Hassett’s pinhooker diary from Tattersalls

John Hassett: sources yearlings for Seven Hills Bloodstock

PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS Hassett's pinhooker diary from Tattersalls
5:42PM 10 OCT 2016


Johnny Hassett gives an insight into how a breeze-up consignor operates

MYSELF and Jeremy Brummitt are responsible for sourcing yearlings for Seven Hills Bloodstock, an Enterprise Incentive Scheme run by Eamonn O'Connor which aims to buy yearlings who will then be sold on at the breeze-up sales. We've turned a profit in our first two years, and now that we're into our third year we're aiming to expand our horizons a little bit.

However, when you're looking for a good horse you're always going to be looking through a very narrow window as there are so few of them about. There was 750 horses in Book 2 last year but there's only three of them on the cover of this year's catalogue.

The broad criteria that covers what we're looking for is a horse that can gallop two furlongs in 20 seconds but has the scope to stay a mile plus as a three-year-old. It's important our horses progress as what we really want is to become an established and recognised vendor of good-quality horses.

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The breeze-ups are a particularly tough market as you really have to have it all. You can't show up with an ordinary horse nowadays, the market has become very discerning and incredibly polarised. You have to have a physical that ticks all the boxes, you need a sire that's in vogue and you have to be fast and sound. And you need to have them ready on a given day because you can't run them next week instead.

We've already bought six yearlings so far that, four at the Goffs UK Premier Sale, one from Tattersalls Ireland and one from Goffs. Those horses are all back at Ballyhannon House where I do their prep work.

The Donny horses have been broken and are being ridden away, and the Goffs and Fairyhouse horses are having a couple of weeks off. We keep them in for the first week to let them acclimatise to their new surroundings. I'll start working on those two horses once I get back from Newmarket while the new arrivals are having their fortnight off.

The reason we only bought one at Tatts Ireland and one at Goffs is because we felt the nice horses there were making a lot of money. Historically people run out of money before they run out of horses, so we're hoping the market might start to soften a little during Book 2 and then we can get at the ones we want without putting our profit in jeopardy.

Once we're at the sales we inspect half the lots each and make our own initial shortlist. Then myself and Jeremy swap lists and look at each others lots and keep whittling away until we have a shortlist of about 12. Next we'll go and view those horses together and decide which ones to vet. We don't always agree – when two minds are exactly the same one of them is completely unnecessary!

By Sunday afternoon we'd looked at all the lots we wanted to look at from Monday and Tuesday's sessions and have our shortlist of five or six we're going to get vetted.

We never set a target on the amount of horses we're going to buy from a sale. We know exactly the kind of horse we want and we know how much money we're willing to pay for them. If they come to us, they come to us. You could just keeping bidding on all the nice horses, but then you'll have already given the breeze-up price for them and then it's a wasted exercise. You've got to get value.

The horses have to come within budget as cost is the enemy of profit. We've made our choices and they've worked out for us in the past.

When you buy a horse it means one of two things; either you've got it right and everybody else got it wrong, or everybody else got it right and you've got it wrong.

Let's hope we get it right a few times this week.

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