THE BLOODSTOCK BLOGGER - AS SEEN ON THE GAITPOST
Choosing stallions, stud envy and building the business: our Bloodstock Blogger, Sophie Buckley, shares her latest plans for Culworth Grounds.
Mother to Albert and Athena, Sophie continues to ride as a hobby, in recent years producing champions at the Royal Dublin Horse Show, Royal Windsor and the Royal International Horse Show alongside many other wins at county level.
With Christmas long gone and the mass catering over it is back to business. Over the last couple of months, I had to begin choosing stallions for the two mares that I have.
Genetics is something that I should know a lot about as I did a module on it at University. It definitely was not an optional elective but I must have somehow survived my way through.
A lot of thought goes into what stallions to use, but is it worth it? With a full house of family for Christmas I had a look into my own family genetics. If I had been for sale at Tattersalls, would anybody have opened my door?
The conclusion was that there were plenty of family members with athletic ability but just in different disciplines. My own pedigree page would have looked pretty dismal with several runners in Greece and a National Hunt stallion for a father.
Commercially I would not have been attractive! However, there was one saving grace and that was my mother. She was a good solid Group 2 winning miler. Her speed was something that she did manage to pass on.
So if a canny bloodstock agent had taken a punt on me they would have got themselves a nice speedy two-year-old, probably a Group 2 Queen Mary winner, with a great temperament, of course.
Sadly, I didn’t really train on and went hurdling with success, but I am not sure there is a race at Cheltenham for a 100m hurdler!
So the moral of the story is that there is hope of breeding that black type horse even if the page isn’t steeped in winners.
We would all like to start our breeding operations with a nice 1000 Guineas winner but realistically for most small breeders that is not going to happen.
Both my mares are winners. At whatever level, the will to win is a really important quality to pass on. Horses and humans can have lots of talent but they have to want to get their heads over the line first.
Both my mares have plenty of performers in their families so hopefully like my own family genetics they will produce me some respectable performers and maybe even a black type horse.
Hanella is by Galileo and was a middle distance runner herself, winning over a 1m2f the same distance as her listed placed mother Strutting. Nella has already proved that she can produce winners, with her first three foals being 80 rated winners.
For her I chose first season sire Hot Streak who stands at Tweenhills. Hot Streak proved that he had plenty of speed but also has some stamina further down his pedigree which will suit Nella. As buyers are focused on buying horses for speed he is perfect for breeders who are hoping to produce a nice speedy two-year-old.
He is a great looking individual with good limbs and plenty of bone. He also has the great strapline of his speed figure being on a par with Frankel in the Dewhurst.
Lolamotion was a sprinter and won over 5 furlongs. She will be going to Darley stallion Casamento who is a very risky choice for a breeder this year as he is about to have his first runners.
On the positive side his stud fee is low to try and encourage breeders to use him and I decided he is a risk worth taking. Casamento was a good two-year-old himself winning the Racing Post Trophy.
He had some lovely yearlings sell well at the sales and there was plenty of positive chat from trainers about the ones they have in their yards. He is also a lovely correct horse with plenty of size and substance which will suit Lola.
I went to see both stallions when I was at the sales in Newmarket. Visiting studs is a dangerous occupation for me as it gives me lots of ideas. I viewed Hot Streak at Longholes Stud and not only did I like the stallion but I also rather liked the viewing walkway. I am not sure whether I took more pictures of the stallion or the walkway!
There was also the great sales pitch given to me by Michael Wilson who was impressed with my knowledge of Hot Streak’s stats. I had to break it to him later that I had spent time in the Tweenhills Tippee where the Hot Streak video was on repeat. Great marketing!
My trip to Dalham Hall where I used to work was a more familiar journey and it is like a palace for horses with a stud farm feel and although fantastic, it is not something I could replicate. Culworth Grounds has the feeling of a rural farm in the countryside which I also think is special and something not to be lost.
Winter and horses is always hard work, with endless mucking out and wet, muddy horses. They are the perfect New Year gym membership. There are so many jobs to be done but the weather is always holding us back. I often despair at my husband’s love of shiny machinery. The latest addition is mini digger. Apparently it is totally necessary to have a big and a little JCB digger, but I am secretly looking forward to the Spring when we can get them out digging and tidying up again.
The next development at Culworth Grounds is a new office building although more building means more mess and mud, hopefully the end result will be worth it.
I also have a perfect spot for that viewing walkway right outside it!