Goffs November Sale: Nick Luck on why there is only one place to be this week

Goffs November Sale:  Nick Luck on why there is only one place to be this week


Each type of thoroughbred sale is a very different signifier. The premium yearling sale grabs the headlines, is used as a barometer for the overall health of the industry and offers as much in the way of gossip and people watching as the blue blooded animals under the hammer. The breeze-up suggests the emergence from winter and enables you to scent an imminent Royal Ascot winner as well as the first cut grass.

A ‘Horses in Training’ sale can be a rewarding experience if you're on the right end of it, but - as one leading owner put it to me with no little melodrama - can just as well be called the “sale of shattered dreams.”

A foal sale is the diametric opposite: with its bulging catalogue and limitless possibilities, it is perhaps the happiest of all sales, where every miniature model is a champion in waiting and every dream is intact. To the untrained eye, of course, each and every one of these weanlings is a gorgeous creation, their newness doing its best to mask any shortcomings that may manifest themselves more readily a year or two down the road.

And this is why it is so easy to admire those whose eye for a foal is either well-trained or (more likely) a brilliantly instinctive knack of seeing beyond the obvious and envisioning how bones and muscles will grow, strengthen and develop. Then, as with all horse trading, there’s a chance you might get a spectacular slice of luck with a sensational pedigree update or an emerging stallion that suddenly becomes flavour of the month.

But, mostly, sourcing the best racehorse or most saleable yearling at this infant stage is a game of skill, intuition and a fair bit of bottle. In this column twelve months ago, I wrote extensively about Edie Murray-Hayden and the supreme all-round horsemanship that had seen her turn a €56,000 foal into a €500,000 yearling.

The barnstorming Orby sale last month offered up similar success stories. Flash Conroy - a grand master of the pinhooking game - converted in royal style, passing on his No Nay Never filly out of Starlet to MV Magnier for €700,000, having acquired her for just €52,000 twelve months ago.

Needless to say, Magnier took heed of Conroy’s lofty opinion of his charge, an opinion whose credibility has been in little doubt since he snaffled a Fairy King filly for a measly Ir1,900gns in 1992 before watching the sire’s stock rise sharply through the following summer and securing 190,000gns for the very same filly in the autumn.

Further evidence of the quality on offer at last year’s Goffs November Sale came in the shape of €60,000 and €82,000 purchases that realised €300,000 and €350,000 respectively, while a 1,000,000gns yearling was originally sourced at Goffs for €330,000.

The numbers tell you that you will see some of the very best foals in the world through the next few days, with the two phases of the sale (Mon - Wed and Saturday) sandwiching the breeding stock catalogue on Thursday and Friday. If you want to speculate and accumulate or, like me, you simply have a passion for bloodstock in its purest form, there is only one place to be this week. There will be precious little rough and more than a handful of diamonds.

Nick Luck, 18 November 2018

Nick Luck will be Goffs TV guest presenter during the November Foal and Breeding Stock Sale.  Follow @goffs1866 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for all the action from the sales and watch live on the Goffs website.