"It would be good to breed, own and race a Group 1 winner"
Derek Veitch is put in the hot seat in our series of questionnaires
Name Derek Veitch
Age 58 (Old enough to have sense!)
Occupation Owner of Ringfort Stud / veterinary surgeon
How and when did you become involved in racing? I met my wife at the RDS Derby sale when her brother, John Weld, was working in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. The Weld family introduced me to horses and the rest is history.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career? Undoubtedly, my parents. Without their hard work providing me with a secure home, an education, and financial support, I could have achieved nothing. My wife of more than 30 years has been a rock of support and sense. We have three great kids who are our legacy.
What aspect of your job do you most enjoy? I enjoy creating the next generation of race horses. I try to apply what I have learnt, improve the breed, and develop a dream which is both commercially viable and pragmatic. This journey of breeding is a challenge everyday. I especially enjoy the feeling of financial success when a foal sells well, and of course breeding winners justifies the decision making, planning and hard work involved.
And least enjoy? I don’t enjoy losing a foal, a mare, or having to sell at a loss. It is part of the business and it has made me wiser to plan future breeding strategy in the industry. If you can win more than you lose you will survive. That is the challenge.
Best day in the business? There have been many good days between buying, selling and racing. The day I bought Wolf Cleugh was a good day, though I did not know it at the time. It was a huge investment for us, but one that created a foundation for everything we have today. The best day of selling was at the Tattersalls November Foal Sale in 2006. I sold five foals who all turned out to be good racehorses and they sold exceptionally well. The best day in racing was when Dieci Anno won in my name, she was my first winner and a ten year wedding anniversary present.
If you intended to spend £1,000,000 on a yearling, whose opinion would you seek? And who would you want to train and ride it? If I had to spend a million I would ask God for help! Fortunately, no one has worked out a blueprint for buying and being right all the time. The trainer would depend on the type of yearling but in Ireland Dermot Weld, Kevin Prendergast or Aidan O’Brien. The jockey would be my neighbour, Pat Smullen.
If you could have owned any broodmare, past or present, who would it have been? Urban Sea. No explanation needed.
Who do you most admire in bloodstock? I admire the self-made operations. They are built on good teamwork, wise decisions, and horsemanship, so John Magnier and Sheikh Mohammed stand out.
What would you like to see change in the industry? Prize-money. The owners must have a chance of at least breaking even. At the moment new owners cannot see any commercial reason to invest in a horse. Look at the countries with owners lining up to own horses and compare their return with the UK in particular.
What has changed most during your time working in the bloodstock industry? The production level has gone up and potential to sell has gone down, although this imbalance corrects itself as international markets expand. The influence of Arab investment has been the most positive change.
What is your ambition? I hope to remain progressive, relevant, healthy and able to enjoy the challenge. It would be good to breed, own and race a Group 1 winner.
Advice for someone hoping to get into the industry? I have helped some people get started in the industry and I would always advise that the horse should keep you, you don’t keep the horse, review every decision and always budget.
If you could only breed to one stallion who would it be? At the moment, Galileo.
How has being a vet informed your breeding operation at Ringfort? It is obviously a huge asset that I can do the reproductive work. I call on my veterinary experience for foaling, rearing and keeping the foals healthy.
Which sale or purchase that you made are you most happy with? I like buying cheap and selling dear! Thanks to a well known agent, and friend, my best purchase and sale was Tymora.
Which horse sold by Ringfort Stud are you most looking forward to seeing race? A two-year-old filly by Dark Angel out of Prodigal Daughter called Itqan.
Do you do anything different to other breeders? Probably not, but I am always talking to the staff about paying attention to detail. We can make our own luck, working hard certainly is important in this business.
You invented the Ringfort Feeder, what is it used for, and have you many in use at Ringfort? The Ringfort Feeder was created to creep-feed foals while nursing in the field. It has helped us get more foals to the sales with no problems rather than waiting until the yearling stage. We use them between April and August, one per six mares and foals.