Araci has New Hopes for Old Mill

Ibrahim Araci | Tattersalls

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You may not have met Ibrahim Araci. The Turkish businessman prefers to keep away from the spotlight. But when it comes to buying horses, he knows what he likes and rarely does things by halves.

Flanked by his daughter Pinar and bloodstock advisor Rob Speers, Araci can often be found to the left of the rostrum in the Tattersalls sales ring, making bold plays for some of the choicest lots on offer at the yearling, breeze-up or breeding stock sales.

Unafraid to see the hammer fall in his favour, Araci ranked second on the buyers' list at last year's December Mares' Sale, taking home three mares worth over two million guineas to lay foundations at his newly acquired stud farm, based just outside Newmarket in Chippenham.

“Mr. Araci might have only sprung into the forefront of people's minds after the December Sales,” says Speers. “Of course, he bought three very nice mares there in Butterscotch (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Guerriere (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Predawn (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), but he's been selling, breeding and racing horses in the UK now for six or seven years. He has invested significant money in the past, building towards this moment but it's very exciting now to be able to bring it all in-house under our own banner at the farm.”

The farm in question is Old Mill Stud. Formerly owned by the late David Shekells, co-breeder of stakes-winning Royal Applause (GB) brothers Mister Cosmi (GB) and Auditorium (GB), the 100-acre property is now home to 13 of Araci's private mares.

“We have been looking for the right farm in the Newmarket area for quite a few years now,” says Speers. “It's taken time to find what we thought was the right property. When Old Mill came on the market about 18 months ago, I took Mr. Araci and Pinar around and all three of us agreed that it was the right place. We were lucky to be able to secure it.”

When it came to location, Newmarket was always going to be the UK base for the Araci family; after all it was at the Rowley Mile during Guineas Weekend that their involvement in horseracing began. Ibrahim Araci, a safe 2,500 miles away in Istanbul, was blissfully unaware as his daughter Pinar cheered home Cockney Rebel (Ire) (Val Royal) to win the colts' Classic in 2007, sparking an interest that would become an expensive hobby for years to come.

“When I was at Reading University my best friend owned an arable farm just outside Newmarket and I went over to visit,” says Pinar Araci. “She invited me for the weekend and told me there was great racing. I had no idea that it was Guineas weekend or even what the Guineas were, but she took me racing and I absolutely loved it. I even stayed for a couple of extra days. I visited Tattersalls and stud farms nearby and by the time I left, I was hooked.

“Later that year we decided to get involved because by then I had managed to convince Dad that it was a good idea. In December 2007, we came to Tattersalls and bought our first mares. By May 2008, we had bought a farm in Turkey.”

By 2011, just four years after Pinar's first encounter, they were back at the Rowley Mile but this time as owners and with a runner in the Newmarket Classic. Native Khan (Fr) (Azamour {Ire}), already a dual Group 3 winner, ran a highly creditable third that day to a horse you may have heard of: Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}).

Native Khan (Fr) is now one of five stallions that Araci stands in Turkey where the family's breeding operation has quadrupled in size since 2008. With 44 mares to breed from and a second farm under construction, they are leading owner-breeders in the region.

“One of Mr. Araci's first horses in the UK was Native Khan,” says Speers. “He was really the horse that helped cement his interest in British racing. Native Khan came from the Craven Breeze-up Sale and he won the Solario, the Craven, was third to Frankel in the Guineas and fifth in the Derby. He was a genuine Group 1 horse.”

The day before Native Khan won the Craven S. in Newmarket, the Aracis returned to the Craven Breeze-up to purchase an Oasis Dream (GB) filly they would later name Chigun (GB). Picked out by the late Sir Henry Cecil, she won three times at two and was the last group winner he would train.

“We didn't get to work with Sir Henry for as long as we'd have liked,” says Pinar. “He was a genius. I would call him a magic man. He understood the horses so well and I had so much to learn from him. He picked Chigun and he always said we have to breed from her and we did. We have named her 3-year-old Dansili (GB) filly, in-training with Hugo Palmer, Warren Rose (GB).”

“We actually reserved the name and were waiting for the right filly out of Chigun to come along to use it,” adds Speers.

“[Warren Rose] is still pretty much untried but everyone that has ridden her has really liked her and it will be a poignant moment if she could be a success because Mr. Araci and Pinar were very fond of Sir Henry.”

Chigun continues to keep very good company as a member of the select broodmare band at Old Mill Stud which Speers has high hopes for.

“We have 13 mares on the farm at the moment,” he says. “I would say that we could take up to somewhere between 15 and 20 but any more than that and we'd be looking to expand. I really believe in all of the mares we have walking the farm at the moment though. The three mares we bought at the sales and the other younger mares that we have would all have a right on pedigree, looks and racing performance to turn into blue hens; it wouldn't be a big surprise.”

Among the haul from Tattersalls last December was Group 3-placed Galileo (Ire) mare, Butterscotch (Ire), sold in foal to American Triple Crown winner Justify for 700,000gns.

“Butterscotch has had a wonderful Justify foal who we're absolutely delighted with and she visits Kingman (GB) in 2020,” says Speers. “She's a mare that I have a lot of faith in, particularly having seen her first foal. Although by Galileo, she was a stakes filly over seven furlongs, and she is sister to Coach House (Ire) who was a very fast horse. She is a daughter of Lesson In Humility (Ire) (Mudadil), who was a Group 1 horse over 6 furlongs, placed at Royal Ascot in the Golden Jubilee. She's got a fast family so the Oasis Dream, Invincible Spirit, Kingman line should really suit her.”

Another from the sale was Predawn (Ire), a full-sister to Oaks winner Qualify (Ire) bought in foal to No Nay Never for 600,000gns and due to visit Lope De Vega (Ire) this year. Completing the well-bred triumvirate is Guerriere (Ire), the listed-placed Invincible Spirit mare currently in foal to Lope De Vega (Ire) who had a price tag of 825,000gns.

“Guierriere was the most expensive of the three mares, she visits Blue Point (Ire),” says Speers. “She is by Invincible Spirit who's obviously a speed influence and she has a pedigree that would suit Shamardal. Shamardal is not available to outside breeders this year and Mr. Araci was hugely taken by his son Blue Point's performances at Royal Ascot and really liked him as an individual. Where most of the time we'll be looking to use proven sires on our young mares, Blue Point has all of the attributes to be a very exciting stallion and we wanted to cover one our best mares with him.”

He continues, “As well as the mares that we bought we have Bella Nostalgia (Ire) who's a stakes-placed Raven's Pass filly. We have She's Mine (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), we have Vasilia (GB) (Dansili {GB}) who is the dam of three stakes horses including Dream of Dreams (Ire) (Dream Ahead). Then, of course, there's Chigun who's a Group 3-winning daughter of Oasis Dream (GB). All of them have the potential to be great mares. We hope to race their daughters and their daughters' daughters, and we hope to build families.”

Building families might be the long-term aim at Old Mill Stud but in the meantime, building the farm is their main priority.

“Given all of the investment into development there is a high chance that we'll be consigning horses in between times,” confirms Speers. “We will focus on having good quality horses, racing and developing our young families but we'll also be selling quality stock and raising the awareness of Old Mill. From a commercial point of view, we need to make it pay and build a business for the long term.”

The size of Old Mill Stud means that it will only ever be a boutique operation, but Pinar hopes that in addition to her father having success on the racecourse, they will develop 'must-see' consignments at the sales.

“When we go to a sale, I would love to get to the point where everyone comes to look at our lots first,” says Pinar. “I would like to be firmly on the map. I look up to Juddmonte, but we don't want to go crazy with numbers and we'll always be boutique. I want our bloodlines to go on forever so that when you look at a page and you see that family, you know it's the Araci family.”

The 'Araci families' are already well established in their homeland of Turkey, where in a relatively short amount of time they have got to the stage of breeding their homebred mares to their homebred stallions. Bridging the gap between the two nations is another aim for the future.

“I would like to increase the relationship between Turkey and England,” says Pinar. “We want to be able to breed horses in Turkey that are good enough to perform in England but there are a lot of regulations that we need to overcome first.”

“At the moment it's purely just an import market into Turkey,” reiterates Speers. “But I know Mr. Araci would take huge pleasure in seeing Turkish-bred and -owned horses being successful in the UK and globally. By raising the quality of horse in Turkey and hopefully by having the stud here in the UK we'll help him to achieve that.”

As they settle into their base at Old Mill Stud, it's fair to say that we're likely to see a few more homebreds in the Aracis' silks, and they won't be short on pedigree. Be sure to keep an eye out for the odd Turkish suffix too.

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