Ringfort’s Fast Track To Success

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Gay, Derek & Stephanie Veitch | Emma Berry

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DONCASTER, UK—Against a backdrop that would have been neither envisaged nor desired, the 2020 Flat may have had a hesitant start with a drastically reduced number of participants, but the wheels have at least kept turning, which in turn has allowed some sort of momentum to be continued in the sales ring.

We’ve had Royal Ascot at York, so why not the Orby Sale at Doncaster? While the transfer from Ireland to Britain of the Tattersalls Ireland September Sale, and the Goffs Sportsman’s and Orby Sales will have cost Irish vendors dear, it is an extra expense worth bearing considering the other option would have been for those sales not to have taken place at all. 

Breeder and consignor Derek Veitch is likely to look more favourably on Yorkshire than most this year as it is the county which has been the scene for three Group 2 triumphs this season for juvenile graduates of his Ringfort Stud in County Offaly. First came the triumph of Miss Amulet (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {GB}) in the Lowther S., 24 hours before Minzaal (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) landed the Gimcrack S. at York’s Ebor meeting. The following month it was the turn of Ubettabelieveit (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) to strike in the Flying Childers S. on the racecourse directly alongside the Goffs UK sales ground, the temporary host of this week’s Orby Sale.

“It’s a great leveller, the way everything is at the moment,” says Veitch at the sales ground on Monday. 

Coronavirus has not been the only upsetting element to this year for Veitch and his wife Gay, who lost their great friend and neighbour Pat Smullen a fortnight ago.

He continues, “On the racing front it has been fantastic for us and internally we are quite excited about some of those horses. We don’t think they are just this year’s horses—hopefully they are going to go forward a wee bit and that’s exciting. There are some nice, unexposed horses out there, too, from that same crop, and I think they are interesting. We’re very happy with that side of things, but life is a great leveller.”

With a reasonable number of potential buyers already in situ in Doncaster ahead of the start of what would normally be Ireland’s premier yearling sale on Wednesday, Veitch sounds a note of cautious optimism ahead of a key few weeks for the European sector. 

He says, “Everybody has been resolved to the idea that the sales have had to happen here [in the UK] and I have actually been pleasantly surprised as to how well the Ascot and Fairyhouse sales went. The [Goffs UK] Premier Sale here was okay but if you think back it was the first yearling sale and everyone was a bit sceptical about how it would go, but I think at the end of the day a drop of 30% was acceptable. It certainly has not got any worse for the last few sales.”

He adds, “There are some lovely horses here so I think it is going to be a really good test of the top end of the market and the higher tier of the commercial market.”

Veitch will know his fate relatively early at Doncaster as his three Orby yearlings all feature on the first day. He then has another nine to offer at the Tattersalls October Sale. The season started well for Ringfort Stud, which topped the relocated Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale with a daughter of Darley’s first-season sire Profitable (Ire) and was also among the top lots with Miss Amulet’s half-sister from the first crop of Yeomanstown Stud’s young son of Scat Daddy, El Kabeir. 

Profitable features again in the Ringfort drafts for Goffs and Tattersalls. At the Orby, his daughter out of the nine-time winner Emperors Pearl (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) is catalogued as lot 134.

On the subject of her sire Profitable, Veitch says, “We’ve had a few of them and they are very workmanlike, practical horses with good minds. When they go into a trainer’s yard they will come out and do their work and then go in and go back to bed. I don’t know whether they’ve any ability—we’ll only find out when they come out on the track—but they’ve all the criteria you need in a horse starting out at this stage. He has enough soldiers, enough quality in terms of the individuals, they’ve great minds and they are muscularly mature horses, which is a good thing, so I think they are practical 2-year-olds, not necessarily all 3-year-olds. He could be the Mehmas of next year. There’s nothing about the horse that puts me off.”

Ringfort Stud, as the breeder of Minzaal, has of course played its part in the success story of Tally-Ho Stud resident Mehmas, who is odds-on to be this season’s champion freshman sire. Minzaal, now owned by Sheikh Hamdan, followed his Gimcrack victory with a third-place finish in Saturday’s G1 Juddmonte Middle Park S. behind another son of Mehmas, the winner Supremacy (Ire). Minzaal’s relaxed demeanour at a blustery Rowley Mile certainly gave him the appearance of a horse who is as mentally equipped as he is physically to have a successful racing career beyond this season, and this is one of the traits which particularly endears Veitch to youngsters that come through his hands.

“There are certain parameters that I don’t like in horses but you never really know what their heads and their hearts are like until you put them under pressure in the last two furlongs at 40mph,” he says. “Reticence is the only thing I really don’t like in a horse. Give me a hardy, tough horse who wants to do his work. I think reticence gets you nowhere, either in life or as a racehorse.”

He casts his mind back to the younger days of this season’s Flying Childers winner, whom he sold to Roger Marley and John Cullinan of Church Farm & Horse Park Stud at Book 1 last year for 50,000gns.

He says, “You take Ubettabelieveit: when he gets up in the morning he has his sleeves rolled up and he wants to get out of his box. He knows he’s there for a reason, and that’s to eat, but once he’s eaten and he’s had a sleep, everything else is about being outside. That’s pretty typical of Kodiacs. You can see it in their eyes, all they want to do is get out there and work and that’s why they’re good racehorses. They have a great mental attitude to their work and that’s why they’re so practical for so many trainers. You couldn’t see that when this horse [Kodiac] retired: fourth in a Group 1, won a Group 3, good page, but he was ordinary looking when he was retiring, though now everybody sees him as premier division for what he’s done, and for upgrading his mares. And I think that’s what I’d like everybody to understand: every first-season sire has to start off somewhere but I’d like them start off with 85 mares and see them prove themselves. I don’t like to see them start off with 170 mares.”

For the Veitch family, the trio of group winners this summer followed victory in last season’s Gimcrack S. with Threat (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}), whose dam Flare Of Firelight is represented in Tattersalls October Book 1 by her Galileo Gold (GB) yearling filly.

Veitch says, “We breed a lot of winners, but they are not all headlines horses, and that’s the difference this year, we’ve had three Group 2 horses within five or six weeks. People notice that, but they don’t necessarily notice that you breed 60 winners every year—that small winner in America or Spain—but if you breed a group winner at Doncaster or York, that’s what’s noticed, and long may it last.”

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