I guess we all know that some people have more money than sense. That’s how I started a news piece yesterday, and many might think it equally appropriate today. I’m not writing about Harry Redknapp again. This time it’s Coolmore boss John Magnier who is in the spotlight.
Now there’s a world of difference between the two. Harry got fooled, whilst Magnier is quite definitely nobody’s fool. But splashing out a European record 3.6 million guineas on a yearling takes some nerve, not least because there’s virtually (absolutely?) no chance of making his money back on the racetrack. If the money matters, Magnier is taking a punt that the horse will do well enough on the racetrack to be able to command a decent stud fee. He’s tried that before, on the previous most expensive yearling, and it didn’t work out then.
What do we know about this baby? He’s certainly of good stock, with Galileo as his daddy and Shastye as mum. That makes him a full brother to this year’s Oaks runner up Secret Gesture. Now she is owned by Sheikh Fahad al Thani and the Qatar Racing team, and they were the only rivals to Coolmore at yesterday’s auction in Newmarket.
Qatar opened the bidding at 1 million guineas, and, as they say, it escalated from there.
There’s no question that Coolmore runs its horseracing operation as a business, and a very successful one at that. But, as we know very well, when it comes to betting, it’s value you are after, and that surely has to hold true when it comes to buying horseflesh. I have to question whether paying that amount of money represents value. Risk, it certainly does.
Consider the fate of the previous most expensive yearling, River Dancer. Coolmore bought this son of Sadler’s Wells for 3,400,000 guineas way back in the year 2000. He wasn’t a total flop on the racecourse, winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong. Yet River Dancer never had the opportunity to prove himself at stud, as by the time he obtained his black type, he had been gelded.
Makes you wonder what the future holds for the new boy.