At Quantum Leap Racing, we make no secret of the fact that we target yearlings that are bred to be at their best as three-year-olds over the Classic distances, but why? Our reasoning is ideological as well as commercial.
The industry is trending towards breeding precocity and speed over longevity and stamina as this is the type of horse being sought after at the yearling sales. Owners no longer have the patience, or inclination, to pay for a horse to be trained as a two-year-old without seeing it on the racecourse. Unfortunately, this is having a negative impact on the thoroughbred as a breed. The desire for speed has resulted in fewer horses being bred to stallions that have proven themselves over staying distances, stallions which have demonstrated their durability to race for multiple seasons (not just as two-year-olds) and over further distances.
We believe that middle-distance horses are more interesting to own, being able to race for multiple seasons and with more dynamics to their races than sprinting from start to finish. We also firmly believe that the middle-distance horse is the superior athlete. Elite middle-distance horses are by no means ‘slow’ horses – they can reach top speeds and run sectionals only just shy of the top sprinters yet can sustain their speed over a race of twice the distance or more. Frankel, for example ran a 10.58s penultimate furlong in the 1m Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot – comparable to superstar sprinter Battaash’s fastest furlong in last year’s 5f Kings Stand Stakes.
It is worth noting that the Japanese racing industry has focused on breeding staying horses for the past thirty years and they are currently reaping the rewards, dominating on the international stage and plundering other jurisdictions biggest and most prestigious prizes.
But why should this compel us to invest in yearlings that require 18 months from the time of purchase to be seen at their best? To improve the viability of owning racehorses in the UK (in the absence of high levels of prizemoney), it is desirable (if not necessary) to own a horse that can be sold to other racing jurisdictions once it has proven its ability in the UK. Jurisdictions like Hong Kong, Australia and the USA are all willing to pay huge sums of money for progressive middle-distance horses in Europe because, for now, we still have the highest quality racing and breeding industries worldwide.
Should we fail in our primary objective of unearthing a Group 1 winner at the yearling sales, we often still have a progressive horse at the end of their three or four-year-old career. These are attractive prospects for foreign jurisdictions to purchase. We’ve demonstrated this with our horses on numerous occasions and this model allows our owners to recoup much of their outlay and continue to own horses year after year without breaking the bank.