Headed to the Emerald Isle This Weekend
September 23, 2011 · By Terry Finley · Share
There’s an old Irish proverb that says “Sell the cow, sell the sheep, but never be without the horse.” I heartily concur, although I’d probably amend thousands of years of tradition to say “never be without a good racehorse.” Fortunately a large portion of Ireland would agree with me on that one.
I’m heading to the Emerald Isle this weekend. Two years ago, we picked up three year ings from Goff’s (photo of their sales ring at right) and brought them back to the U.S. to run. This year, we’re exploring the possibility of keeping a runner or two there to break, train, and run - maybe with Aiden O’Brien, who is basically the Irish version of Todd Pletcher, or with a few other trainers I have in mind.
The exchange rate has swung 30 percent in our favor since we were there last time, so that should really help us in making our purchases. One of the things we know about Irish racing specifically is that it has taken some hard hits and as a result, a lot of people have gotten out of the business. The industry in Ireland is in much worse shape than it is here in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean the quality of their stock has diminished. We just see it as a good opportunity to get our hands on some very nice horses from a slightly out-of-the-box source.
It goes without saying that they produce good, sound horses over there - hearty stock. Young horses are raised differently than they are here, and that’s one of the things that’s been very attractive to us. A lot of the sellers are Irish farmers that just have these yearlings out in the back pen at home, so you have to recalibrate your eyes and know you’re not going to see the finished product like you would in Book One at Keeneland. It’s kind of like looking for a diamond in the rough.
Having just finished up at a highly-competitive edition of the Keeneland September Sale, it’ll be a change of pace to shop the Irish market. There aren’t as many horses cataloged and it doesn’t really attract the masses of people from all over the world that Keeneland does, so you’re not fighting against as many buyers.
We know some of our investors have expressed an interest in these kinds of horses, and incorporating a few business trips to Ireland as part of the racehorse ownership deal will definitely be an added plus. There’s also nothing to keep us from moving a horse to the U.S. if it does well over there, but I think this opportunity to have a few runners competing in that country holds great potential.
The nice thing about Ireland is that it’s all about the horse over there. There’s no doubt horses and racing are really woven into the fabric of their society. I’m looking forward to being back.
On Saturday I’ll be in South Bend to watch my son Ryan’s Notre Dame soccer game, then I leave for Ireland on Sunday, arriving Monday morning. I come back Thursday and will be looking forward to running Sunrise Smarty in the Vosburgh at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. Meanwhile, the team is hard at work getting the details together for new partnerships on all the September purchases. It’s a busy week ahead.
See you at the races!