This week we speak with William Johnson who was born into a racing family and has continued the tradition, spectacularly. Like all businesses, even in the Thoroughbred racing & breeding industry, the efficient passing and execution of knowledge are the driving factors when it comes to success. And having a family steeped into the business is a huge plus. Johnson’s paternal great grandfather Walter bred and raced one of Australia’s greats, while his grandmother Mary descends from the family of the legendary WS Cox. With a rich family history and years of development alongside world-renowned mentors such as Hubie De Burgh, Roger Varian and David Eustace, William Johnson has built the foundation of a highly successful career in the thoroughbred industry.
In this interview, Johnson discusses his latest purchases that made WJB one of the top buyers at the recently concluded Magic Millions 2YO Horses In Training Sale.
Q: Please tell us about your purchases on the Gold Coast.
A: This was the first time I personally purchased any breeze-up 2YOs-in-training from this sale. Darby racing has previously done that. Also, this was the first time I purchased in conjunction with Darby Racing. It was fantastic to purchase three horses that will go into leading trainers in Sydney.
Q: You paid top dollar for these horses, what makes these horses special?
A: Firstly, we assessed the catalog for the right horses. The breeze is important for us to review their stride & action and how efficient they look to be moving. It's not entirely important that they're the fastest times of the day. But it's important that the horse is doing it within themselves and have a nice alert action. These three horses were then able to pass the vetting procedure and they fell in line with the budget of what we had anticipated having to pay. So, we ended up buying three very nice colts.
A: The Deep Field colt is a late November foal. It looks like he will really furnish over the next 6 to 12 months. It's not to say that he won't run as a 2YO but he looks like he will improve with a bit of maturing.
The Exceed and Excel is going to Randwick stable of Michael and Richard Friedman with the idea of trying to get him to the 2YO races.
The Kuroshio will trial in Mornington. Whether or not he runs as a 2YO will remain to be seen but every indication suggests that he should be able to get going as a 2YO.
So exciting six months ahead, in terms of seeing them either race or otherwise continue to develop and improve physically, and hopefully, they can win on the racecourse in due course.
Q: What are your own plans for the next coming sale season?
A: I'm looking forward to New Year. Magic Millions just released their catalog with over 1,200lots. So it's going to be busy December inspecting yearlings on farms through the Hunter Valley and the Southern Highlands in New South Wales, which have the majority of the horses in the catalog. Then we'll plan to go up to the Gold Coast in early January and inspect the horses that I haven't seen as well to get second and third looks with the intention of buying some nice horses with Darby racing and for our other clients. That sale will lead to the busy sales period between January and April of next year, which is fast approaching
Q: Inspecting horses on the farms s that your preferred method or is it that you want to back it up and just make sure that if the horses don't end up being shown or you have some reason that they get stuck. What's the rationale?
A: It’s lovely to see a horse develop from early December to early January. Inspecting horses also eliminates the time pressure of inspecting a lot of horses on sales day.
A number of horses are ruled out straightaway on confirmation and physical attributes. If my mind suggests that one would want to purchase them, then regardless of improvement throughout the prep, it's just a question of fine-tuning the shorter list of horses that tick the boxes in terms of pedigree confirmation and athleticism.
Upon getting to the Gold Coast you've then got time to narrow it down, whereas trying to look at 1200onhorses on the conflict, is very difficult. It's just giving yourself more time and more composure to have a good list of horses to try and buy when the sales start.
Q: Do you have any ideas in terms of how many horses you are looking to buy overall during the yearling season?
A: This year I purchased approximately 30 yearlings at the sales. So it'd be nice to secure a similar number this year, you know working on that sort of figure, you know would be fantastic. We will definitely be looking at all different price brackets. To get some further investment, which is always welcome. Hopefully, between now and the sales season a few of the yearlings we purchased this year (2020) will be racing and winning which will further ensure that people are willing to back the judgment and get involved in some horses.