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Three Chimneys

Case (left) and Robert Clay (right) of Three Chimneys Farm flank the farm's European agents Jean-Marie Callier and Ed Sackville


Three Chimneys embark on European venture

THE fragile market is still causing belts to be tightened throughout the bloodstock industry but it hasn't prevented the Kentucky-based Three Chimneys from strengthening their European presence.

Earlier this year, Robert Clay's operation appointed Ed Sackville and Jean-Marie Callier as their British and French agents, and last week further confirmed their European intentions by announcing plans to sell at this year's Tattersalls December Sale and sponsoring the 1m2f maiden on the opening day of Newmarket's July meeting, won by 66/1 shot Cotton Mill.

It will be the first time that a draft is offered in Britain by Three Chimneys, a regular top five consignor in Kentucky, but the thinking behind stepping out of familiar territory is clear, as farm president Case Clay explains:

"We've used Airlie when we've sold here before but this year we've got several top European prospects that we wanted to sell ourselves over here.

"It will be a select draft of about ten to 15 horses. We've done well buying fillies in Europe, such as Missit and Diamond Diva, and we just felt it would work for us to sell those types of horses in Europe."

The operation sold the Grade 1-placed Diamond Diva for $400,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton November Sale, but although Clay was pleased with the sale, he felt that the mare could have been more appealing at auction in Europe, another factor behind the decision to test the British market.

The Newmarket draft is likely to be a quality one, to possibly include Rockfel Stakes runner-up Missit and Rosa Grace, a Grade 2-placed daughter of Lomitas in foal to Giant's Causeway.
"The consignment will be relatively high-profile," says Sackville. "It's about quality not quantity and we're open to taking other nice prospects."

This year's Tattersalls December Sale isn't the first British auction to be targeted by US-based consignors; Four Star Sales consigned to the 2003 and 2004 Tattersalls October Sale as did Hunter Valley Farm to the 2007 Tattersalls December Sale.

Three Chimneys has been a player on the worldwide stage since they stood their first stallion, US champion Slew O'Gold, in 1985. Today, the farm stands 12 stallions, including Dynaformer and Big Brown, and has another office in Japan.

Clay also reports that the recession has yet to do little to dampen interest from European clients looking to take advantage of the farm's services.

"We are still receiving the same interest from European clients as we have ever done," he says, "and European buyers are very important to our sales. It's not all about dirt racing, especially now with the number of tracks with artificial surfaces."

He adds: "The European perception is that US stallions are expensive but actually, there are many that are affordable and those can get you a turf horse."

More immediately, there is the domestic yearling sales season to work through, starting with the ongoing Fasig-Tipton July Kentucky Yearling Sale. Three Chimneys offers eight yearlings, and Clay is cautiously optimistic.

"I feel our market is starting look a little better," he says. "I don't think we'll see the sharp drop that we did last year but having said that, there'll still be good value.

"The competition between the sale companies (Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton) has to be a good thing. Saratoga has become a little bit more European recently and was strong last year, and I think it's good that Keeneland has changed the format of their September Sale - starting the sale with two evening sessions will allow them to focus on entertainment, which has worked for Fasig-Tipton recently."






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