IN today’s Turf Talk Time Machine – with the big CTS Emperors Palace Johannesburg Ready To Run Sale coming up – we take a look at some advice for racehorse buyers looking for the ‘’right” horse at any given auction, penned by the late Sir Mordaunt Milner in the SA Racehorse, September 1983. 

The good Sir underlines numerous contradictory elements in quotes from various experts, but also gives some good reminders of the popular “basics”.

To start, read first note below:

1) “Anyone wishing to make an ass of himself has only to issue an unqualified statement about a racehorse. The horse will take it from there.”  (Humphrey Finney).

-When you are at the sales grounds, kindly don’t try to entertain or impress colleagues and friends with your remarks about a horse, what they look like or should look like. It’s irritating, to say the least. Take a fresh cup of “Shut The Hell Up” and do just that.

Go on from there:

2) “There are three kinds of lies:  Lies, damned lies and statistics.” (Mark Twain)

-If we ignore figures and statistics, we have to rely on opinions and prejudices. Statistics can be misleading when used to substantiate a theory that is not based on a genetic or scientific truth.

3) “A  detailed study of racehorses from unraced and non-winning mares proves quite conclusively that while such a mare from a good family may produce a useful winner, even occasionally a stakes winner, the progeny are rarely of classic ability and quality.” (ES Montgomery)

-‘Good’ racemares are most definitely more likely to breed good racehorses.
– Unraced mares are more likely to breed good racehorses than mares that raced without success.
-Even mares that never won a race can breed a good racehorse.

4) “Famous racing mares are frequently poor producers for the very reasons that made them famous: they have expended so much of their nervous energy in their races that they have little left to pass on to their progeny.” (F Tesio).

-A hard-raced mare should be treated warily as a stud proposition, but in doing so one might well miss out on a really good one!
-Tesio also suggests that success may come late in the stud career of initially disappointing mares.

5) “I would rather have a filly (as a broodmare) that possibly did not show all the ability in the world, but comes from the right family. I think the family is stronger than the individual.” (John W Greathouse).

-The closer the relationship to a horse of proven racing ability, the more likelihood there is that the unsuccessful relative will also have inherited some of the qualities necessary for success on the racecourse.

6) “Many good broodmares are the daughters of sires who were not top class, either as racers or begetters of outstanding winners.” (John Hislop).

-Unexpected names do often appear in tail female in the pedigree of famous horses.

7) “There is no hard and fast rule as to which type of mare is most likely to breed high-class racehorses. Size is not of much guidance.” (John Huby).

-Out-and-out big mares do not necessarily breed the best stock.

8) “The principle requisite in a good racehorse is soundness, and again soundness and nothing but soundness.” (Count Lendorff).

-Give me a horse with a few problems, and I prefer to go from there rather than with a horse that has good clean legs and not a shred of speed!

9) “In a stallion, I look first for performance with speed, then conformation, then pedigree.  (Neil  S Macarthy)

-A mare also has to produce progeny to go through the sales ring before reaching the winning post.

10) “Looks, size, fashion and show condition weigh too heavily in general calculations. The buyer of (young horses) pays due attention to bloodlines but is too largely influenced by looks.” (John Hislop).

-I don’t care if he is a midget or a giant, the conformation geneotype that you can see is very beguiling and misleading. John Gaines said in Pacemaker that this area, in his view, had almost nothing to do with a horse’s ability to perform.

Photo by Wayne Marks (per illustration only).

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