Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Today’s post is a very exciting one! Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited up North to Peel Hall Stud to meet some of the TopSpeed Thoroughbreds horses, plus some other incredible prospects and also to interview Tom and Will about the syndicate but also all things racing. This post would be ridiculously long if I put it all into one so I have decided to split it into two, the second post will go up at 7pm this evening so you don’t have too long to wait to read it! So without further ado, I’m just going to jump right in!
When we arrived at Peel Hall Stud, Will had arranged for some of the horses to be paraded on the front lawn...
All The Glory
Fame And Glory x Glorybe
4 Year Old Filly
All The Glory came 3rd when she made her debut at Ludlow back in May in a bumper and looks to be a pretty exciting prospect for those involved with her! She looked gorgeous and has enjoyed her summer holidays, she was brought in this week with the other TopSpeed horses so she could meet everyone when they have the owners open day next Saturday! She will be off back to Jonjo’s shortly to get ready for the new season.
Cityscape x Lady Azamour
4 Year Old Gelding
Urban Grit came second in his debut at Huntingdon in May in a bumper. The winner was a JP McManus owned horse called Call Of The Wind and interestingly the 3rd placed horse Starlyte for Ian Williams has since won a race, so very good form potentially to follow Urban Grit.
Another interesting point is this race was split into two and if Urban Grit was in the other side of the draw, based on time he would have won the other race. So again, another very interesting horse to be involved with. Olly seems to be impressed with him and is looking forward to having him back to start his training for his next campaign.
Arctic Cosmos x South Queen Lady
4 Year Old Gelding
He is currently unraced, however Donald McCain is looking forward to having him in training and ready to start his racing career. Will and Tom explained he has taken a little longer than some of the other horses to really settle and mature – This is not a concern and is pretty common with male horses. But he is almost ready to be sent to Donald and he should be well away once he’s there and in full training.
Telescope x La Doelenaise
4 Year Old Filly
Galaxy Dancer made her debut in March at Newcastle where she finished 10th out of 12 runners with a pretty disappointing run. Phil is going to have her back and see if they can get an improvement from her, so we will see how her journey goes!
Walk In The Storm
Walk In The Park x Mucho Macabi
4 Year Old Filly
Walk In The Storm came 2nd in her debut run at Worcester in April, beaten by Kim Bailey’s I Spy A Diva. Interestingly the 3rd placed horse Malaita for Mel Rowley has since won so again nice form coming out of this race. Ian Williams loves Walk In The Storm and thinks she could be very special.
We then seen 2 horses from the pin hooking syndicate.
First was a 2 year old filly by Westerner. She is the sister to a black type horse.
The second is a 2 year old gelding by Blue Bresil.
We then seen a couple of yearlings.
The first one we seen was a yearling by Telescope. He was born in late April and I must admit, I fell in love with him!
Next out was a lovely Mahler yearling. Again, she was lovely but she definitely had a mind of her own.
Next out was a Nathanial filly. Something I love about TopSpeed is they have options. If a horse is not performing for their owners then TopSpeed have it wrote into their terms and conditions that they will replace the horse in that syndicate. This gorgeous girl is an option for TopSpeed if they wish to replace a horse.
The final horse we seen is a very exciting one! She has been given the nickname Polly because she is the half sister to the Queen Mother Chase and Arkle Chase Put The Kettle On. She is by Valirann out of Name for Fame.
In the very near future she will be entered into a syndicate for TopSpeed – so make sure you all keep an eye out for this one because I think it will be a very quick selling syndicate. I am super excited for this one, if she can go on to be half as good as Put The Kettle On then she is going to be such an exciting horse for all of her owners.
We were then lucky enough to visit all of the horses in their boxes and as everybody knows by now I just adore animals in general so being able to meet all the horses and give them cuddles was a dream!
We were also given the opportunity to have a walk round and see some of the lovely babies that have been born this year! Surprisingly, I have never actually met horses this young before, although I get to visit stables regularly, I always meet the fully grown horses ready to run so it was so exciting to meet all the babies.
We also got the chance to meet the lovely Cara’s Way who Will now owns. He brought her from Gigginstown who had her in training with Gordon Elliott, however she never won for them. Will purchased her and sent her into training with Phil Kirby and interestingly she won her first race at Doncaster in January 2019. However next time out she finished 6th out of 8 horses so Will retired her and she now stays at Peel Hall ready to produce some gorgeous offspring. She is such a gorgeous looking horse!
It was then time to sit down and have a chat about all things racing with two very knowledgeable people within the sport.
Firstly, how did you both get into racing?
Tom: I got into racing from gambling to start off with. I enjoyed a gamble every now and then and I started to look at the horses and I actually decided to take the plunge and join a syndicate which was really good and from there it snowballed into having some of my own horses. The first time I went to the sales, I went with a current trainer who I was using at that time and said let’s go and buy one half decent horse, so I went with about £50,000 to the sales at Doncaster to buy one and we came back with four. And it’s been that way since. Then I started to buy youngsters so we knew how they’d been brought up and they didn’t have any issues and move them down to Will’s and that’s how I met Will and it’s gone on from there.
Will: We were farmers but we always had point to pointers and hunters. My Grandad had point to pointers, my dad’s mom’s dad trained so there was training on that side of the family. I was probably a typical boy really, my sister did the ponies and the only condition for me riding the ponies was that my sister mucked them out whilst I was kicking a ball around. But yeah, we always had horses here and from 16 onwards I went to point to points and went in the beer tent and had a few bets and mixing more in those circles made racing more interesting. Then when I left school I’d been playing rugby and I wasn’t getting any bigger so I said to my parents I fancy a go at race riding and they were like “you what” but my love of racing grew really. I then got into following the pedigrees and it grew and grew from there really.
For those who haven’t heard of Top Speed before, can you explain what it is you do?
Tom In simple terms, it’s a microshare syndicate. We’re trying to bring as many people into the joy of owning a horse as possible alongside both mine and Will’s ethos of we want to have quality horses. We’ve always said if you want to have a horse who runs in a class 6 around Wolverhampton then you can go and get those really easily, but what we’re trying to provide is something a bit different. We won’t go and buy horses in training, we will go and buy foals and yearlings and 3 year old unbroken horses that we think have a chance of taking members to the very top. We do 2 year syndicates so they definitely have enough time and that’s where Will’s experience with the pin hooking and my side of things with the younger horses we think we’ve got something different for people that they can see the progression right from the 3 year old national hunt horse, they can see them brought back to Peel Hall, see them get broken in, see it learn how to loose school and that whole process that most people never see and then they go to the trainer and they get to see all of that as well. They get to have the full picture. That’s why we have a pin hooking syndicate as well so people can see the other side of racing and the breeding and get involved in that too.
And what race on the flat and over jumps would you like to win with TopSpeed? If you could pick just one.
Tom: On the flat it would have to be the Derby because then you’ve got a stallion. Over jumps I’ve got two… One’s a bit weird. I’ve always wanted to win the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival just because it’s the first race and that massive roar and I guess I’d quite like – and maybe we have one in Polly – a Champion Chase horse. That would be brilliant.
Will: On the flat it would definitely be the Derby without a doubt and then over jumps – we may have to have a horse in the syndicate for quite a few years to do it but it would have to be the Grand National. Maybe it’s not applicable to TopSpeed because to win it we’d need an 8 or 9 year old really and that’s pretty long term, but that’s not saying it won’t happen but it won’t be for a few years because the oldest one we have is 4. So if you’re talking about a young horse it would probably be the Champion Bumper or the Supreme or one of he big novice hurdles at Cheltenham or Aintree or Punchestown.
When I tweeted saying I was interviewing you both I had so many questions from owners asking how the horses are, what the plans are and when they’ll be returning to their trainers so how are they all at the moment?
Will: So yeah the ones that are here have only been back in a week, Urban Grit has been in 3 weeks – he’s been cantering away slowly. He’s doing 2 and 2 which means cantering 4 furlongs one way and 4 the other. And then in-between days he’s doing some loose jumps so nothing too strenuous. Galaxy Dancer, All The Glory, Walk In The Storm and the Arctic Cosmos came back in Monday, so they’ve been on the walker and we’ll start riding them this week.
In terms of prospects for them all, Tom can fill in here too – the Arctic Cosmos we need to get him to Donald’s, hopefully we’ve ironed out his little niggles.
Tom: Urban Grit – Olly thinks he is more than capable of winning a bumper so we will be targeting a bumper and depending on how he performs in that we will either step up or he will look at going over obstacles. He’ll start his hurdling career.
Will: I think that applies for all the others as well really.
Tom: Yeah they will all start off in bumpers and then the vast majority of them will start their novice hurdling. Walk In The Storm may be a bit different, she’s already pencilled in for a listed bumper so she will probably have one bumper to get into the swing of things but then go on to a listed bumper, possibly at Huntingdon and if that goes really well then maybe we look at another top bumper or she might then go and jump some hurdles.
Will: Realistically, unless one of them is going to go for a black type bumper or one of the festivals then what is the point of keeping them in bumpers. I’d sooner get them jumping.
Tom: Yeah, second year of the syndicate they’re all 4 year olds and raced at least one other than Cosmo. Say Urban Grit wins his bumper and wins it well then we may look at a black type bumper for him but otherwise we will get them going over hurdles and have a novice campaign and hopefully they keep showing the ability they’ve got. That’ll be the fingers crossed bit hopefully.
You have both been to the sales plenty of times, so personally what do you both look for when purchasing a horse?
Will: Traditionally the first thing is the pedigree. You’ll get a catalogue come through the post, so that’s what you go with initially. Then you go around and look at them physically. I would look for an athlete then the rest of it. If I don’t think it looks like an athlete then the rest is immaterial. So always an athlete with a good temperament.
Tom: When you’ve got the sales coming up and we’re hoping to have a sales syndicate where we can hopefully include people in the buying syndicate where we can show them the process. First thing we have to do is narrow down the list. If we look at the flat sales coming up there’s book 1, 2, 3 and 4 which is what 2000 horses so it’s impossible really to go and look at all of them. So you have to go through the pedigrees, shortlist them and then look at the physical. For me, when the horse first comes out of the box in the first 5 seconds you get that gut feeling where it’s ‘oh wow’ and you seriously have a look at it. In the first 5 seconds you’ll know if you’re interested or not because they will catch your eye. Then after that it’s if it’s correct but I agree with Will that the most important thing is if it moves well, if it moves nicely you’re more willing to forgive if it’s slightly incorrect. The physical dictates if you buy it, then the pedigree dictates how much it’s worth. That’s how we look at it. Some people just look at pedigrees, others just look at the physical. But with all the horses in the syndicate they have a mixture of both.
Not every horse is a good race horse, so what makes a good race horse?
Will: Mentality. They can move fast but ultimately if they don’t want to do it or don’t have the guts or heart to do it. The mentality and temperament are crucial.
Tom: All you have to do is watch any of Aidan O’Brien’s past interviews and when he’s asked about Galileo, the first thing he always says is they’re born with the will to win. That’s why he’s been such a good stallion because his offspring are born with that temperament, they’re tough, they’re gritty and they knuckle down and give it their all. If you have a supremely talented horse that only give it now and then, in lots of ways it’s disappointing because they should win more races. And also training isn’t easy, these horses have to go through a lot in their lives to be a race horse. But so many horses will never see a race track because their mentality doesn’t allow.
Will: Yes, it’s mentality to withstand training as well.
When you sell a horse on – do you keep in touch with the new owners and keep track of the horse?
Will: We track everything really. As a breeder, when you register the foal you can register for foal tracking so when it’s named you’ll know. But I also keep in contact with the people I sell to. If you own a broodmare you want to know what’s going on so you know what to keep or sell. But also it’s just good customer relations, I want them to come back again.
Tom: Also the BHA now, whenever our horse goes to a trainer there’s a transfer of responsibility so whilst they’re here they’re on TopSpeed’s and Will’s books as we are responsible, when they go to the trainer it transfers to theirs. If we were to ever retire a horse, we have to input that information into the BHA so they are aware of where that horse is going as well as we do. A lot of horses when they retire can go onto a second career if it isn’t as a stallion or broodmare. I retired a horse who is now in a field over the back learning how to do dressage and the girl who is looking after it sent me a video of her training it where it did a little bit then put it’s head down and started eating the grass because it thought it had done enough. Equally, if one of the TopSpeed horses goes to a home and the owner falls on hard times then it will come back here and that will be one of the agreements when we’re doing the vetting so we can find them a new home.
For people who don’t know what the pin hooking syndicate is, can you explain it a little bit?
Will: Pin hooking is basically buying something and selling it on for a profit. So in our case, we buy foals to sell as 3 year old stores or some 2 year old stores. Or buy a mare out of training and sell her on in foal to something, that’s another form of pin hooking. Then on the flat we will buy foals and sell them as yearlings or 2 year olds. That is fundamentally what pin hooking is. But nothing in life when making money is that easy but we love doing it and we love trying to find these, we are looking for horses we can make a profit on but who can go on to win races.
Tom: It’s also the challenge at the sales when you need to find something that other people haven’t seen. You’re trying to find the edge where you can buy a horse for £30,000 instead of £50,000 when you think it’s a £50,000 horse.
Will: You’re trying to imagine how much of a margin is in it to see if it’s worth doing. Ultimately it can be a great pin hook if you can buy a horse for £2,000 and sell it on for £30,000 there’s good profit in that, but buying one for the £20,000 and selling it for £35,000 isn’t such a good pin hook because the cost is the same but you haven’t made as much.
Tom: It costs the same to keep a good horse as it does a bad horse. They both need the same.
Will: What I do find interesting is when you do sell a horse, it’s the following the horse and you get enjoyment whether you make money or not because you get joy as you’ve followed the horse from being a foal or a yearling to being 2 or 3 and seeing them be on a racecourse and turning out to run at Cheltenham or wherever. That’s where I get my satisfaction.
Tom: From TopSpeed’s point of view, we wanted to do it because it’s a side of racing people never get to see or think about or realise.
So I am going to leave it right there for part 1, part 2 will be up at 7pm this evening and there we discuss BBC Panorama, should jockeys face a harsher punishment for using the whip too many times, do jockeys lose count when they’re in a race, how Galileo’s death will impact the breeding side of racing, who will become Coolmore’s flagship horse now, Frankel, the O’Brien’s, the Racing League, Thoroughbid and so much more.
See you in 1 hour, set your alarms so you don’t miss it!