Newsells emphasis on quality 'second to none' as horse racing owners get ready for auction

Many of the prospective buyers at Tattersalls Book 1 sale in Newmarket will come from the Middle East and royal families, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid

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The whinnying of excitable horses carries across the fields borne on the warm summer breeze rippling over Newsells Stud, 90 km north of London.

It is one of Britain’s and the world’s best known and most prestigious thoroughbred breeding operations with a history stretching back almost 100 years.

The owner Graham Smith-Bernal looks on with pride as some of the most valuable young bloodstock in the world frolic across 1,200 acres of bucolic pastureland.

His pleasure is evident. “There cannot be a finer sight in the world,” says Smith-Bernal who bought the stud facility two years ago.

Next week Newsells will send 32 of these most regally bred thoroughbred yearlings to the most important auction in the world for turf bred racehorses, the Tattersalls Book 1 sale in Newmarket.

Collectively this year’s consignment is expected to sell for more than £10 million.

The auction which begins on October 3, will attract leading owners, their representatives and advisors from around the world, each vying to buy the best talent on show.

It is the biggest sale in Europe where the best of the best are sent. In 2022, sales topped a record £120 million.

“In terms of success we have been the number one consigner at Tattersalls Book 1 for eight of the last nine years, including the past five,” says Smith-Bernal.

Jimmy George from Tattersalls explains why.

“Newsells are operating at the very highest level of the industry. Every year their consignment is among the highlights. They are a hugely important part of the British thoroughbred industry. Their emphasis on quality is second to none.“

Many of the prospective buyers will come from the Middle East and royal families, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, whose Godolphin racing operation is probably the best known on the planet.

“Sheikh Mohammed has and continues to be amazing for the racing industry,” Smith-Bernal continues.

“What he has done for racing is second to none. It’s incredible; not just the investment in racing but also in education, employment, and charitable work.

“What he has done for racing is second to none. It’s incredible; not just the investment in racing but also in education, the employment and charitable work.

“He, like his brother Sheikh Hamdan – who passed away two years ago - has done amazing things for the sport, as indeed have the Qataris. The Saudis are coming back into the sport and Bahrain have ambitious plans.

“Racing is a great bridge between countries and cultures."

Mark Grace is the yearling manager on whose shoulders lie a heavy responsibility with the equine prodigies in his care worth so much money.

“They are like teenagers,” he says with a laugh. “If the boys see too much of the girls or get too close there is a bit of a meltdown. They are full of beans and everyone has their own character.”

Smith-Bernal himself is a big character, an ebullient entrepreneur and businessman who has made two fortunes. The first was with the largest court reporting company in the world, the second through a cloud-based platform for managing evidence in major civil disputes, arbitrations and public inquiries.

His success and wealth opened doors to horse ownership and a passion for breeding. When the stud farm unexpectedly came up for sale in 2021, it was an opportunity he could not resist.

"Newsells Park Stud is part of the fabric of British and international horseracing,” he explains. “As an existing client, I had the pleasure of witnessing first hand the meticulous professionalism, attention to detail and service provided by [general manager] Julian Dollar and his team, both in preparing horses for racing and yearlings for the sales ring.”

He has ambitious plans not just to build on the legacy of the esteemed stud operation which was founded in 1926, but also to diversify.

Under his ownership, Newsells has already established new racing syndicates for high net worth and like-minded individuals which reflect two of his passions, Tottenham Hotspur and racing.

The first is headed by Ossie Ardiles, the famous Argentine footballer who played for the club in the 1980s alongside his compatriot Ricky Villa. Both former players are firm friends of Smith-Bernal.

The second is named after Waldlerche, Newsells prize broodmare, and the dam of Waldgeist - the winner of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

Mauricio Pochettino, the Chelsea manager, is a member.

A third is being established for 2024 and will be the Hoddle–Ardiles syndicate under Glenn Hoddle, the former Tottenham and England international. Membership of the syndicates is by invitation only and limited to 20 members, with the stud retaining a 25 per cent stake so there is a shared interest.

The stallion barn's current residents include Nathaniel, sire of Enable, and Without Parole, Frankel's St James's Palace Stakes-winning son.

The last foal of Newsells' super broodmare Shastye, a colt by Dubawi, is a particular favourite of Smith-Bernal’s. She died of a haemorrhage in May of last year shortly after the birth.

“While we were waiting for the foster mare to arrive, I sat for an hour in the paddock bottle feeding him,” he explains. “That was very special.”

Other ventures beyond breeding are to expand their renowned vineyard and the conversion of the magnificent Manor House into a venue for individuals with an interest in racing and who are used to the very best money can buy.

Located at the centre of the stud is the main mansion which Smith-Bernal plans to use as a ‘guest house’ for clients. Additionally the property is being promoted as a five star hub for discerning overseas racing enthusiasts during Royal Ascot, Goodwood, The Derby festival and other major racing events.

Updated: October 02, 2023, 2:55 AM