The Sales Inferno

January 23rd, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

I am off to Doncaster Sales tomorrow (Tuesday), for a day out more than anything.

The last time I went there was before Christmas, and I was very close to acquiring a horse from a leading Irish yard. I had spoken to the trainer beforehand and he gave me every encouragement, but when I looked at the horse’s races I noticed that he was a weak finisher.

He had run in high-class races but evidently in the role of a pacemaker, and I know from past experience that such horses can quickly lose their spirit and will to win. In this case the horse had not been finishing his races and despite standing out in the ring beforehand, and with a top Irish bloodstock agent and trainer willing me on for another bid, I stuck by my judgement.

It was obviously with a degree of trepidation that I watched his first race for his new trainer and having travelled well on the bridle to the second last, he dropped away tamely and finished about 20 lengths behind the winner. He has since run twice more in similar fashion, last time beaten 74 lengths last of four.

I actually believe the horse will prove a handy novice chaser when he switches to fences, probably next season, but the key may be to give him a break to try and rekindle his enthusiasm.

The point of this story is that it’s easy to find yourself drawn into the excitement and frenzy of a bidding war at the sales and you have to remember that there are plenty of people out there who have vested interests in the outcome.

Since I started in this business I have worked on the principle that the most important relationship in life is with yourself. If I were a natural salesman I could sell anything to anyone, but I am not. I can only sell or be involved with things that I believe in, be it a horse, a book or, most notably, a selection.

This is not how the business generally works. Most trainers are naturals – I have seen and heard some performances worthy of an Oscar nomination – but that is not my way.

Anyway, let’s see how I get on tomorrow.

Moving on to last weekend, I decided at late notice to pay a visit to Haydock. It was an excellent card, and the horse dominating my mind as I left the track was Neon Wolf. Harry Fry’s six-year-old impressed in the paddock beforehand and moved smoothly through the race before finding a change of gear to go clear approaching the last.

Plans for Cheltenham are uncertain, with the connections suggesting he may step up in trip for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle rather than the Supreme. Although bred to stay three miles – he won a point-to-point – I would not expect him to tackle that far at Cheltenham. In time, though, he should thrive over that distance.

This is the first horse to have excited me this season.

Bye for now

Marten Signature



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