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Friday, 18 January, 2019

Middleham Park Racing's Tom Palin on preparing for the Premier Yearling Sale

In the first installment, a fascinating insight into how the syndicate operates

Tom Palin: hoping to find more stars of the future in Doncaster this week
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This is a sale that's been very successful for us in the past. We've bought horses like Lily's Angel and Kool Kompany here, so it's the main auction we target each year. As soon as we finish here, the dates will be in the diary for next year.

We began preparing the minute the catalogue came out and have done as much research as possible.

We look into pedigrees, nicks, stallion stats, broodmare sire records, pinhooking prices or anything that we think might give us an edge or an angle. We try and leave no stone unturned and try to be as open-minded as we can.

We don't like to pigeonhole stallions and this approach has served us well, particularly at this sale. There wouldn't have been many people who would've bought an Arakan or a Jeremy, but we did and got Toormore and Kool Kompany because of it.

Toormore wins the Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in 2015

Goffs UK do a great job of sourcing the horses, they've already been through quite a few filters before they even get to Doncaster so you can buy safe in the knowledge that you're going to get runners. I think the quality is improving year-on-year - there's been Classic winners and European champions come out of Doncaster, as we well know having found Toormore in 2012 - and this year's looks as strong a catalogue as I've seen at Donny.

We bought ten lots here last year, all in conjunction with agents, and will be doing the same this week. We try and buy into other team's success, so if we're buying a horse for Richard Hannon we use the Doyles [Peter and Ross], if we're buying one for Richard Fahey we'll use Bobby O'Ryan, and so on. It's a tried and tested method and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

We've been sent through the raw lists from the agents and trainers we're hoping to buy with and have done all the groundwork - myself, Mike Prince [Middleham Park director] and Tim Palin [Middleham Park director] have seen hundreds of horses between us and the agents have done the same - so by Tuesday morning we'll know who we're in sync with and hopefully we'll have a refined shortlist of around 50 horses.

You could say we operate on a bit of an ad hoc basis as to how many horses each trainer gets, it just depends on when our thoughts match up with those of the trainer. We do have a rule of thumb at the minute though: if you buy a horse that's going to be a two-year-old send it to a man named Richard! Be that Richard Spencer, Richard Hannon or Richard Fahey.

It's a really exciting time of year. Every time you go to a horse's box you might be pulling the next champion out and each sales season you get to apply the knowledge you've picked up in previous years. It looks like there's going to lots of competition on Tuesday but here's hoping we have some luck.

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We do have a rule of thumb at the minute though: if you buy a horse that's going to be a two-year-old send it to a man named Richard!
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