“We’re Stronger Together”, Lope Y Fernandez Bolstered By Connections

There is no denying that the stallion market is becoming increasingly difficult with appetites for stud prospects growing. There is also no questioning that the support a young stallion receives in their first few years is paramount to their success. Most stallions are an easy sell in their first year with many being oversubscribed and then numbers falling off in the years leading up to that first crop hitting the track. However, one stallion whose numbers and support could very likely stay consistent throughout those primitive years is Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}), given the number of influential breeders that are involved in his ownership.

Although standing at The National Stud in England, Lope Y Fernandez is owned by Whitsbury Manor Stud, Nick Bradley and the Newmarket-based operation as well as Coolmore, for whom the horse raced, retaining an interest. It may seem a slightly unusual set up given that Whitsbury Manor Stud have a successful stallion operation themselves, but as Ed Harper explains, when the right prospect presents itself you cannot let it pass you by.

“We really weren’t planning on buying a new stallion last year,” said Harper. “We were having a busy year at Whitsbury and we wanted to give Sergei Prokofiev another year in the limelight. But when I went and saw Lope Y Fernandez, I just thought, ‘this is a horse we need to get involved with.’”

At a similar time, Nick Bradley, who is best known for his successful racing syndicate, was seeing a worrying trend in the British stallion ranks.

“The year prior to Lope Y Fernandez being available, I was noticing a post-Brexit trend that all of these top racehorses were going to stand, primarily, in Ireland,” noted Bradley. “I spoke to a lot of UK breeders and I said, ‘Come on, we need to get ourselves organized here.’ And Ed Harper was listening.”

Once it became apparent that the Group 1-placed son of Lope de Vega was available to buy the wheels were set in motion.

“I got talking with The National Stud and Nick Bradley and thought, ‘you know, can we put a group together,’” explained Harper. “So we are the major shareholder, the National Stud owns 25% and Nick Bradley owns a nice portion as well, with Coolmore staying in too.”

From The National Stud’s perspective this structure seems a no brainer with Joe Bradley citing, “We’re stronger together,” when asked about being involved. “To incorporate really prominent breeders such as Whitsbury Manor, who have had the most unbelievable year, and Nick Bradley to really support the stallion means he will have every chance.”

In the last few weeks, we have seen several foals by the stallion on social media platforms and it appears that Lope Y Fernandez is passing on his good looks.

“One of his best qualities is the way he walks,” said Joe Bradley. “He’s such an athletic horse. He stands over 16hh and physically he’s just a very imposing horse.”

Of the first few that have hit the ground Nick Bradley has a number that have had his team “waxing lyrical,” with one colt in particular having “a great shoulder, great hip and a great action to go with it.”

Aside from the mares that will be sent to Lope Y Fernandez by his owners as well as the wider breeding population, it may not be surprising to hear that all the operators are already looking ahead to the foal and yearling sales.

“We’re probably going to send in more mares this year, his second season,” said Harper. “I think we’ve got 25 on the list to send him this season and we’ll be buying foals as well the in the ring.

All three entities were busy at the recent Tattersalls February Sale buying mares to send to Lope Y Fernandez, but Nick Bradley is thinking further down the line.

“I’ll be out there trying to buy the best fillies for Nick Bradley Racing,” said Bradley. “Last year, we had seven stakes winners, so if a couple of them could be by Lope Y Fernandez in years to come, that’d be great.”

This unique situation is not lost on those involved with it as Harper points out, “I’ve never been involved in a stallion that’s not just had the supply side of the mares helping him, but actually the demand side buying the progeny as well, which is fairly unique for a commercially priced horse.”

As the old sayings go, there is strength in numbers and teamwork makes the dream work. For Lope Y Fernandez both sayings seem to be meeting each other in the middle. As the breeding season rolls on, it is not inconceivable to expect Lope Y Fernandez’s foals to stand out during a social media scroll or to imagine his second and future books being just as large as his first.

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