Away from the high-rolling mainstream of Group One wins and priceless pedigrees, the rewards for perspicacity can, relatively, be as sweet. A week today, the value of one man's good judgement – backed up by a little luck – will be tested under the hammer in a Newmarket auction ring.
Lot 185 on the first day of the Tattersalls July sale is a five-year-old mare named Looker, carrying her first foal. Her performance record is on the moderate side of ordinary; from 14 efforts on the Flat and over hurdles she scored twice, on her debut at two, and then when she scraped home by a short-head two years ago in a 10-furlong claimer at Salisbury.
But 25 days ago her pedigree underwent a dramatic transformation. It was not too bad anyway; she is by Barathea, a thoroughly respectable sire, out of a mare whose record reads seven foals, seven runners, seven winners. And the latest of those successful is none other than Oaks heroine Look Here. In the space of two and a half minutes Looker went from being a nondescript plater to a half-sister to a Classic winner.
She is being offered from Mickley Stud in Gloucestershire, where she has been prepared on behalf of her owner Robert Biggs, a builder, handyman and racing fan from near Marlborough.
Biggs acquired Looker in February through a serendipitous set of circumstances, but had been aware of her for a while. Richard Kent, owner of Mickley Stud, takes up the tale. "He actually saw her that day when she won at Salisbury, and took rather a fancy to her," he said, "and followed her, and her family, after that."
In truth, there was not much to follow in Looker's own case. Like Look Here, she was bred by, and won for, Jockey Club senior steward Julian Richmond-Watson, and trained by Ralph Beckett. After her Salisbury success she was claimed for £10,000 and joined John Gallagher at Moreton-in-Marsh, but disappointed thereafter, hardly beating a rival in five subsequent runs.
She was scheduled to go to Doncaster sales in January, but missed her date with the auctioneer. "Apparently the diesel froze in the lorry that was supposed to be taking her that morning," said Kent, "and she didn't make it.
"Mr Biggs actually had no idea that she was up for sale. But quite by chance he discovered her afterwards on the Gallagher website and bought her unseen - apart from that day at Salisbury – for five grand, and she came straight to us."
At that point Look Here was in winter quarters as the promising winner of her only start. "In fairness to him he'd done his homework and knew about that," added Kent. "I remember he told me that she'd won well, and might win the Oaks. I hear about people's dreams all the time, and I told him yeah, and my uncle might win the Derby. But he was right, wasn't he?"
Looker is in foal to Mickley Stud's new young Danehill stallion Multiplex, a multiple winner in France from one of the good Juddmonte families. "She is an angular, scopey sort of mare," said Kent, "bigger and stronger than Look Here. And she's got the sweetest temperament. After Look Here won the Oaks, it was time to cash in, and I should think he'll do well. And good luck to him."