Horse Racing

WC Equine builds on positive beginnings

Ellie Whitaker and Tegan Clark clearly remember the empty silence after an email was sent to the industry at the launch of WC Equine.

“We had an email list of faculty members,” recalls Clark. “And we sent the same email saying we’re here, here’s what we’re doing, along with background info on what we’ve done before, and emailed 93 of them. .”

Whitaker continued the story. “We got three replies, all saying good luck! It’s about selling a product at the end of the day, and we don’t have a product to show people. We have all our social media set up but there is nothing to show for it. We just need someone to send us a horse. “

It’s the pair’s credit, though, that they’ve secured the interest of coach Roger Varian as well as Pier House Stud’s Brendan Morrin. The base at Robert Cowell’s Bottisham Heath Stud in Six Mile Bottom also has a lot to offer, allowing Whitaker and Clark to take advantage of Newmarket’s facilities without having to be in the hustle and bustle of town itself. And so with a stable and hopefully a handful of horses to arrive, WC Equine was launched.

“We started with no horses,” says Whitaker. “Then Kevin Philippart de Foy, a good friend of Tegan, sent us our first wish.

“We also worked with Brendan Morrin at Pier House Stud and I would joke with him when selling. If something good doesn’t sell, we keep asking ‘can we show it off, can we show it off?’

If you don’t ask, you won’t get it, so there’s the saying, and so it was with two crossbred fillings from the Pier House Stud that WC Equine entered the field with ease at last year’s Tattersalls Guineas Sale. Meanwhile, Varian kept his word and sent a group of young players to the pair to train first. Their gratitude is tangible but it works both ways and it’s clear that Varian has been impressed enough to send another large litter of ponies to them this season.

“I was working for Roger around the time he adjourned and he always said ‘call me when you’re set up’,” Clark said. “And so I called him to say we had a few boxes and he said, ‘I’ll definitely support you. He basically kept us going the first year – he’s been good to us, and we’ve done a few more things for him this year.

“But then I think the breezes really pushed us forward and sparked a bit of excitement.”

Of course, there’s no better place to advertise than on the public stage, and while Clark and Whitaker are respected for their ability to train in advance, their attempt to debut at last year’s Guineas Sale drew attention. greater attention to their names.

WC Equine sold two fillings on behalf of Pier House Stud, one daughter of Aclaim’s first case (GB) and another from Galileo Gold’s (GB) first case. Both found new homes but particularly impressive was Aclaim filly, who changed hands to Rabbah Bloodstock 60,000gns.

“We like her and we know she’s the better of the two,” Clark said. “You’ll get up after a gallop and think, yeah, this is cool.”

Whitaker added: “We thought she was a nice person but we went there thinking we would be happy with 30,000gns. We protected her for most of the winter. Physically, the horse is always going there but it is also meant to exercise her mind as much as anything else. “

Sent to James Tate and named Royal Aclaim (Ire), she made her smart triumphant debut against her cubs less than a month after 5f at Newcastle, where her victims never including Perfect Power (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}), then winner G1 Prix Morny and G1 Middle Park S. now around 10/1 for 2,000 Guineas and Fearby (Ire) (Havana Gold {GB}), who would go on to finish second in G3 Molecomb S.

Whitaker said: “Money is not the be-all and end-all. “It’s a bonus but it’s seeing her come out and win, and say the proof is in the pudding, we’ve basically done the job. That’s more rewarding than having some cash in your pocket. “

Fast-forward a year and WC Equine is thriving. In mid-March, the pair were broken for 60 years in batches, with a waiting list for others to join. Includes five ferocious horses expected to wave at the Tattersalls Guineas Sale in Newmarket this week.

It is the result of a deep background in business allied with an appreciation for hard work and a love of animals.

“I was two years old when my mother put me on a horse for the first time,” says Whitaker. “I hunted and organized a lot of events. I almost fell into the race.

“I was about 15 years old when I went to work for Mark Dwyer and I was there for about four years. I did the sales round for a year and then went to Roger Marley’s store [Church Farm Stables]. I joined as a mature girl, I am 18 years old and quiet in the late stages but I have learned a lot in a short period of time. I think you take a part out of everything and put it in your own. You learn a lot from people like that – and not how to do it either. Both work extremely hard. Both he and Mark went out afterwards. They will get up, go out, feed and go out.

“Roger has been very helpful to us, and Mark and Blarney [Brendan Holland of Grove Stud] will be the same. They are always there to help. It was very competitive but they were there to help and support, as well as to congratulate. “

She continued, “I was with Roger for about a year and a half and from there I went to Newmarket and went to the training ground before Godolphin on Hamilton Road, it was a completely different way of doing things. When they disbanded, I went to Charlie Appleby’s at a time when he had good horses like Cross Counter and Line Of Duty. I went to Pinatubo – it was the year of some very good 2 year olds there. You don’t always get much and you’ll be ‘wow, that’s okay’. It’s a real eye-opener.

“And then, I came here to Robert’s [Cowell]. I did two and a half years as a work driver and then launched WC”.

South Africa-born Clark also has an in-depth knowledge of racing.

“My first job in racing was with Olly Stevens and before we started here I worked at Newmarket for about four years,” she said. “I played one season with Roger Varian and then worked the rest of the time for Simon Crisford, who gave me the opportunity to go to Dubai.

“I have been very fortunate to be involved with some lovely horses. I remember riding the Thunder, who was second in the 1000 Guineas. I put her on the canter and remember thinking ‘this is another class’. Had a real class with her, she did it easily and professionally.

“Being adjourned was at Roger Varian’s house while I was there, and just to be involved with a horse like him was amazing. When I was at Simon Crisford’s, he was [G2 winner] Ostilio and [G1 miler] Dream of the century. Ostilio was on my part, I had a few spins with him, and he was a lovely horse to deal with. I’ve also done a few seasons in several horses with Richard Morgan-Evans. It was a seriously good operation, they worked very hard, and he was very willing to help and teach. ”

Whitaker and Clark today operate at Bottisham Heath out of two warehouses and a stable. They have access to many types of gallop but can also do town horses if needed.

“They would go into town to find an educational canter,” says Whitaker. “They will do three or four parts in town but they will do most of their work here. We’ve proven we can make them right here.

“We have walkers and we put our own lunge pit, which works well as an arena. We can put them in the fake stalls, which is great, and also have the opportunity to make them out. “

“It’s a good place to relax, they can relax when coming from town,” Clark adds.

“This is what we have always wanted to do. It’s pretty basic but it works. They are really hardy stables. And we rode them all by ourselves. By the time we were 15, we were pretty much doing everything ourselves – spending the morning and riding all afternoon. We now have two riders involved. So between all of us, we’ll do five or six batches each. “

This year’s draft WC Equine Guineas begins with Lot 146an early daughter of Sioux Country. By a sire that quickly rose to the top of her leaderboard, she is a half-sister to four winners, and apart from Luxie (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), a half-sister with the quick winner Mister Manannan (Ire) (Desert Style {Ire}).

A real feather on their draft cap is the presence of a Zarak (Fr) dirty. Cataloged as Lot 198she is the only daughter listed for sale by her stallion, one of the coolest young stallions in Europe, and the granddaughter of G2 winner May Hill S. Nasheej ( Swain {Ire}).

She was immediately followed by a Starsangledbanner (Aus) pony (Lot 199), is a half-brother to three winners and a member of the Doff The Derby (Derby Masters) dynasty.

The draft is rounded off by a pony from the second case of Caravaggio (Lot 227), who is closely related to G1-winning sprinter The Right Man (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), and a pony from Cracksman’s first case (GB ) (Lot 313), is a half brother to the Winner of the Panstarr List (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

“We started with seven this season but that’s dropped to five, which isn’t bad even though we’d love to have more,” Clark said.

“It keeps us really busy. If you start to expand, what you do can be diluted and we are very hands-on and we want to continue to enjoy it. Yes, we would like to expand more but certainly not beyond the 50 mark overall. We are fortunate to have a wonderful clientele who are very kind to us and very supportive. ”

Whitaker agrees. “We will feel comfortable if the ease aspect continues to expand,” she said. “We went from two to five. It was a huge leap for us but still not as much as we would have liked. ”

She added: “I think we have a good team. But you have to be realistic, you have to know what you are galloping next to. We’re driving them and that’s an advantage as we know when they’re feeling a bit down and you have to back off, or if they’re a bit new and you have to give them more. You have to manage your expectations. Everything will happen on the day and we will just have to see.”

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