The story may be apocryphal, but that’s no reason to keep it out of the public eye, for it’s a good one – especially if it’s true.
Excellent Art, the likely favourite for the Oct.27 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (Gr. 1T), is well–established now as an inmate of the Ballydoyle yard from where Aidan O’Brien has sent out three Breeders’ Cup winners since 2001. But he is an unusual inmate in that he came not from the blue-blooded ranks of the affiliate Coolmore Stud or the sales ring, but was bought out of another stable, the Newmarket yard of Neville Callaghan.
Callaghan trains for Ballydoyle patron Michael Tabor, so it was not unusual to find agent Demi O’Byrne looking at horses there. But in this case, it seems O’Byrne’s skills really do allow him to spot a champion out of the corner of his eye. Callaghan, knowing the ability of both O’Byrne and Excellent Art, is rumoured to have instructed that the latter stayed firmly in his box, out of sight of the former.
The plan, unfortunately, didn’t work out, and O’Byrne is said to have been so taken with Excellent Art that he recommended a bid from the Coolmore clan.
Owner Matthew Green had little hesitation in selling, though he has kept a share in the St James’ Palace Stakes (Eng-1) winner, “I believe that if you are to be a successful owner, you have got to be willing to trade,” Green said. “With prize money so poor, you have got to approach ownership as a business.”
In which case Green is certainly a successful owner, having earlier sold Art Trader, a $130,000 foal, to Hong Kong for $800,000.
The family name is even better known in the art world than it is in racing. Richard Green, the company, has three galleries in swanky parts of central London, specialising in early 17th century works through to the modern day.
Perhaps inevitably, father and sons deal extensively in the great equine art painters such as George Stubbs, John Frederick Herring, and Sir Alfred Munnings, for whom Mathew Green’s grandfather acted as agent.
Extract by Richard Griffiths from BloodHorseNOW.com