I am here courtesy of Weatherbys Hamilton, a new private-client insurance venture based on personal service and generations of expertise. Roger Weatherby – of the eponymous family business that runs the Stud Book, offers bloodstock insurance and provides many of racing’s administrative services – has joined forces with high-value insurance expert Charles Hamilton, to offer a wider bespoke service covering household and country property as well as racehorses.
After coffee in the Morning Room, Senior Rooms Steward Alan Medlock takes us on a tour of the Jockey Club’s impressive art collection, including portraits of racing legends Gimcrack and Eclipse, as well as several paintings by Stubbs. We also visit the notorious Steward’s Room, where offending jockeys used to stand trial for their misdemeanours on a square of carpet – hence the expression “on the mat”.
Later, during Mr Hamilton’s presentation I learn that a top racing stallion can earn hundreds of millions by standing at stud in his retirement. The yearlings going under the hammer today are the progeny of such elite athletes – the equine equivalent, as he put it, of Jessica Ennis having a baby with Usain Bolt. No wonder some owners choose to insure them from the very moment of purchase.
Down the road to Tattersalls then, with some trepidation, for the high-profile auction – among the consigners today are Lord Lloyd-Webber and various Sultans and Sheikhs. What if I have a must-buy moment? Or if I twitch and accidentally place a bid? With prices starting at 80,000 guineas and rising into six figures and even millions, it is an alarming prospect. (At £1.05 to a guinea, even worse than it looks.)
Leggy colts and fillies walk the ring like supermodels, all glossy manes and nonchalant looks. Their glittering pedigrees entice with the promise of sporting success (the catalogue is peppered with household names like Sea the Stars and Galileo). This is fantasy shopping at its finest, and not unlike admiring the couture shows: a license to dream and ignore the too-many noughts.
Lunch is a lavish affair overlooking the pre-parade ring, and as the wine flows freely, Mr Weatherby and his colleagues entertain us with racing anecdotes. While they wave casually at famous trainers and owners across the room, I admit to being more than a little star-struck.
When my prince comes and I get a stately and a stable full of racehorses, I know where I’ll go for insurance. In the meantime, Cinderella trots home with a smile, after a cracking winner of a day out.
For more information visit www.weatherbyshamilton.co.uk and www.jockeyclubrooms.co.uk
Words by Juanita Coulson.