Work the Sale for Success

By Alayna Cullen

Ask anyone, horse racing is about a dream; a dream of breeding, buying, owning or training a winner. The yearling sales season offers plenty of opportunity for the dream to remain alive as vendors and buyers flock from one sales complex to the next. Countless hours spent preparing, showing, inspecting, shortlisting and bidding all culminate in a few short minutes on the racecourse waiting for the horse to cross the line in front.

Graduates from the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale, which begins on Tuesday, have made this dream a reality for many over the years, with young trainer Archie Watson among them. His purchases at the sale last year have given the Lambourn-based trainer an appetite for a repeat buying performance at the 2017 renewal.

Having spent time under training maestros such as William Haggas, Simon Callaghan in America and Alec Laird in South Africa, Watson’s curriculum vitae, more information of which can be found here, would suggest he knows how to pick a horse or two and last year at Tattersalls Ireland he picked five.

“I had never been there before last year and I thought there was a lot of nice and affordable horses there,” he said. “We bought five last year that we really liked and the two that have run have both won.”

His two winners include three-time winner and Group 3-placed Corinthia Knight (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}) and We Are The World (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}). “Corinthia Knight was a very racy horse and I liked the idea of Society Rock at the time and obviously we like the idea of him a lot more now,” said Watson. “We Are The World was a lovely big Sir Percy and there are probably fewer buyers for those bigger horses in a sale like that so I thought he was very good value,”

Of the remaining three 2016 purchases, Watson said, “I thought they were all nice quality individuals [at the sales]. We have a very nice Dragon Pulse (Ire), called Arden Pulse (Ire), at home who I’ve minded; a Canford Cliffs (Ire) who was always going to be a 3-year-old that we will see out next spring and then a Kodiac (GB) who should be seen over the winter.”

Given the success Watson is enjoying in his first year as a trainer, these horses will be ones to watch out for in the coming months.

Watson was quick to praise the team of Tom Goff and Tom Biggs at Blandford Bloodstock for their assistance in the buying process. “At a sale like Tattersalls Ireland we will try to see everything between myself, Tom Goff and Tom Biggs of Blandford,” he said. “Blandford will give me a shortlist and then we look at them all together and then make the call together. It’s a big team effort and they’ve been very successful for me so far so it’s been good.”

The adage ‘you can’t put a saddle on a pedigree’ comes to mind when Watson responded to the time-old question, pedigree or physical? “I go more on the physical but I think the pedigree can help you,” he said.

Tattersalls Ireland has evolved over the years and is carving itself a niche in the sales calendar. Of the first few yearling sales on the calendar thus far, Watson said, “judging on the strength of previous sales this season I think there will be value to be had if you work the sale hard but there will be plenty of gems among them at Tattersalls Ireland.”

With the sales graduates speaking volumes for the Meath- based auction house, no doubt there will be plenty of dreamers looking for a “gem.” While a winner is not always guaranteed upon purchase there are a couple of things one can rely upon: Tattersalls Ireland will have a sale and Archie Watson will be among those hoping to buy a future winner.

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