Horse – The Belgian Mission Story of Kevin Blake

What did you do during the lockdown? Did you finally build that patio you promised to complete years ago? Have you started exercising? Or did you go looking for a broodmare after one of her sons put in an eye-catching performance on the track to find her pulling carts in Belgium and, after first learning that she was not for sale, have you finally reached an agreement for the price of a used small car? Thought not.

Famous ITV racing pundit and breeder Kevin Blake hasn’t spent his lockdowns mowing lawns and racking up 5k. Oh no, Blake’s interests culminated in finding Atalis (GB) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}), the dam of Atalis Bay (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}), after showing a great performance on her second start and it became something of a mission to hunt down the mare for the better part of a year.

However, soon after looking for the mare online he knew she would not be easy to find after being sold for just 800gns in a mixed sale at Tattersalls just six months before Atalis Bay broke out on stage.

“Just an hour later he comes back to me with, ‘Kevin, I found your mare. She’s in some kind of horse yard in Belgium, I think they might have her pulling cars or something, but they don’t want to sell her,” – Kevin Blake

“The story started with a WhatsApp message from a good friend named Michael Wilson,” Blake explains. “We work a lot together to identify horses of interest on the track using data-driven analytics. In August 2020, he flagged Atalis Bay after performing a strong number winning a maiden at Windsor for Marco Botti. He had cost just 800 gns as a yearling but had put in a Stakes class performance on Michael’s numbers and was of obvious interest.

Blake added: “It turned out that Atalis Bay itself was not for sale at this stage, but we noted that its mother Atalis had also been sold for just 800gns at Tattersalls the previous February. At the time, she was a barren 9-year-old who had produced three foals of no apparent consequence until Atalis Bay showed up.

“I didn’t know the buyer listed so I contacted blood agent Michael Kelly who is a great man at tracking horses in all sorts of places. I gave him the only details I had, the name of the mare and the buyer, let him go and wished him luck.

“Just an hour later he comes back to me with, ‘Kevin, I found your mare. She’s in some sort of riding yard in Belgium, I think they might have her pulling cars or something, but they don’t want to sell her.

Any elation that came with tracking down a mare that had seemingly drifted off the surface of the earth was short-lived. The new owners of Atalis were so enamored with her that they weren’t ready to change their minds and the project was parked.

There were heads in hands as Atalis Bay won his next two starts, but it seemed missing his mother was all for luck when he disappointed Cornwallis S.

No sooner had Blake given up on the idea of ​​bringing the Belgian workhorse back to Golden Farm in County Tipperary when Atalis Bay kicked off their 3-year campaign on a flier by winning in Nottingham, and another chase followed. is followed.

“We decided to give it one more try,” says Blake. “Michael Kelly has been sent after the Belgians again and this time he has had better news. “They will sell her, but only for big money.

“The value is in the eye of the beholder and a price was quickly agreed which was very agreeable to both parties, so she was on her way to Golden Farm.”

He added: “Michael Wilson took half of it, his first investment in a broodmare, and it didn’t take long to pay off. Atalis Bay came out a few weeks later to finish second to Winter Power (Ire) (Bungle Inthejungle {GB}) in a Listed race at York and then won the Listed Scurry S. at Sandown. It has since changed hands and joined Robert Cowell for whom it will hopefully continue to thrive in the joint venture.

“In addition to this, before buying Atalis, we had noted that Marco Botti had bought the one-year-old colt from him by Ulysses and inquiries had revealed that he liked him. He was then named Odisseo (GB) (Ulysses {Ire}) and won four times and progressed to the mark of 86 with the promise of more to come.

There will be heightened interest in Atalis Bay’s performance in the Listed Betfred Nifty Fifty Achilles S. at Haydock on Saturday (1.45) given the hard work Blake and his compadres have put in to get involved with the family.

The Belgian draft horse, as he is affectionately known at Blake’s Golden Farm, doesn’t seem to miss his old job and has settled in well in Tipperary.

Blake revealed: “Shortly after arriving in Ireland we sent Atalis to Starspangledbanner (Aus) (Choose {Aus}) and all went well she gave birth to a big strong colt a few years ago. He’s already had some fame, because I filmed a great video of him and Atalis in their stable that reached over a million people on Facebook alone.

He added: “Atalis is only 11 and a beautiful mare in every way. She is clearly a very capable producer and we can’t wait to see where she takes us. Although I’m not sure how many of cars she actually pulled, she will forever be known as the ‘Belgian Cart Horse’ here!”