Barton Stud Back In Premier Fray

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Barton Stud’s Tom Blain | Laura Green

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As an operation on the outskirts of Newmarket about to celebrate its centenary, it’s only natural that Barton Stud has a long history of consigning locally at Tattersalls, but it dipped a toe in the Doncaster waters last August and found them pleasingly warm. Twelve months on, Barton Stud returns to the Goffs UK Premier Sale this week with an enhanced draft of 10 yearlings and manager Tom Blain is looking forward to his favourite time of the bloodstock year.

“I love the sales,” he says. “Barton Stud has always been a boarding facility but recently we have particularly focused on the sales; it’s a part of the industry that I really enjoy.”

The stud, which has been owned by the Broughton family since 1925 and once stood Nasrullah, has made pronounced progression on the commercial front since Blain joined the team in 2013. This year, along with the 10 horses heading north to Yorkshire, it will be busy throughout the Tattersalls October Sale with more than 30 yearlings consigned across the first three books.

Blain continues, “It’s my job to focus on who is buying what and I generally have my head in the game the whole time. I think I have a good head for values and I hope that can be of help to some of the smaller English breeders we consign for who wouldn’t have the same time to devote to it.”

The stud’s location in Bury St Edmunds and proximity to Newmarket’s major farms means that it has naturally been a popular port of call for breeders wanting to walk in mares to local stallions but Blain has concentrated on developing more of a fixed herd at Barton, for the benefit of their own mares and those of their regular clients. He says, “About five years ago I focused on permanent boarders in a bid to try to build up the sales consignment side. We do board in the season for some of the best French farms and we have enough land to do that, but really the focus is more on the permanent boarders.”

Among the offspring of Barton’s own mares for sale in Doncaster is one whose family has had a particularly successful association with the Premier Sale in recent years. Lot 122 is the second foal of South Bay (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), an unraced half-sister to Gale Force Ten (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), the colt who topped the sale in 2011 when selling for £280,000 before going on to win the G3 Jersey S., while Orkney Island (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) sold for £180,000 the following year.

Blain says of the daughter of Charm Spirit (Ire), “I thought this was a good Doncaster pedigree and she looks like a pure ball of speed. It’s a lovely family going back to Bianca Nera (GB), who we used to have here at the stud for many years. This is a prime Doncaster filly and I hope she’ll go down really well.”

Prices have continued to rise at Doncaster and last year’s sale saw a new record price of £380,000 for a colt by Gleneagles (Ire) from Newsells Park Stud. While the quality of yearlings on offer has evolved, many consignors and buyers still have a fixed idea of the type of horse that works best at this early-season auction famed for its precocious types.

“I’m really pleased with the horses physically,” Blain says. “Not all of them necessarily have the strongest pedigrees but they’re all good-walking, real Donny types. Everyone knows roughly what we should be taking to Doncaster, though it is changing a bit and I think Goffs UK are trying to change it for the good. We sold well last year and with the perception of Doncaster changing we are happily taking a few types that maybe we would normally have taken to Tattersalls, to see how it goes.”

Barton Stud will consign on behalf of a number of other British farms this year, including Jeffrey and Phoebe Hobby’s Brightwalton Stud, which will offer a filly by one of the freshman sires who has already made a good impression with his first yearlings at Arqana–the French-based dual Group 1 winner Shalaa (Ire). The Hobbys bought the dam of lot 177, Vesnina (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), from Cheveley Park Stud in 2015 and they have been rewarded by several nice updates, including from her first foal, the 2-year-old Nina Bailarina (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), who posted a five-length victory at Newmarket in her breeder’s colours on Aug. 9 and now has some fancy stakes entries.

“Shalaa made a great start last week [at Arqana] and Nina Bailarina is going for the Cheveley Park S. so that’s quite smart,” Blain says. “It’s a very good active family and her dam’s 2-year-old half-sister by Frankel [Melnikova] also won recently. I’m actually quite excited about her.”

Roger and Matt Coleman’s listed winner Melbourne Memories (GB) (Sleeping Indian {GB}) made quite an impression at Goffs UK three years ago when her first foal, a colt by Acclamation (GB), sold to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for £230,000, and this time her Muhaarar (GB) colt forms part of the Barton draft as lot 425. The consignment also includes the only yearling by Olympic Glory (Ire) in the sale, a colt (lot 444) who is eligible for French premiums and is out of the four-time winner Money Time (Ire) (Arch) from a family with plenty of French black-type.

Following a strong start to the European yearling sales season in Deauville, the team from Barton Stud will not be the only consignors hoping that the strong trade continues in Doncaster and on to Newmarket, where it will be well represented. Blain says, “We have 33 horses going to Tattersalls and we mostly prep them all on site. I quite like getting our own touch on them. We have four particularly good yearlings for Book 1 this year and I’m really excited about that. We then have 18 serious horses for Book 2.”

And as if that isn’t enough to keep Blain busy, he has recently been elected to the board of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA) and, at the age of 31, brings some youthful enthusiasm to the organisation as the youngest board member.

“I think they were quite keen to have someone with their hands on the pitchfork, as it were. I took a while to decide to put myself forward as I didn’t want to do it if I wasn’t going to give it 100%. I’ve now been to my first two board meetings and it’s absolutely fascinating. The TBA does so much good work–even as someone who’s been involved in the industry for a little while now I hadn’t appreciated just how much they do and what they’re putting money into, such as veterinary research,” he says. “I believe it’s really important to support the TBA, and it shouldn’t be underestimated or taken for granted because it is a very special organisation. All breeders in this country should be members and use it for support and for advice. They are there to help.”

He adds, “We all know that the industry is facing some pretty tough times. We need to stick together and we need voices at the top table shouting for us. So we need to give up some of our time to support those voices, and that’s what I am trying to do.”

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