Everybody loves a bargain and Ireland’s leading trainers will again be looking for some value in the Derby sales, writes Josh Graham.
The Tattersalls Derby sale takes place from June 23-24 with plenty of potential future Grade 1 winners up for grabs.
We caught up with some of the Irish trainers who will be attending the upcoming sales and are keen to work with new owners to source a future stable star.
National Hunt trainer Terence O’Brien bought Articulum at the sale for just €9,000 a few years ago.
Articulum went on to place third in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in 2019 and the County Cork trainer revealed the result gave him great satisfaction having sourced the horse himself.
“Everyone sets out to try and get a Grade 1 horse from the Derby sale and hopefully they’ll end up that way,” O’Brien said.
“But obviously only a very small minority do, so when you do get a horse that does, there’s great satisfaction and it is good for business as well that you can source these horses.
“The fact that he was bought so cheaply was another feather in the cap. It’s probably easier if you have a big budget, you have a better chance of buying these horses.
“When you have a smaller budget and you can still do it, it gives you a bit of confidence that it can be done again.
“That’s the thrill of going up there and trying to get something. It is possible to do it, you needn’t necessarily spend the big money.”
O’Brien - who also sourced Ballyadam Approach, a third-place finisher at the 2016 Irish National - divulged the key to hopefully finding a cut-price bargain from the horses on offer at the sale.
He added: “You have to look around a bit more and start forgiving a few faults.
“Whether the sire isn’t that popular or maybe they might not be put together as well as you’d like them.
“The important thing is that they can move. You must have your homework done and stick to your budget.
“But be prepared to walk away if you don’t see anything you like because you have them for a long time and if you are not satisfied the first day you get them it’s a lot harder to deal with over the next two years.”
Lorna Fowler runs Rahinston Farm & Stud with husband Harry and believes their background in consigning at the sales gives them an edge when it comes to purchasing.
The County Meath trainer said: “Doing all the consigning gives you a leg up when it comes to looking for horses. It’s very interesting to see what the good agents buy, what they are looking for in horses.
“Obviously no-one tells you anything when they are looking at your horse when you are consigning, but you know the prep that goes into them, and the precision required.
“These horses are so well handled and so well prepared, and that undoubtedly makes the job of a trainer much easier.
“It’s like building the foundations of a house. If you build them well early, you know the rest is going to come easier.”
Fowler, whose aunt-in-law is top trainer Jessie Harrington, knows what she is looking for when it comes to unearthing a gem.
Her business sold top hurdler Asterion Forlonge, who came third at the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham this year, and bred, consigned, and sold Barters Hill who has four Grade 1 wins to his name.
“To get value you have to compromise on something and the one thing you probably compromise on is pedigree,” she added.
“You don’t want to buy an exposed pedigree. If the mare has had several foals and they’ve been found wanting - I think it’s an error to get into that.
“But where you can find value is with the unknown - a second or first foal where nobody’s had the chance to do anything on the track yet.
“And perhaps if you are willing to compromise on size a little bit that might also give you the opportunity for value.”
If you are interested in sourcing a horse at the upcoming sales now is your chance to contact a trainer and begin your journey to owning a Punchestown or Cheltenham festival winner. See https://bit.ly/3yUAFgI to find a trainer and start your journey.