THE BLOODSTOCK BLOGGER - AS SEEN ON THE GAITPOST
In the countdown to the Dubai World Cup, Sophie Buckley goes racing at Meydan, Dubai, and ponders the question: is bigger really better?
There is a big change in our household at the beginning of February. The shooting season is over and my husband becomes a more familiar sight. It is not for long, however, as the showing season starts around the middle of March.
Soon after we got married we realised that a deal was going to have to be struck on the hobbies front. He shoots all Winter and I show all Summer and nobody is allowed to whinge! It generally works pretty well but there is definitely the odd reminder that a gun doesn’t need feeding all year round.
I had a trip to Tattersalls February sales where the remit was to try and buy another mare. Instead I came home with a yearling colt. Note to self, DO NOT IMPULSE BUY!
My excuse is that I tried to buy his listed placed mother but didn’t quite manage it. I have to admit to a quick trip to google to look up his sire, Caradak who is certainly far from fashionable but, it seems he was good horse himself and has produced some useful performers which, considering he stands in Spain, is probably not a bad achievement.
My friend and Irish event rider Aoife Clark was with me for this unexpected purchase and was looking decidedly nervous during the bidding process. I thought you were going to stop bidding at x price was repeated several times! She did the honours of naming him so the new Spanish boy is called Gonzales.
With my husband and I having a break from hobbies we went on a family holiday to Dubai. There was plenty of racing chat with racehorse trainers Charlie Hills and Johnnie Portman and bloodstock agent Alaistair Donald and their families all being on the same holiday.
We all went racing to Meydan where the Hills and Donald family both had runners. The Donald’s came out on top this time much to the devastation of the youngest Hills’s boy who was inconsolable for at least an hour. Nothing like having a bit of pressure from your children to win!
With the countdown to the Dubai World Cupunder way Meydan will be preparing for its big night. Much like everything in Dubai, Meydan is all bigger, better and shinier! But is bigger always better? It seems that by nature people are always wanting more, but maybe when we are gaining more we are losing without realising it.
With the boom in corporate hospitality, segregation seems to be becoming the norm. I think I might be a hypocrite on this topic, as I love a warm hospitality box but when it is done on a large scale some of the magic of racing can be lost.
My most enjoyed racing last year was at Thirsk. That might seem strange to many but it was a glorious evening, the sun was shining, you can get close to the horses, champagne bar, bookies and I enjoyed great conversations with total strangers.
It is that intimate feeling that makes people comfortable and everybody is friends even if they have never met before.
In contrast, Meydan is so big that finding a friend has to be done with a mobile phone and then trying to locate them might take half an hour. But there is a place for everything and it is a great showcase for Dubai and what they stand for.
On the farm we have been busy planting some more trees and hedges. With the hedging we are now starting to see the benefit of some of the planting we did when we arrived, but the trees will really be for the next generation to enjoy.
Whilst on the topic of the next generation, they took part in this year’s hedge planting but this child labour was far from cheap at 10p a spiral!
The breeding season is well underway and the mares have been under lights since January. The endless scanning has begun. I feel for both the mares and my lovely vet Bridget Gatehouse, there really are several downsides to being female and in a mare’s case scanning is one of them. It is not particularly glamorous for the vet either!
Luckily everything is going as it should and the first mare went to stud last week. So fingers crossed that next month I will telling you that she is in foal!