Conduit and Tartan Bearer
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
(Photo : Bloodhorse)
“IT’S NEVER TOO LATE”
We all know that the racehorse breeding game is a long one, and there are those who would believe that the senior years are an inappropriate time to kick off a breeding operation. Yet you only have to look at some of South Africa’s most celebrated breeders, Graham Beck and Bridget Oppenheimer, and what they’re up to right now in expanding their breeding holdings well into their 80’s, to know that the bug that drives mankind is a closer relative of emotion than it is a matter of cold logic.
We often have this conversation with one of our more “senior” clients at Summerhill, and we’re quick to remind him and ourselves of the story behind the Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland. Founded by the late Lord Albert Weinstock in his 69th year, here was one of England’s leading businessmen embarking on what some saw as a “madman’s folly”, at his County Meath farm in Ireland, yet by the time he passed away on July 23rd 2002, His Lordship had left behind a stream of world-class racehorses.
A man of humble beginnings, the success of Lord Weinstock’s breeding operation, largely conducted under the leadership of Peter Reynolds, has resulted in fifty Group One victories from twenty eight individual Group winners stretching back to 1966, following a founding investment in 1960.
From a scant twenty three mares, yielding on average 17 foals a year, this is a staggering success story by any standards. His legacy was never more evident than in the outcome of this year’s renewal of one of England’s greatest races, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.1), staged at Ascot at the backend of July, in which graduates of the farm, Conduit and Tartan Bearer, finished first and second.
“We’ve kept it going, and we need days like these. Lord Weinstock was nearly here for the last one (King George) when Golan won this race; he’d only been dead a week, God bless him” opined Reynolds.
“Conduit’s won a Classic, a Breeder’s Cup and now a King George, he can run at top speed for a very long time. He’s got great stamina, and when he kicks into gear, he keeps stepping up and up and finds plenty”.
“Obviously the Breeders Cup will be in consideration again. Conduit was supplemented last year, and is an automatic qualifier this year. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr1) is the one race the team still has to crack, and personally, I wouldn’t mind if we had the two runners in it. It’s a race Lord Weinstock wanted to win really badly, and before the show goes off the road, we have to win the “Arc”. Conduit could go for both (the Arc and Breeders Cup); the timing is fine this year”.
Long live Ballymacoll, just as His Lordship did.