By Kelsey Riley
Breeze-up consignors shopping at this season's yearling sales will have a new and innovative target to aim at with the news late last month that the Dubai Racing Club will host the first-ever Dubai World Cup Breeze-Up Sale in association with Goffs next Mar. 24, two days prior to Dubai World Cup day at Meydan. The sale will have a maximum 69 2-year-olds catalogued.
Horses in training are offered twice a year in Dubai through the Emirates Racing Authority Racing in Dubai sales, but the Dubai World Cup sale will be the first breeze-up sale in the Middle East, and the first sale in the region where young stock is actively recruited internationally and handpicked for the circuit.
The sale was the brainchild of Goffs Client Relations Agent Tom Taaffe, who worked with Dubai trainer Salem bin Ghadayer to get the idea off the ground.
“I raised the idea to Salem bin Ghadayer who trains in Dubai and is a close confidant to Sheikh Mohammed,” said Taaffe, who is at Keeneland this week promoting the sale. “I talked with Salem about the idea; we had maybe an hour-long chat and then we met a few evenings afterwards to discuss it. Salem presented the idea to Sheikh Rashid [bin Dalmook al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Racing Club and] nephew of Sheikh Mohammed, and His Highness embraced the idea.”
“We worked on the plan and we worked on the ethos of it and how it could be successful for everybody and His Highness thought it was a good idea, and thought we could make a statement on how to have a sale in that part of the world,” Taaffe added.
Entries for the Dubai World Cup Breeze-Up Sale will close on Dec. 1, and Taaffe said he is hopeful the selection process will be completed by early January. All horses selected for the sale will undergo a full veterinary examination prior to traveling to Dubai at the expense of the Dubai Racing Club to aid in transparency and buyer confidence.
The 2-year-olds will quarantine at Meydan for three days prior to a practice breeze day on Mar. 21, and the official breeze day-though without official times-will take place on Mar. 22. Mar. 23 will be an inspection day, with the sale taking place on Mar. 24 before an international audience in town for the Dubai World Cup.
“I traveled out a couple different times to get the logistics right,” Taaffe said. “I'm happy that's all gone very well. The Dubai Racing Club are running the sale along with Goffs, and we were honored to be chosen to partner with them. Mohammed Essa, the major general of the Dubai Racing Club, Hamad Alshamsi, the deputy general and the Events Organizing Manger Evita Correa are a particularly good team and they've been extremely courteous with their time and their help to make this a successful sale. We have a great partnership and great working relationship with them.”
“We think it's an exciting idea,” Taaffe added. “Everyone over there is excited too and they tell me they're getting great feedback from the GCC countries, and the Russians and Chechens will be there to participate, too. We're certainly getting good feedback as well, so we're positive six months out.”
Taaffe noted that the Irish pinhookers who made it to Keeneland were shopping with the Dubai Breeze-Up Sale in their minds, a sentiment echoed by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Chief Executive Officer Charles O'Neill. Taaffe said the ideal candidate for the sale would be a horse suited for the longevity of a Dubai racing career.
“We're looking for six-and-a-half furlong to a mile-and-two type horses and good, solid horses that can train for four or five seasons,” he said. “We don't need fragile horses; we need a solid block of a horse that can train for a number of years and win races and prizemoney and run over a duration. We're not looking for a Queen Mary horse; it would be our intention to not have that included. The breeze-up guys are great at what they do and they'll know what will suit.
“The horse we're talking about will have a bit of pedigree and have a good action. It has to be a good physical. Salem and Sheikh Rashid and I will make sure there are nice horses there on a broad spectrum. I want it to do well because we have much bigger plans for year two and year three to expand the sale and His Highness is very keen for that to happen if it goes right, so I'm going to make sure it goes right.”
The Dubai World Cup Breeze-Up Sale will provide a unique opportunity for horsepeople in the Gulf region to get their hands on youngstock handpicked to suit their racing programmes.
“We're going into an area of very wealthy clientele, and the whole ethos was that they've never had the opportunity to buy the raw material,” Taaffe said. “Sheikh Mohammed has decided that this is the time he'd like to make a world statement in establishing a sale and growing it as an international sale, not just for the GCC countries. It might be for the GCC countries to start, but people will begin to realize this is a serious sale with serious horses.”