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Ireland’s Joe Foley, bloodstock expert of Ballyhane Stud, believes “pinhooking” at various sales is an art, and shopping for young horses is a tricky process and a skill that comes with experience. Foley is always pouring over pedigrees and analysing the foals in front of him, looking at prospective gems.

Racing and fashion seem to be ever more linked and many are those who have noted the similarity between bloodstock sales and catwalks.

He says: “There is certainly a fashion graph for stallions, some are moving up while others are drifting down and you have to try and anticipate where they are going to be (when you attend a given sale), offers Foley in advice.

“There is an instinctive aspect to it but that is fed by studying the market, form and pedigrees. That doesn’t mean that you will always get it right, but you get a feel for it. If the first crop of yearlings of a particular sire look like they are going to be good, then you could chance buying a foal by that stallion.

“Conversely there are stallions the market is strong on and you need to work out whether they are going to continue to be that way or whether their popularity will diminish.”

Foley does point out, however, that the importance of a stallion is sometimes overplayed. Pedigree is hugely influential, and the success, or otherwise of a dam has a major role to play in his approach t purchasing foals.

“People are slightly too fixated on the stallion,” he reiterates. “You’re looking for a racehorse and if the mare hasn’t done (the business), it doesn’t matter if the foal is a beauty.

“Experience is a big help but if you study enough you’ll get to know and understand how the whole thing works. You have to make your own opinion and stick to it, don’t listen to the chit-chat at the sales or opinions in the media, you need to make up your mind for yourself!”

-Extracted from International Thoroughbred Magazine, by Aisling Crowe.