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Going to the sales

Sales ring

Going to the sales is exciting, but can also be a bewildering experience. 

We have asked a few of the professionals for some handy tips when venturing to the sales ring planning to buy a horse for the first time.

Owners will most often be guided by their trainer when purchasing a horse. The ROA’s Guide to Racehorse Ownership has a section devoted to Buying a Racehorse, which also offers helpful hints and tips. The 60 page online guide is available to download free of charge here

Breeze-up tips for owners

These unique sales for two-year-olds give prospective purchasers the chance to see a horse breeze (gallop) over a couple of furlongs, either live or online, before the sale.

Ed Sackville, bloodstock agent and co-partner at Sackville Donald suggests the following helpful advice for owners heading to the breeze-up sales.

  • Ed SackvilleTiming the horses certainly gives you an advantage, however, don’t be entirely dependent on the clock - Dante winner and Derby second Libertarian did a below average time when he breezed.
  • Make sure you take into account what the going is when a horse breezes.
  • At the breeze-ups it is often worth getting horses vetted as some of them may have been put under plenty of pressure in the previous months.
  • Once you have bought a horse, don’t think that it is going to be instantly ready to run just because the day beforehand you saw it gallop two furlongs. Sometimes giving the horse a break does the world of good.
  • If you can, look at the horse before and after it breezes.

Other Sales

Throughout the year there are a number if sales which covers horses in various stages of development; foals, yearlings, horses in training. These horses will not breeze beforehand, but are available of inspection. What is the best way to approach any sale?

Anthony Bromley, co-director of Highflyer Bloodstock, suggests the following tips when buying horses at the sales:

  • Anthony BromleyDon't work alone. Having the opinion of a bloodstock agent who understands the market as well as the racehorse trainer who will train the horse is invaluable. Apart from their expert advice it is always good to have a second/third opinion on any purchase in life.
  • Discuss your budget prior to going into the sales ring and try to stick to it. Remember the race is out on the racecourse and there are no prizes for being first at the auction.
  • Make sure you watch him/her again in the pre-sales ring before you bid. By then your conformation notes should all be complete, and this last look is to ensure you are happy that the horse is coping with the occasion mentally.
  • You don't have to be a fashion follower. In the vast majority of cases a stallion's first crop of foals are by far the most expensive he will ever have. A first-season sire is very popular because no one has bought or trained a loser by him yet! That situation will soon change.
  • Don't go for a drink in the bar until after you have bought your horse!

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