ROYAL ASCOT UNCOVERED: Buying a racehorse at The Goffs London Sale
May 23, 2022
With Royal Ascot 2022 on the horizon, horseracing is top of mind for many of our Flexjet Owners, including those joining us there to enjoy the spectacular action, on and off the track. Flexjet is delighted to be the official private aviation supplier for this most prestigious of sporting events, and will be presenting the private heliport on-site, in addition to providing Red Label-style hospitality to our guests in the Royal Enclosure.
Royal Ascot is where history, high-class racing and glamour collide on hallowed British turf. Taking place from June 14 to 18, it is quite simply the greatest show in horseracing, and for those involved in racehorse ownership, having a runner at Royal Ascot is the holy grail.
On the eve of Royal Ascot, Kensington Palace, the iconic London Royal residence, provides an exquisite backdrop to what is a unique event: The Goffs London Sale. This is where you’ll find the highest calibre of thoroughbred racehorses changing hands, with the sale attended by the glitterati of the international racing world.
Through our partners at Great British Racing International we asked Will Douglass, of leading bloodstock agent Gordon-Watson Bloodstock, to give us an insider’s perspective on The London Sale and provide an insight into the elite world of racehorse ownership.
Q: What makes The London Sale such an important event for racehorse owners?
The London Sale is unique for the fact that it offers the opportunity to buy a racehorse that can carry your silks at Royal Ascot as soon as the following afternoon! There is simply no other event in the world that presents such a thrilling opportunity.
Q: What is your role for clients at the sale, and in general?
I am one half of Gordon-Watson Bloodstock, which has been at the very top of the racing and bloodstock industry for 35 years. We manage and purchase of all things relating to a client’s bloodstock interests, as well as promotion of a client’s brand within racing circles and beyond. Our clients include Royal families and high net worth individuals from all over the world.
Some of the leading lights for Royal Ascot show up each year in the London Sale catalogue, and each year it is my job to try and secure the most promising of these prospects for my clients.
My work for the London Sale starts around two weeks before the day. This is when we find out which horses will be in the sale and can start assessing them and discussing options with clients.
Q: Do you see the horses before the day of the sale?
Yes, the week before is spent inspecting all the horses which will be in the sale. I will travel to Ireland to see all the horses there, then inspect all the horses in Britain, too. Occasionally, there are some in France.
Once we have carried out inspections, we then review the horses’ veterinary reports.
Q: What happens at the sale itself?
The London Sale offers an ambience and experience unlike any other garden party. It combines an unparalleled opportunity for business and socialising over delicious food and champagne with – incredibly, for its location in the centre of London – an offering of the highest calibre of thoroughbred racehorses.
Our clients may or may not join us at the sale; if they are not there in person, we speak to them over the phone.
One of the challenges of this sale is that we don’t know who we might be bidding against, as although the “sale ring” is not very big, the grounds are large. When bidding, you can be very discreet if preferred.
The bidders come from all over the world and thus all have varying valuations of each horse, depending on the prize money on offer in the country they plan to race the horse in. It is vital we bear the horse’s eventual target races in mind when purchasing at this sale.
Q: What have been your biggest success stories at the London Sale and elsewhere?
Altogether, our team has sourced 10 Classic winners, 63 Group One winners, including World and European Champions and more than 300 Group winners.
We have bought around five horses from the London Sale since its inception in 2014.
The most notable of these was Black Beach, who we bought to race in Qatar. Before making the journey to the Middle East, he ran very respectably in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot the following day, giving his new owners the experience of a lifetime. In Qatar, he won a total of six races and over £300,000 in prize money, and was crowned champion dirt horse in 2016.
We have also purchased horses that have gone on to win in Australia and New Zealand, as well as here in Britain, demonstrating the international theme of the sale, as well as how sought-after British racehorses are around the world.
Here’s hoping we’ll have another success story to tell this time next year!
Fly to Royal Ascot, Flexjet style
In addition to flying many Owners to London for Royal Ascot on the Flexjet fleet, Flexjet can offer a seamless private helicopter transfer to the heart of the action with our sister company Halo Aviation.
Our group-operated fleet of the latest twin engine Agusta AW109 & AW169 helicopters are meticulously maintained and flown by highly experienced crew. Flights are available to and from the Flexjet Heliport at the Berkshire racecourse, from central London or other locations in the south of England.
For more details and pricing for Royal Ascot helicopter charter or further information about Flexjet’s European programmes, please contact our team using the form below or call us on +44 (0) 203 856 8151.