There was a Betfair board meeting on Monday followed by the board Christmas dinner at a London restaurant. This finished at around 11 and I headed off to Suffolk. I got badly lost heading out of London but eventually found the M11 – I arrived at Ickworth House (www.ickworthhotel.co.uk) at around 1 a.m.
I had hoped to stay at Newmarket overnight, but as happens with the big sales every hotel in and around Newmarket was fully booked. Ickworth House, a National Trust property, was very pleasant if a little faded in its elegance. After breakfast I headed off to Tattersalls and met up with Tom Goff – we headed down to the New England stud (www.newenglandstud.com) where I had a couple of purchases from last week’s foal sale.
The Swettenham Stud is currently having a major worldwide dispersal, and it is a rare opportunity to buy into some of the more closely held Sangster bloodlines. Robert Sangster had six sons and a daughter from his three wives – on his death his estate passed on to his children which obviously created complications. I don’t know the details but I gather some of them wanted to sell up and others didn’t – as a result all of his bloodstock has been put up for auction and some individual family members have been buying a few horses back. I nipped in for a couple of their foals last week.
I had paid 110k guineas for lot 1270, a Rock of Gibraltar bay filly out of Duchy of Cornwall, dam of a number of very good Australian performers. She was an April foal and as such was quite a baby to look at, but a real sweetie and very relaxed. I bent down to look at her knees and she gave me a friendly nip on the shoulder. She had a nice walk – a wee bit shaky but they are at this age.
I had paid 150k guineas for lot 1468, a Pivotal chestnut filly out of Aunt Pearl, dam of several group performers worldwide. As a February foal she was a lot further forward than the Rock of Gibraltar, in fact striking so – she looked more like a yearling. Nice looking again, but the truth is I wouldn’t really have a clue how to size up a horse of this age.
I got some pictures which I’ll post in due course. We headed back to Tattersalls to look at a couple of broodmares – I’m not buying but I thought it would be worthwhile having a look round. I was introduced to Simon O’Donnell, Aussie former top class cricketer and now a bloodstock agent. I briefly met Paul Shanahan from Coolmore and had a good chat with John Ferguson who buys for Sheikh Mohammed.
I headed off to St. Gatien to see if I could catch up with Pete Chapple-Hyam, but he wasn’t there – he’d picked up a prize in London the previous night and hadn’t made it back. I headed home.
In the evening Jane and I went out to 15, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant up in London where he was hosting an entrepreneurs dinner. 15 is the home of Jamie’s experiment where he employs former criminals (normally straight from prison) and tries to retrain them as chefs. It was very thought provoking – Jamie joined us afterwards for a chat. Thinking about the Ickworth I said I thought he should try to do something with the National Trust.
Ours ran well on Monday, finishing a well beaten second. He’ll go novice chasing now.