, bloodstock agent and co-founder of Salcey Forest Stud in Warwickshire, tells us about how he is managing – both personally and professionally – with the Europe-wide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus
How is life at Salcey Forest Stud ticking over?
Life is ticking over pretty much as normal. It's very easy to forget what's going on in the world or what day of the week it is during the breeding season on a stud farm.
We are pretty well rehearsed in the art of social distancing at this time of the year. This current situation has made us reflect on how lucky we are to be living and working on a farm.
What measures have you brought in on the stud to deal with the coronavirus and lockdown?
Well, I've probably driven my staff mad over the last couple of months. It did take a while to get the message through about how serious the situation might become before the lockdown.
Unfortunately I must admit I was guilty of bulk-buying gloves, disinfectant and masks even before social distancing began. I also insisted the staff stayed on site. I'm probably a bit of a hypochondriac, but at the same time having lots of illness at this important time of the year would have been very stressful as every member of the staff is important to the team.
We've introduced the typical protocols: gloves and masks are worn, separate tools have been allocated to each member of staff and we disinfect all handles, switches and anything people touch on a daily basis. Cleanliness is quite an important thing on a stud farm generally anyway, so we're well practised at it.
There's also no visitors at the moment, obviously, and the two-meter isolation rule applies to all staff. The majority of us live on site so we're technically in our own little compound.
Are you and your clients covering any fewer mares, or are you carrying on as normal in the hope the market recovers?
We're certainly cracking on as normal, including my clients – at the moment anyway. I had thought about not covering one of the mares but have since changed my mind.
I like to stay positive as much as possible. The market will recover; the only question is when.
What's your view on online yearling sales, if they had to happen in Europe this year?
It’s good to find innovative ways to sell our product, and helping the breeding and consignment side of the industry to embrace the digital age more will not be a bad thing in the long-term.
I really hope it does not come to online-only sales, though. To sell yearlings online will be quite difficult, and I believe it could be the case that bigger operations will benefit more than smaller breeders.
What's the latest on Laurens, who you helped purchase for client John Dance and will board for her broodmare career?
She is in foal at 18 days now. She took some time to get cycling, as can be the way with these mares out of training.
She will come back to us from the Irish National Stud at around the 40-day scan. It will be very exciting to see her again!
Hareem Queen, who you also bought on behalf of Dance, won a Listed race in February: what's the plan for her this year?
She's an exciting filly for the season once we get going. It will be dependant on how the programme is staged but high on the agenda will be to add more black type as she's quite an exciting broodmare prospect. She has continuously improved so fingers crossed she can return on that upward trajectory.
Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through home confinement?
To be honest I haven’t watched much TV at all. I seem to be on the phone constantly, or outside.
My sister insisted I watch Tiger King on Netflix. It was very odd but at the same time captivating. I suppose we could blame Carole Baskin for all of this.
What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?
The highlight will be watching the two-year-old races run. I'm sure most of us in the Flat game literally wait all winter to see what could be the next exciting sire, dam or racehorse.
There's so much that excites me for this season, which has made the delay particularly difficult to endure.
High on the list is Pearl Secret having his first two-year-old runners, and I have a strong suspicion he'll exceed people's expectations. We continue to have outstanding foals by him and I will be shocked if they can’t run as fast as they look. We’ve had some very good feedback on them from multiple sources. It’s down to him now.
In regards to older horses, we’ve mentioned Hareem Queen but there is also Continental, who's an exciting three-year-old filly yet to make her debut for the Dances.
A few of the Dance two-year-olds who are very exciting are Disco Beats, an imposing son of Pearl Secret who is with John Quinn; Rhythm Master a stunning Dark Angel colt with Richard Fahey; and Freak Out, a gorgeous son of Kodiac with Declan Carroll. Discoteque is a queen of an Acclamation filly with Charlie Hills.
There's also the imposing Tiki Fire, a filly by Awtaad, and the homebred Deckadance, a Kingman filly out of Ivory Gala who has impressed from the day she was born.
I’ve also bought a few for Andrew Davis, who has his horses with Henry Candy, and they include two very exciting three-year-olds in Jouska, who was third in the Cornwallis on her last start, and Bimble, who finished a very encouraging fourth on debut at Kempton in December. Andrew also has a pretty special Pearl Secret filly called Sonorous who has been impressing on the gallops.
Watching out for any potential exciting pedigree updates for the mares is also something to look forward to.
Really, I could give you an essay on the things I'm looking forward to in the Flat season, so I should probably leave it at that!
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