Justin Casse, Alastair Donald and Ross Doyle on the big breeze-up issues
Stephen Hillen and Matt Coleman also join the panel
What do you look for when you buy a breeze-up horse?
Justin Casse, agent One, performance - efficiency in movement and some sign of talent; two, conformation; and three, pedigree. Some concessions are made in any of the three dependent upon budget.
Matt Coleman, agent Time of the breeze, temperament and attitude during the breeze, stride action and length, pedigree and physique as these are the most important assets of a top racehorse. I would tend to be more forgiving of incorrect conformation with a breeze-up horse I like if they have coped well with the breeze-up preparation.
Alastair Donald, agent A good mover is the most important thing for me, good balance along with clean, correct and sound limbs.
Ross Doyle, agent We just look for a nice mover who does a consistent gallop with a good action, and looks to have a good attitude. We’re not over-concerned about them going flat out. Some people very much believe in the timing, they’re another aid I suppose, but it doesn’t drive what we do.
Stephen Hillen, agent I look for a good mover who covers the ground with a good attitude.
Do you think value can be had at the breeze-up sales?
JC Yes, but it usually depends on the amount of supply and demand. In 2017 the supply and demand were closer together so vendors bought more and in 2018 supply exceeded. Also, buyers seem less likely to make concessions for the three items I mentioned earlier, but in doing so some horses are left neglected in what has become an increasingly polarised market.
MC Yes. Clearly the sale and the breeze times have a significant effect on the price a horse fetches, but my two Group 1-winning breezers cost €47,000 and £75,000 so it's by no means impossible to find a good horse at a relatively sensible budget. Scepticism regarding breeze-up horses often means the market has less depth than the yearling market.
AD Yes I do, especially if you're looking for a more backward staying type, perhaps one that moved well but breezed slowly.
RD I think there’s value there if you can see just below the top times. Kuwait Currency would be an example last year, when we gave 72,000gns for him. I don’t know if it was good value but to us at the time he was. He didn’t clock a good time but we knew that he had come from a good home with Brendan Holland and was a May foal by Kitten’s Joy, who wasn't going to be a rocket over two or three furlongs.
SH Yes, value can be found in the middle market due to the Brexit uncertainty. Our re-sale market is also still strong for proven horses.
Do you feel that there is over emphasis on timing at the breeze-ups?
JC I believe showing some sign of speed within the breeze is an indicator of talent. Sometimes it may be at the beginning or the end. It's always interesting to look at the entire time as well as the internal fractions separately to dissect performance. Worldwide the two-year-old marketplace has been decided on breeze times, although there are exceptions. In my mind, pedigree and efficiency of motion can be just as important.
MC In recent years I think vendors are realising that achieving a very fast time to the detriment of the horse’s future is not a commercially viable long-term approach. The times are obviously an important indication of a horse’s talent but they are only one tool to factor into the overall purchasing decision.
AD Yes. I believe that only the sharp early two-year-old old types should be doing fast times. Many of the more three-year-old types are pushed to go faster than they should be at this stage.
RD I think there probably is for some people. I was always taught to trust your eyes and your ears, that’s what we’ve done and we’ve been lucky over the years. You get a lot of talk of different systems and different timing systems, and I think there’s an inconsistency across the board slightly there that leads to certain horses who clock a very good time making probably a lot more money than they’re worth.
SH No, the buying market is smart because the expensive breezers whose times are slower than average usually have more talent than the cheaper horses who clock fast.
Which is your favourite breeze-up sale?
JC In America, the Ocala Breeders' April Sale. There are 1,200 horses breezing over a six-day period and selling for four days. It's like a microcosm of Keeneland September with quality and quantity throughout. In Europe, it’s Arqana May for atmosphere and success rate.
MC Each sale tends to focus towards a different type of horse at a different budget, but a good horse can come from any of them. The four best breeze-up horses I've bought all came from a different sale. I'm happy to assess each horse on an individual basis regardless of sale.
AD I like the Tattersalls Craven Sale, where there are some very nice types and pedigrees to match. We've also done well from the Arqana sale as the horses have a bit more time to prepare and there is less emphasis on times.
RD I think I’d be killed if I answered that! I haven’t got a favourite, luckily they’ve all produced some very good horses across the various locations and sales companies. It wouldn’t be fair to isolate one.
SH I don't have one, as a good horse can come from any sale. I've found Group 1 winners at the Goffs Kempton Sale, at Tattersalls Craven and also at Arqana.
What successful horses have you bought from the breeze-ups?
JC Most recently I purchased Grade 2 winners War Of Will and Road To Victory and the Grade 1-placed Mississippi. I've also sold or pinhooked Grade 1 winners Dancing Rags, Negligee, Lear’s Princess, Dream Tree and Mizdirection as well as Grade 2 winners Core Beliefs, Green Mask, Kakeru Tesoro and Sir Whimsey.
MC Group 1 winners Robin Of Navan and Sands Of Mali, Group 2 Norfolk Stakes winner Prince Of Lir, French Group 3 winner Pallodio and the Group 2-placed Charming Kid.
AD Stormy Antarctic, who we bought from the Craven Sale in 2015, has been a great old servant who has finished second in three Group 1s as well as being a multiple Group race winner. There is also Mr Siu's Group 3 winner Indian Blessing, who can win a big one this year.
RD Paco Boy and Ventura Storm, who were both Group 1 winners, are obvious ones and we also bought the Stewards' Cup winner Lancelot Du Lac and Mehmas, a very good horse who was retired to stud with Tally Ho. Look at his form now, he beat Blue Point in the Richmond Stakes and you could say that he might arguably turn out to be the best sprinter in the world by the end of the year.
SH The Grey Gatsby [French Derby, Irish Champion Stakes], Brando [Prix Maurice de Gheest] and Astaire [Middle Park Stakes] are all Group 1 winners who came from the breeze-ups.
Have you any particular breeze-up graduate that you're looking forward to this season?
JC I've bought four fillies so far from the first two sales under the name 'Team Casse' so they'll obviously go to my brother [Mark], and then there is of course War Of Will. I also had a nice touch earlier this year with a filly I brought back to the US from Ireland, that I will be very excited to see perform.
MC The obvious horse is Sands Of Mali who had excuses for his below-par sixth place in Dubai last month. His work this spring has been exceptional so we are looking forward to the season ahead. As a dark horse, a Showcasing colt I bought at Goffs UK last year named Show Me A Sunset has been showing up well in his homework and should make his debut soon.
AD Fox Champion, who came from last year's Craven Breeze-Up, has won his last two starts for King Power Racing and may run at the Craven meeting at Newmarket.
RD I would go back to Kuwait Currency, who won a Listed race at Salisbury last season and could be a lovely horse. I think he might start off in a Guineas trial but he's probably a horse who might need a bit further by the end of the year. Richard Hannon seems very happy with him at the minute.
SH East, who was bought from Goresbridge, won a Group 3 in France and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She is pleasing Kevin Ryan and will start in one of the Guineas.