“What do you do ?” I am often asked this question and usually struggle to conjure a lucid and comprehensive answer. Let’s see if I can do better with pen and paper.
My main expertise is in identifying horses of all ages and genders that are superior to their peers and most likely to outperform the standard. I think and hope that I have learned quite a bit about what works during the last 40 plus years, and learning from past mistakes is part of what one must humbly accept. There is nothing like a horse to make a fool of a man.
An outstanding record. Each and every season brings further evidence of James Delahooke’s ability to purchase top class horses at all levels — Gerald Leigh
My advertising slogan used to be YOU CAN’T BEAT EXPERIENCE. That much is true and I am confident that few if any of my contemporaries have the equal of my experience in buying, selling, breeding, raising, riding, training and loving horses.
My principal occupation is selecting yearlings for purchase at the major auction sales in U.S.A. and Europe, and potential broodmares at the breeding stock sales. I normally charge a 5% commission on the purchase price, out of which I pay my assistants and all related expenses. The only additional cost is veterinary services where these are necessary. It is sometimes said that it is in my interest for horses to cost more. Reality is that one is invariably working to a predetermined budget, and you do not stay in business for 40 plus years if you don’t find value for money for your clients. I am proud of the fact that I still buy horses for clients who started with me back in the 70s.
Stud design and management is another facet of my business, and one I greatly enjoy. I have lived and worked on stud farms in three continents, and have life-long experience of providing the optimum environment to enable bloodstock to achieve its genetic potential. I am particularly interested in soil and grassland management. Some years ago I purchased on behalf of a client a farm in Ireland which the local sages denounced as a “bog”. By applying modern drainage techniques I rapidly transformed the “bog” into a fertile and lush pasture which raised two Epsom Derby winners shortly after.
I currently consult with the owners of four private stud farms in the UK, and advise on all aspects of the management of their breeding operations, the hiring of staff, purchase of additional and/or replacement stock, and also most importantly, culling. I charge a fee for these services which is dependent on the size of the stud and the amount of time it requires.
I have had a life-long love of jump racing. And used to train and ride my own point-to-point horses. I rode 51 winners before my desire to eat overcame my desire to ride, and then enjoyed a purple patch when I owned and trained three of the best hunter-chasers in the country. They won 30 hunter chases between them in the space of five years, including the Aintree Foxhunters. So I claim some knowledge of N.H. racing and am still keen to utilise that knowledge on behalf of clients.
I hope that any new clients will call for a preliminary chat about their requirements.