Historic stud offers rare Tatts Book 1 yearling
Peter Reynolds (right) with Ballymacoll Stud star Conduit
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Famed Ballymacoll Stud celebrates landmark
By James Thomas 6:29PM 3 OCT 2016
THE historic Ballymacoll Stud in County Meath reached the outstanding landmark of 30 Group 1 winners on Saturday, when Sir John Hawkwood landed the Metropolitan Handicap.
The feat has been achieved despite the stud breeding from a small, select broodmare band that has been nurtured over decades, and visitors to Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale on Tuesday have the rare chance to buy a yearling with those brilliant bloodlines as the operation – currently up for sale – puts its Dubawi filly out of Gift Range (lot 76), a Listed-winning daughter of one Ballymacoll Classic winner in Spectrum and a sister to another in Golan, up for sale through Corduff Stud.
Spectrum and Golan are among a host of Classic winners bred by Ballymacoll, along with the likes of Conduit, North Light, Sun Princess and Troy. The stud's last three Group 1 winners – Glass Harmonium, Fiorente and Sir John Hawkwood, have all struck in Australia, though.
"To reach 30 Group 1 winners was significant," said Ballymacoll's general manager Peter Reynolds. "Our last three Group 1 winners have come in Australia. Glass Harmonium, Fiorente and now this lad. Interestingly, this was Sir John Hawkwood's first attempt at a Group 1. He's been in the wilderness for some time but they've been patient with him and he's back now and doing the business."
Reynolds concedes that antipodean success isn't something that the stud had planned, but that it was something it was willing to embrace.
"It's kind of a chicken and egg situation in Australia," he explains. "What's happening is that because of our success in Australia we've been marketing our horses for Australia as well. For example, I've been using horses like Redoute's Choice and Fastnet Rock."
While top-level success may be nothing new to Ballymacoll, using stallions to suit foreign markets isn't the only change the stud has made, as earlier in the year it was revealed that the farm was up for sale.
"We've had plenty of interest and we've had some offers, we just haven't had an offer decent enough yet, but I feel we're getting there," Reynolds said. "I'd like to sell it as an entire unit, the bloodstock, the farm, and do what the Weinstock and Sobell family did in 1960 when they bought the place lock, stock and barrel and kept the bloodlines going. If I can get someone to do that I'd be much happier than splitting it up. If we don't succeed in doing that this year or early next year, the likelihood is that we'll go to public auction and we'll have to take our chances.
"I'm old fashioned enough to think there'll be another Weinstock out there who'll buy it up and take it over and put their imprint on it and keep the families going for another 50 years."
Whether someone will come along and take the reins of Ballymacoll quite in the mould of Reynolds remains to be seen, but what can be in no doubt is that the uncertain future of one of the world's most renowned nurseries reflects just how difficult a climate the owner-breeder currently has to operate in.
"Commercially it's very difficult to deal with the type of horses we're breeding," Reynolds said. "Owner-breeders are a dying breed, I'm afraid. Most of our best owner-breeders tend to breed to race the fillies and sell the colts. Everyone wants a quick buck.
"We don't breed that type of horse, they're not precocious but they're tough horses. We're still trying to breed Classic winners, although we've been going to some fast stallions in the last couple of years like Dark Angel and Kodiac. You have to put some speed in at times as well otherwise you end with them all being two-milers if you're not careful."
Reynolds added that today's rare yearling on offer – by the hugely in-demand Dubawi and also a relation to Derby runner-up Tartan Bearer and Great Voltigeur Stakes winner Bonny Scot – is the result of needing to keep the stud financially viable.
"We sell the odd horse like this, privately or at public auction," Reynolds said. "I just felt it was time to get some money in for this filly. We have the family, we have the mother. She's a lovely individual. We'll see how we go with her. The decision to sell her was purely a commercial one, the operation has to self fund."
The 285-acre Ballymacoll Stud – also the birthplace of the legendary Arkle – is being marketed by private treaty and while no reserve price has been fixed it is anticipated the property will realise around €12-13 million. The sale is being handled by REA Coonan of Maynooth.