Frankel at Stud

(13 Posts)
FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 19:03:08

As the Thoroughbred breeding season gets underway on 14th February, Channel 4 sent their reporter Gina Bryce to Banstead Manor to chat with his stallion man, Rob Bowley.

You can watch the video here

grin

gailforce1 Tue 12-Feb-13 20:11:39

Thank you for the link Frankelly. I am fascinated by the change of shape he has undergone. I wonder if he will "run up" once he starts covering? Would love to see him in the flesh!

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 20:37:06

I can vouch that he is gorgeous grin There are some photos of him that I took at Newbury on my profile.

I was lucky enough to see 8 of his races on course and went to see him at Banstead Manor in December (I work in racing!)

Banstead Manor are talking about opening up the stud for tours in the summer, once the covering season is over, so it's probably worth registering for the news updates on "his" website

He's looking fantastic!
Frankelly did you see the michael portillos railway journeys last week- they did the Irish national stud.

(Tis me, under a NC :-) the blue one)smile

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 20:45:33

<taps finger to side of nose>

No I missed that sad. I went to the Irish National Stud with my college about, er, 15 years ago.

Radio 5 are doing a Frankel special on Thursday evening at 7.30pm.

Ah yes I heard that.
I'm a huge fan of the national stud in Kildare been 4 times in 2 years.
I'm rather excited to be riding out in Sussex in the morning smile
I have to say Gina came across very well, but did you notice the editing and flow. At the beginning he had his boots on, the middle he didn't, then they got put back on.

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 20:51:25

Yes, I did notice that!

I also though "tut tut Rob" when he was kneeling on the floor to do them up. I could hear my riding instructor shouting "crouch, don't kneel!" In my head grin

I worked with one of the Juddmonte stallion men a few years back, I think I saw a tiny glimpse of him when they showed all the boys out for their walk!

Yes I don't think id want a accident with Frankel!
What are you thinking of the new format? I actually have a intense dislike for fitzy, he would be in my room 101!!!

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 20:57:45

I haven't watched it as much as I'd have liked to be honest blush I luffs Claire anyway and am so glad they got rid of McCririck!

I can see why they went with Fitz, trying to create a new Francombe!

I've just found an article on Frankel (obsessed? Me?!) from the weekend's Sunday Times, I'll repost it, though it is rather long!

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 21:01:33

The Sunday Times, 10/02/2013

By David Walsh

In early November Simon Mockridge travelled in the cab of a horsebox from Banstead Manor Stud near Newmarket to a training yard in the town, Warren Place.

This yard has for more than 35 years been the workplace for Britain’s most successful trainer, the 10-time champion Sir Henry Cecil, and Mockridge had arrived to take the great racehorse Frankel back to the farm where he was born and where for the rest of his life he will have the opportunity to create a new generation of champions.

There is a lot riding on Frankel’s career as a sire but this morning at Warren Place, it isn’t just business. Racing is full of people who love horses. Relationships are formed. The animal can become their groom’s best friend, the reason they get up in the morning. That Thursday pretty much every member of Cecil’s team gathered round to see Frankel off as he was led from his box to the lorry.

“I felt terrible,” said Mockridge, who is stud manager at Banstead Manor. “I told them I felt like a child-snatcher but I didn’t look around too much because there were a lot of tears. They had this God of a horse who’d been with them for three years and a number of people had become emotionally attached to him.

“The curious thing is that it all happened so quickly; one minute he was there, at the centre of everyone’s world, and then he was taken away.”

At Banstead Manor they talk about Frankel’s first days back at the farm where he was born. Cecil warned Mockridge he wouldn’t like it at first and he didn’t.

At Warren Place, Frankel might not have been God but he was treated as if he was; first to be fed, first to be groomed and given the little perks that the greatest racehorse on the planet deserved. He liked it there, his box, the familiar faces and voices, the 20lb of corn he received each day, and he didn’t see any need for change.

“For two days he was very upset,” said Mockridge, and he took it out on the box a little bit, he kicked out, he charged the door. Then after two days here he just stopped.

“He’s intelligent. He takes everything in, he realised creating a fuss wasn’t helping him and decided, ‘This is what you want me to do, this is what I will do’. He’s a very quick learner.”

At his new home were two horses, Oasis Dream and Dansili, who have already proven themselves to be exceptional sires and Frankel could not just turn up and be boss. So when Rob Bowley brought buckets of food for Oasis Dream and Frankel on that first morning and Frankel let it be known that he was used to being served first, Rob told him to calm down and wait.

Placing Frankel’s bucket outside his stable door, Bowley brought another bucket into Oasis Dream’s box and fed him first. Then Frankel got his food and though he didn’t think much of this new order, he adapted.

What they loved about Frankel at Banstead Manor is that after two days he stopped moaning and got on with it.

The world of international bloodstock is at once highly sophisticated and wonderfully practical.

Every owner of a high class broodmare wants to choose the stallion that best suits his mare; weeks and months can be spent deciding on the right sire. Stud farms with prized stallions try to target the best mares because a sire can only be as good as the mares he covers.

So they pore over potential matings, trying to find in the stallion the one attribute their mare lacks. A forensic understanding of blood lines is needed but the rewards for getting it right are immense.

Hand in hand with the science is pragmatism. Horse trading is not an expression but a way of life. So, for example, when owner Prince Khalid Abdullah wanted to send some of his finest mares to visit the supremely successful sire Sadler’s Wells at Coolmore stud in County Tipperary almost 20 years ago, rather than pay huge stud fees, the prince agreed a foal share agreement with John Magnier, owner of Coolmore.

This meant 10 mares would be sent from Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms to be covered by Sadler’s Wells but rather than pay £200,000 for each mare, Juddmonte would share the foals with Coolmore.

Each party would independ¬ently grade the 10 foals and then, on an alternate picks basis, select their five. It meant that Coolmore had access to some of Juddmonte’s best mares and Juddmonte could get Sadler’s Wells stock without having to pay the costly nomination fee.

In 2007, Sadler’s Wells became ill and Juddmonte agreed to switch their mares to the two next best stallions on the Coolmore roster, Galileo and Montjeu, both sons of Sadler’s Wells.

“Kind was one of the mares in that batch sent over in 2007,” said Philip Mitchell, general manager at Banstead Manor, “and if I’m honest, she would probably never have visited Galileo unless she was part of that package.

“I mean, she fitted everything that was right, she was a strong mare, she had speed, she was very well bred (by Danehill out of a Rainbow Quest mare), and had all the ingredients to make a good match with Galileo.

“But if you’d had to pay the full nomination, I don’t think we would have sent her to Galileo, we probably wouldn’t have pitched her at that level at that stage.’

In 2008, Kind delivered her Galileo foal and soon the newly-born colt was impressing everyone at Banstead Manor.

“As a foal he lust did every¬thing right,” said Mitchell. “I sent a report to Prince Khalid, as did Rory Mahon who, in Ireland, would nurture and break him in.

“Teddy Grimthorpe (Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager) would have had a good look and we all listed him as number one from the group of 10. And we breathed a sigh of relief that it was our year to have first choice.”

Coolmore lost Frankel on the luck of the draw, but picked up a consolation prize. “Part of our deal with Coolmore,” said Mitchell, “was that if one party got a really good horse, the one to lose out would be entitled to 10 breeding rights.

“That seemed only fair. I mean if Coolmore had got Frankel and we didn’t have any part of Frankel, we would be feeling slightly aggrieved. Both parties agreed this was a decent way to go about it.”

At his current nomination fee of £125,000, this consolation prize is worth £1.25m per year to Coolmore.

Banstead Manor is a state-of-the-art stud farm where the stallions live in stables big enough to accommodate three horses, eat food that is the finest available and are taken for a seven-mile walk each morning. They are treated royally because they are the hub of the stud farm, around whom everything else turns, without whom the operation doesn’t work.

But what if the prospective stallion is not naturally heterosexual? Can it happen?

“It is a very good question,” said Simon Mockridge whose working life is spent among stallions.

Eleven years ago War Emblem, winner of two legs of the US Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness stakes, was syndicated to Japan for $17.7m but proved a grave disappointment in the breeding shed as he turned up his nostrils at most of the mares brought before him. From 2004 to 2012, he sired just 106 registered foals.

What if?

“No,” said Mockridge.”Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that Frankel will be okay. I have always walked the stallions on the farm, and it is not just for conditioning. It gives them a routine, a bit of discipline.

“Also they will come across mares on their walk and when Frankel heard the older stallions calling out to the mares, it didn’t take him long to show he was interested.

“He has come from a racing yard where for three years he was discouraged from expressing any interest in the opposite sex because it would be a distraction.

“But when he bawls out here, showing his interest in the mares, we tell him he’s a good boy and he thinks, ‘Oh, this is what I’m meant to do.’ I can tell you, seeing him react well to the mares is a very reassuring thing for any stud manager.”

On Thursday, which is appropriately Valentine’s Day, or Friday of this week, Frankel will begin life as a stallion by covering the first of 135 mares that he will cover this year. It is impossible to be certain how a horse will react to his first encounter with a mare in the breeding shed and for that reason, Frankel was given two trial runs with a test mare on Wednesday and Thursday.

For Mockridge, it was another piece of the jigsaw in place. “Occasionally a first-year stallion will sweat up and get a little bothered but he was very professional. He teased the mare properly, then stayed very calm both during and afterwards, one mount each time and he got the job done. Mind you, he was very keen and very vocal. Walking back to his box he made plenty of noise, no doubt telling everybody what he’d just done. He was very pleased with himself.”

But the new lad has much to do if he’s to become as efficient in the breeding shed as his Banstead stable-mate Oasis Dream.

“Some horses take to stud with great relish,” said Mockridge, and Oasis Dream is a prime example. You just haven’t got enough mates for him.

“What happens here is I will radio the stallion men to call their horse down to the shed. Rob, who looks after Oasis Dream, will tell you that when the radio goes off, the horse knows, he’s ready, he starts shouting and bawling and he wants to get down there.

“And then before you can blink he’s down there, and before you can blink again he’s done what he’s meant to do and he’s out of there.

“The ideal stallion does everything that you require and he comes back, eats his food, and doesn’t worry about it. Our stallions love what they’re doing, I know if I asked them to go back into training, they’d be more than a few dragging their feet.”

Asked about the importance of Frankel to Juddmonte and to the British bloodstock industry, general manager Mitchell strikes a cautionary note.

“However great a horse is, and Frankel was the very best, statistics tell us that only one horse in 10 is going to be successful at stud. Against that, the success of a stallion is subject to the quality of his mares and we have the most amazing book of mares that I’ve ever encountered.

“There are more than 60 who have either won a Group One race or produced a Group One winner. We have a prize possession within our ranks and there are mares coming from as far as away as Japan and America.”

Perhaps the most respected figures in world bloodstock, John Magnier, the Irish business magnate and one of the Coolmore stud owners, has long believed it is not prudent to send your best mares to an unproven sire, no matter how brilliant the career. “We’re waiting for Coolmore’s list of mares and we’re obviously going to be very interested to see what mares they want covered by Frankel,” said Mitchell.

‘But if you’re commercially minded, Frankel is a must because of the unknown quantity. I don’t say I fully understand it but he has that star quality and everyone wants a piece of it.

“It is logical to want to breed from proven stallions: that I can understand.

“On the other hand, this horse broke all the rules on the racecourse in terms of what he did and I think he can break all the rules as a stallion as well.”

FrankellyMyDearIDontGiveADamn Tue 12-Feb-13 21:02:09

Eek! "Long" was an understatement shock

Inshall have a read, will have to put down my dick francis!
No no no I love Francome smile I have a real soft spot for rogue silver foxes

That is a fantastic piece on him, really heartfelt.
I have forwarded it on to several friends thank you wink

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