As published in ANZ Bloodstock News
Back due to popular demand and things are good.
The trip started extremely well. On presenting my documents at check in at the airport, the nice lady behind the Emirates desk asked me if I was staff. On replying, that I might look like a flight attendant (and I have dated a few) I am not there yet.
My new best friend called over a couple of her colleagues and there was a lot of tapping and pointing at the computer. I was getting a little worried on the other side of the desk, only to be told that I had been upgraded to first class. What a result.
Leaving the awful winter of Melbourne behind has not been hard. After 23 hours in my first class cabin (it will be hard to go back) I landed in Paris to be greeted by my old friend the sun.
Deauville could not look better in the glorious sunshine. On walking into the sales complex, you would not believe it but the first person I walked into was a Kiwi – our very own Bruce Slade from Gai Waterhouse racing. After a chat with him, I walked straight into Eden Harrington from Think Big Stud. I was a tad confused as to whether I was in Sydney or France.
Over the last couple of days, the usual suspects have flocked into town, headed by Peter Maher and Terry Henderson. Mr Maher has just completed the Tour de France, obviously reporting on it not riding in it. What Peter’s qualifications were to report on this, we are still yet to determine. Newcomers this year (besides the above mentioned Bruce and Eden) include David Kobritz and Teresa Poon from Musk Creek Farm and leading Sydney vet Greg Nash and wife Andre, Ric Wylie. After last year’s leading stella performance, the red carpet has been rolled out for Waratah Thoroughbreds’ Paul Fudge and his entourage. Speaking of last year and his performance, there was much debate as to whether agent Bahen (Justin) would be allowed entry back in. It turns out the Mizzen Mast filly he purchased has been named Flotilla and was an impressive winter at her second start. So, he was let off with a warning and granted him a reprieve.
After a hard days inspections in the 35 degree sweltering heat, we quickly retreated for lunch in the new Arqana restaurant and sampled Hubie de Burgh’s favourite rose which washed down the delicious calamari. As lunch often does in Europe, it lead straight into dinner with a stellar line up that included Lord Grimthorpe (of Juddmonte fame), Sir Christopher Musgrove (of Narvick International), the (dis)Honourable Edward Sackville, Angus Gold and yet to be titled yours truly. I copped a bashing over dinner about the Aussie’s dismal performance in the Olympics. I tried to get the Diamond Jubilee Stakes included as a Gold Medal, but they were hearing nothing of it. In fact Lord Grimthorpe kindly offered to use our national icon as a test mare for Frankel in his upcoming stud career.
Sir Christopher Musgrove of Narvick International, turns out to be great mates with Arthur Mitchell. He reports that they have just spent two weeks in Greece together, which will explain why Greece is in so much trouble and the recent riots that could have kicked off after sightings of Arthur in his mankind.
Day two was more lunch and a few inspections that led into the pre sale cocktail party. As you would expect a crowd of 600 buyers, vendors and pretenders attended at the International Equestrian Centre. We were treated to Moet in every colour, foie grass and lobster. I have figured out however how the French stay stick thin – the canapes come on sticks and there are not much of them. I was starving by the time we left.
The croud was dazzled by premier show horsemen Frederick Pignon (yes and I have never heard of him either) and his famous stallions. Using only light rope and often only his hands and voice, Mr Pignon ran, danced and twirled in circles with his horses who reared and bowed on command. Another highlight was the presentation of the lifetime achievement award, in the form of a gold whip, to master jockey, trainer and and owner of Haras d’Quesnay (home of the late Anabaa) Alec Head.
After the cocktail party, I rushed to meet one of my favourite exported Aussie girls, Tania Henry-May of Darley. A very pleasant surprise at the gathering was meeting Francesca Cumani’s brother Matt and lets just say looks run in the family. With the sale starting the next day, I thought that I had better head home early to bed.
As you would have read the sales started with a bang. A Gaileo filly made €1.1 million and Aussie purchasers were headed by Paul Fudge’s Waratah Thoroughbreds, who secured a colt by Medicean for €320,000. Tour de France expert Peter Maher through his agent Laurent Benoit of Broadhurst Agency snared a gorgeous colt by Medaglia d’Oro. There were two Fastnet fillies offered – with one selling for €180,000 to South African-based Form Bloodstock. The second being passed in and my Belmont Bloodstock Agency securing as a private sale for a Victorian client