Toby Coles’ racing diary: selling oneself at the sales

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  • It’s been a real week of the ups and the downs in the racing world. It began on a strong note; I had made some new friends at the sales and somehow had persuaded them, after selling a yearling colt very well, to send me their other horse that was not going to go through the ring. This other horse just happens to be a half brother to a champion. It will be an honour to train it for them.

    It seems there were some undercurrents persuading these newfound owners to send me this horse, and for that I am truly grateful. It is an amazing feeling to be sent a half brother to a truly great horse in just my first year. Please, please don’t let me bugger it up! He would not seem out of place amongst the top two-year-olds, and does wonders for the class of the Coles Racing inmates!

    How do I get noticed?

    Book One of the Tattersalls yearling sales is, to be honest, well out of my league. There were buyers not only from Europe, but all over the world present. I now know what it feels like to be a tiny little minnow in a great ocean. What could I do to get this little minnow seen?

    Well, obviously wearing the brightest, most obnoxious pair of cords possible was first on the list. Second was to try and say hello to everyone, and when I say everyone I mean everyone, from the powerhouses of the racing industry, (Miss K Rausing, and Chris Richardson from Cheveley Park Stud) to those at the roots, leading each and every yearling through the ring. It is one thing that I am not too bad at, saying hello, but it is then the next bit I struggle at: selling myself. I do not enjoy “prostituting” myself for all to see, but it has to be done.

    During the sales, each and every day seems to be the same as the next, so distinguishing between each one is rather difficult. Friday is a day that is easy to pick out as we galloped most of the yard. Littlemisssunshine, who is notoriously strong in her gallops, went well, and will probably run on the 19 October. Cotton King and Melody Belle went together for just a little blow-out, and Eastern Chariot with Main Beach went over a mile at three quarter pace, or in American language 15 seconds a furlong. It was a pleasing morning and all came home without injury.
    Who the hell gets married during the sales?

    Saturday was a great day. One of my very best friends got married; another ship sunk! It was a lovely wedding, and a great break from the day-to-day routine of the sales. But who the hell gets married during the sales?! Being an usher I think one was supposed to be rather respectable. I was far from it, leaving just after the first dance. I had to try and get home before the sun rose as Sunday was a normal day, having galloped all the horses on the Friday. On the way home I received a call from an old friend, which kept me from falling asleep at the wheel.

    Sunday was back to the sales and viewing as many horses as I possibly could before the selling began on Monday. Head down and nose to the grind stone! Melody Belle was to run at Salisbury on Monday, so to miss the traffic on the Monday morning she went down with Sammy on Sunday. Melody Belle would have had no idea what she was going to encounter, just the thought of changing hotels, something she probably would not have wanted to do, as leaving the luxury spa in Newmarket she had become accustomed to for the camp bed in a Nissan hut at Salisbury was not that comfortable!

    Monday meant a very, very early start, even for me. 2.50am is in the realms of unhealthy in anybody’s books, but it had to be done. The traffic on the M25 on a Monday morning is rather like a giant single, or in some cases a multi-story, car park!

    After riding out I rushed home to change and head for Salisbury. Melody Belle had quite enjoyed her camping trip so far, but was rather shocked when I arrived with the saddle… She was quite fresh in the parade ring and thought it rather fun to put the fear of God into her pilot by bucking as he got on. My thoughts of how she ran will remain my own, as it may be fairly difficult to print them!

    Tuesday morning was a little frustrating as Cotton King, who was declared for tomorrow, had a very slight temperature — he will not run. Most annoying as it looked a race he could have won.

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