We had an early start with several to ride out before leaving at 9am on the day of the DBS Spring Store Sales at Doncaster in May, and as usual, I was the last in the car and greeted with a lot of tutting from the others.
It was a long trek from Oxfordshire and I spent most of the journey looking up the form of relations of the unbroken horses that were to be sold that day, and by the time we got there we had a list of the horses that we had picked out specifically. Of course, that is always the plan but we end up looking at many others that catch our eye as we are always looking for the one that has the pedigree and athletic potential that, for some reason has not been spotted by the agents and trainers with bottomless pockets. Over the years, our methods and hard work have reaped rewards and we have bought good horses like King Harald (winner at Cheltenham Festival), Cossack Dancer and the unbeaten Prince Madoc amongst many others, unbroken at the sales.
Trudging around the sales was made a bit less arduous this year as there were congratulations round every corner and plenty of opportunities to talk about my favourite subjects; Carruthers and Coneygree! In fact, it was very difficult not to be looking at every horse and analysing what similarities it had to one of our heroes. This was one of the reasons we were drawn to the Kalanisi gelding that we bought. When I asked the owner whether he had a clean vet’s certificate she told me that it was perfect but admitted that she had been a bit worried when the vet had asked his colleague to come and listen to his heart. We did not like the sound of that until she told us that his heart was remarkable because it was so slow which was exactly what the vet had said about Coneygree’s heart when he arrived at Newbury before his first win of the season.
During the day, we also met up with Chicky (Lady Oaksey), Duncan and Jane King; all members of the syndicate that bred our great horses, Carruthers, Coneygree and Flintham. They were off to the TBA awards dinner that was taking place that night between the two days of the sale.
I am always keen for the incredible achievements of our hero to be recognised by everyone, so although it was going to be another 5am start to ride out before going back to the sales I was delighted to hear the beep of my phone in the middle of the night with the great news about Coneygree. He had won the TBA Pitchall Trophy for the leading chaser as well as the Mickley Trophy for the leading novice chaser of the year. Exciting stuff and a great accolade for all those involved!