13 November 2017

With the Goffs November Foal Sale just days away, ITM caught up with one pinhooker whose exacting approach has reaped notable dividends in recent years.

There can’t be too many one-woman operations able to snag a half-million quid result at the sales, but that is precisely what Edie Murray-Hayden achieved at the Goffs Orby Sale in September.

When agent Alastair Donald signed for her bay colt, Lot 364, it represented a terrific return on the €56,000 investment at the 2016 November Foal Sale. But this was not the first time that the judgment of Murray-Hayden, who manages Gormanstown Stud near Kilcullen in County Kildare, struck gold. 

“Overall I would say I have been party to about 10 to 12 pinhooks and I have had a bit of luck here and there,” she says with some understatement.

In 2008, in tandem with the late Brian Grassick, Murray-Hayden liked the look of an Oasis Dream foal at Goffs and parted with €52,000 to secure him. That horse would become Approve (IRE), winner of the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and later the Gimcrack at Group 2 York. He became a sire himself.

As if to dispel any notion this was a one-off, she repeated the feat when shelling out exactly the same amount to Tinnakill House for Sir Prancealot (IRE) in 2010. Peter and Ross Doyle were happy to spend €140,000 on the bay colt once the Gormanstown polish had been applied at the Orby the following year. He went on to win at Listed and Group 2 level on the track during his only season to race. He did even better at stud, ending up the leading freshman sire in 2016 and he continues to be prolific from his base at Tally Ho Stud.  

Then came her latest turn at Goffs at the end of September, the one worth €500,000, of which Murray-Hayden says: “He was just a really nice horse, very athletic, lovely walk. He was a bit on the raw side but I felt that he would come good and it was great that so many people liked him when it mattered. That kind of result is why you get involved. It was great but I realise as well that a lot of it is down to luck and timing. Is the sire going well? Has the horse vetted well? Is he sound and healthy? Everything has to check out at exactly the same time.”

Looking ahead to the next crop of foals to parade the paddocks of Kill, Murray-Hayden has plenty of ink on her catalogue already, but making the short trip home with a new acquisition is not a given.

“I guess I am fortunate in the sense that I don’t have to trade thoroughbreds as I am busy pre-training and with sport horses, so that reduces any sense of pressure that I have to  buy something to fill a stable, almost for the sake of it,” she explains.  

“I prefer selling at Goffs. It has been lucky for me and it is on my doorstep. I’m wary of going to sales abroad as it eliminates something going wrong on that journey when it is out of my hands,” she says.  

“I will usually only buy one, two at the very most. Very often the market is so strong that I can’t get involved for the ones I like. I only go for colts. I prefer if they are out of mares that were good on the track and don’t have too much stock on the ground,” she adds. 

“When it comes to the completing the selection process, I find that my shortlist is usually very short. The ones I like have to tick every box for me and then a bit more.

“I’m very fussy because have to live with that horse for the best of a year afterwards. I have to look at them every morning, feed them and put so much time into them so I’d better like them!” 


More News