Tricks of the Trade with Sophie Buckley

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Sophie Buckley has only been pinhooking foals
to yearlings for a few years but she’s enjoying great success doing it. As the foal sales get into full swing, TDN
caught up with Sophie to try to find out her tricks of the trade. Culworth Grounds is a very diversified business,
but my side that I focus on is obviously doing the pinhooking, breeding, and we holiday quite
a few racehorses as well. I got into the pinhooking, really, I suppose
through the showing world. I love hunters and I produced quite a few
show horses, only for a hobby, but relatively successfully as an amateur. And it’s the same sort of concept really. You have to go out and you have to buy a horse
that has to fit into a category and produces to, to win essentially. So it’s a very similar kind of industry. I suppose the foals you’re thinking who you’re
trying to sell them to. I think as for pinhooking it’s sort of easier
to go for the sharper, earlier types ’cause there’s a wide range of buyers for them. And everybody’s obsessed with speed these
days. That’s not necessarily I think, a good thing,
but ’cause seeing as all the best races are over slightly longer distances, but it’s sort
of the way the market’s going. And if you’re pinhooking, you really have
to try and follow what the market wants essentially. I suppose it’s the obvious ones, but really
they’ve, they’ve got to walk. If they don’t walk, nobody, nobody wants them
essentially. Not that I think that that necessarily makes
a racehorse, but it’s definitely what makes a sales horse and you know they’ve got to
be correct and again I don’t necessarily think perfection makes the racehorse but it
definitely makes the sales horse. I’ve been really lucky for the last three
years I’ve sold a sort of six-figure horse. I had a very nice Slave Power filly that was
bought for 32,000 euros. Sold for 110. And then the following year a nice Walk ’em
On colt bought for 35 euros. Sold for a hundred, and then this year I had
another nice six figure one, which was actually bought for 4,000 euros and sold for 160. So they were the, they were the big ones and
they were great. But actually to be honest with you sometimes,
I’ve still had a few good other pinhooks maybe at the lower levels. it’s brilliant to get the great results, but
actually, you have to be consistent all the way along, and really, you don’t need, you
need all, every horse that you’re selling to keep the figures high overall. I’d love to say there’s a big, big secret. Like I’m not sure there is. I think you have to be ruthless about what
you buy. And I suppose…this is my fourth year, I
hope I’m getting better, and you refine. You know when you stand there outside that
box selling those horses, you know, you soon learn what people want to come and see and
what people don’t and it’s a very sharp learning curve and I think, that is what I try and
focus on. What is everybody after? What sells and you know, I mean at the end
of the day, no matter what the horse is by, if you’ve got a nice horse, someone will want
to buy it I think is the key. The slightly different thing I do is trot
them up and down the gallop beside my hunter. Not, every single yearling will do that and
they don’t do it every day. My big thing is, to try and keep them thinking
and keep them fresh, so they do something different every day. They all go out in the field every day, and
really we sort of just try and tailor to the horse to what they’re doing. It’s just another way to give them something
else to think about and get them out and about in the world. And it’s very similar to what they’ll do. You know, their next stage of life, they’re
going to leave me, they’re going to trot up gallops beside another horse. So, the idea is my horses, most of my yearlings
will have done that already. And so it’s just a confidence booster. I’m definitely trying to breed a lot more
of my own, the pinhooking is hard. Lots of people do it and lots of people do
it very, very well. So I’m definitely looking to expand and buy
some more mares and try and breed a few champions as well.


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