Thursday 8 September 2022

Insightful Yearling Preparation by Fran Eilbeck

I would like to thanks Fran Eilbeck Bloodstock for this fascinating insightful post. With over 20 years experience foaling thoroughbreds and Yearling sales preparation at Minster Stud (New Consigner) it brings to light an aspect of the horse journey we often forget but crucial to the success of not only the individual but racing industry. 

First and foremost, like many owners in racing, we enjoy living our lives with the horses. They’re an animal like no other and our home feels soulless without them. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of what the future might hold for them. He/She might be the next…or might not. That’s the beauty of it. 

I worked for Willie Carson at Minster stud for almost two decades before meeting my now FiancĂ© at a wedding up North close to home. I’d had about five years away from racing (and a baby) before deciding it was time to dip my toe back in. 

Our current ‘pinhook’ (bought as a foal to sell as a yearling) is a National Defense colt out of a sound Makfi mare named Proud and Elated (placed 7 times for Joseph O’Brien), herself a half sister to a multiple group placed, listed winner.She’s a daughter of Danceabout, the Sun Chariot stakes winner. The Colt was bought at Tattersalls foal sales in Newmarket. His pedigree page has plenty of black type but we bought him as we thought he had the makings of a great looking yearling…time will tell but we’re very happy with him so far. 

So, this time of the year is the easy part of keeping a yearling…. 

We feed the horses at 6.30am. We have decided to change the feed this year to a Saracen level grow mix. We give them a full hour to digest breakfast and then they’re turned out in one of the paddocks. I muck out before doing the school run. Both of us work, so the horses have to be done before the regular day starts. 

At 5.00pm, horses are lead back inside on head collars, I think it’s beneficial for the yearling as he gets used to human contact every day and learns a routine which will prepare him for his future. (Some yearlings are kept outside until the sales preparation starts, but because we’re not a big operation and it’s little work so we bring them in every night. The stables are 10 yards from the back door of the house, so it’s easy to keep an eye on them.) 

We check them to make sure no one is sore from playing outside (horses are always trying to injure themselves one way or another), then we pick out the hooves to make sure there are no nasties hidden underneath. 

Horses are fed again, same quantity as breakfast. They also get either a dust extracted hay or haylage portion. 

At 9.00pm we do a quick check of the horses and top up hay/haylage if necessary. 

We have a farrier visit once a month to trim feet and make sure the hooves a growing correctly. We use an ex jockey named Liam Cooper, he’s great with the young horses, very gentle with them and understanding. 

We get the vets out at this time of year to give the necessary vaccinations too. Nominations for the sales have been done at both Tattersalls and Goffs, so we await the yearling inspections from each company respectively. This involves both auction companies extensively checking the horse in question’s pedigree and visiting the yearling for a physical inspection. 

The sales preparation will start for us at the end of May if we’re heading to Goffs sales at Doncaster with him. A bit later if he’s going back to Newmarket. 

The farrier comes back and fits him with a pair of front shoes as he’s about to start quite a lot of walking which could wear or damage the hooves. 

Things start to get a bit busier for us now. Feed times and turnout times remain the same.

Light exercise is introduced. Every other day, the yearling is walked in hand for about 2miles up and down the private road to the farm. His mouth bit will be reintroduced to help control him out on these walks. On the days when we’re not walking, the yearling will be lunged around a round pen. Both of these exercises are labour intensive so we share the duties between my FiancĂ© and I. The yearling will get washed down after exercise and hot oiled each night as we get closer to the sales. This helps to get the coat looking well. A lot of brushing is done too to remove dead hair. The main is pulled to make it nice and straight along the neck line. (It’s starting to sound like a beauty pageant). 

Throughout the yearling’s life on the farm, we try and expose them to plenty of visitors. They see different animals, vehicles, people (some louder than others). They get plenty of attention, which we think helps them stay relaxed in a busy sale environment. 

A rug will be put on at night to help keep him clean and the coat looking shiny. 

By doing a sales prep, your yearling should arrive at the sales looking athletic, with a nice coat, they should be well behaved, (yeah right..…) relaxed in their surroundings but alert and you’ll have given them the best chance of showing themselves well with a walk and conformation stance. 

At the minute, our yearling looks like he’ll be better suited to Doncaster where buyers are looking for a sharper type horse. Most yearlings sold at this sale will run as two year olds. There have been some impressive graduates of the sale in recent years. Most recently Perfect Power, but Craig will tell you more about two year olds. 


  1. Great insight, very interesting. Thanks Craig and Fran.

  2. Thanks as always for the feedback Tony

  3. Excellent , it's a part of the industry that really interests me. There's so much that goes on ' from birth to racetrack '

    1. Maybe we should buy him, call him craigsbettingblog


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