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GEORGE SELWYN

Chasemore Farm

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“I’m more inclined to go against the market and the principal thinking. I’m a bit of a contrarian,” he says. “It’s almost painful doing the matings because we go over and over them, and chop and change things. It’s agony sometimes. I’m looking at pedigrees throughout the year. The amount of time that I put into it probably far outweighs the value I get out of it but it’s very much a hobby and part of the problem is that there never is an answer to who is the right stallion. It’s a punt, a probability play.” The gambling parlance recurs frequently in Black’s explanations of his approach to breeding and, during one particular incident two years ago, he must have felt his luck had run out. On the night of February 24, 2016, the farm’s prize mare Ceiling Kitty – the homebred Queen Mary Stakes-winning daughter of Red Clubs and the first horse Black ever owned outright, Baldovina – showed signs of foaling. Tragically, the Camelot colt she was carrying was locked in the ‘dog sitting’ position which had caused huge internal damage to the mare. With only a slim chance of saving the foal, Sells and his team at the stud set to work on cutting the unresponsive foal from the mare immediately post mortem. After six minutes of mouth-to-nose resuscitation, and with the team close to giving up hope, the colt finally gasped and came to life. “The whole thing was very traumatic. I still think about it now,” Black recalls. “I went back to the house for a while and felt sure that by the time I came back we’d have lost them both. But when I came back down at about 1am the foal was still alive. Everyone was exhausted. It was the most draining experience we’ve had on the farm.”

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CHASEMORE FARM

Andrew Black: ‘I’m a bit of a contrarian’

Mares and foal on the 330-acre Chasemore Farm, which has been developed by Andrew and Jane Black over the last ten years

By the time this story was recounted on the Saturday of Royal Ascot, it was no less tragic but had been furnished with a more uplifting second chapter. The victory of that colt, now known as Arthur Kitt, in the Chesham Stakes is by no means a happy ending but it is a happy outcome nonetheless. Despite the improbability of this orphaned foal with a twisted hind leg being able to bestow his mother with posthumous glory along the same stretch of turf on which she herself recorded her most memorable triumph, for Black it was a case of a plan coming together, albeit in rather more tragic circumstances than he had first envisaged. “I had hoped to breed something that was precocious but that had stamina. And he’s been out early but he should also have stamina. Not many horses who are bred for the Chesham are actually being aimed to run in it. That’s why I had it in mind,” he says. “People have criticised me and said that I was a bit arrogant for saying that I was trying to do this and trying to do that. But I don’t think it’s arrogant to try to do something and with Arthur Kitt, when I was

thinking about the mating, I was thinking about the Chesham, and that was in my mind when I sent the mare to Camelot. It’s amazing to have that kind of long-term plan play out. It’s good for your self-belief and it’s good for all the team at Chasemore Farm. It helps everyone here to believe in what we’re doing.” While in many ways it’s mission accomplished, Black is not the only one hoping that Arthur Kitt can go on to be a stable star for Tom Dascombe in similar vein to Brown Panther, whom he co-owned with that horse’s breeder and fellow partner in the trainer’s Manor Farm Stables, Michael Owen. He adds: “In the parade ring [at Ascot] Arthur looked strong enough but he also looks like he has plenty of development still to come so I hope that he will be progressive and gradually lay on muscle. At this point the hope is just that he stays sound and healthy. In the Chesham, he was 1,000-1 at one stage in running because he started well and then lost his position, but he then started to run on again and showed a very good attitude, which bodes well.”

THOROUGHBRED OWNER BREEDER INC PACEMAKER

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28/06/2018 14:48

Profile for Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

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