23 January 2022
Q&A with Duncan Ramage
with Duncan Ramage
11 February 2021
Story courtesy of: A Secretariat’s World Publication
We quizzed Duncan Ramage on his Karaka 2021 choices, his buying plans over the Australian yearling sales season and what he means by ‘running syndicates with a business mentality’.
Buying top-quality yearlings at Karaka is nothing less than a Dior show or the unveiling of Cartier’s new watches. The domestic and international buying bench is typically comprised of leading owners and bloodstock agents from around the world. Naturally, due to the high-value bloodstock presented at this sale, it’s full of top spenders, but one of the stand-out buying icons of Karaka 2021 is clear: Duncan Ramage.
Ramage, a bloodstock consultant for over three decades, and the erstwhile racing manager for the late Dato Tan Chin Nam was raised in England and after a decade steeped in various aspects of the racing industry. He has brokered and managed over 20 Group One winners, Australian Hall of Fame inductees and Australian Champions.
In 1991, the Iconic trainer Bart Cummings asked said to Ramage, he had a client wanting to pay A$30,000 for a yearling and asked him to find a suitable horse.
Dato Tan was the owner and the horse purchased was Capablanca, which won his first three starts and contested the Golden Slipper in 1993. The instant success helped Ramage eventually become Dato Tan’s racing manager and developed the Think Big Farm for Dato Tan, home to the development and breeding of Melbourne Cup and other Group 1 race-winning horses.
Although Dato Tan Chin Nam’s Think Big property has now been leased, the company continues to race horses and undoubtedly Ramage has his eyes on many other projects and racing strings.
Here, Ramage talks Karaka 2021, what is his style of bloodstock management and his exciting buying plans for the rest of the yearling sales season.
Q & A
Q: From the list which was a shade over 900 top quality yearlings you selected and purchased three – two colts and a filly. What was special about these yearlings?
A: We purchased a Tavistock X Zeranti colt, a So You Think X Dazzling Lady filly and a Tavistock X Ziffel colt. I purchased my first Group One winner from here in 1994 and have been going back year after year. Since we were not allowed to travel and inspect the horses, this year we have adopted a slightly different policy for seeking out qualified horses. We honed-in on successful sires and limited our purchases. We used top consultants for our research. There was also a lot of good information available online. So we were able to form a well-informed opinion. We reduced our risk. Although what we paid was dearer for Karaka standards, it was much lower than what we would have ended up paying at the Gold Coast for this stock.
Q:What are your plans for these horses?
A: They are going to leading Sydney based Conditioners. They are likely to be a mile to middle-distance horses. Although they might be seen as backend 2YOs I hope to eventually see them as top race horses like Precedence.
I bought the four time-Melbourne Cup-runner Precedence for just A$180,000 in 2006 at Karaka. His biggest wins were two Moonee Valley Cup’s but he won 10 races in total and amassed almost A$2m in prize money ending his racing career as a nine year old, so likely plenty of racing in our 2021 cohort. After such a successful career in racing, he recently won the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Precedence defeated a huge field of entries in the ‘Retraining of Racehorses In-Hand’ class. The virtual classes, judged from photographs, attracted more than 4000 entries from 83 countries.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the yearling sales?
A: The sales are getting bigger and bigger. We like to pace ourselves. We will go to the Classic sale next where I’m hoping to buy a few more horses. And then finally I will look at the Easter catalogue. Our sweet spot is in the A$100,000 to A$300,000 range. We believe in buying horses just under the very top prices.
Q: You have won nearly every major race in Australia, what is the next milestone for you? Is winning international racing one of them?
A: Racing in Australia is properly conducted, the prize money is very high and it’s very controlled. People from all of the world including the UK and the US are coming to Australia to set up a base and develop their racing interests.
Most people go to an event like the Royal Ascot for the social aspect of meeting the Queen. We run our horses with a business mentality. I don’t believe in travelling my horses unless there is an upside, either for them (as horses) or for us as owners.