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Spring In The Air? Life in the market for training yards.

Seamus Durack's move to The Croft Stables in Upper Lambourn, following its purchase by one of his owners from John Hills is not just a flash in the pan says George Windsor Clive, whose firm, Windsor Clive International, negotiated the sale. The Croft Stables, with about 50 boxes, a cottage and 4 acres of strategically placed paddock land sold for a price in line with expectations, underpinning values of training yards. The purchase of Saxon House Stables, subject to Mark Usher's continuing occupancy, by Charles Egerton just before Christmas has ensured that he now controls a significant part of the training centre as it is being added to his existing ownership of Uplands. The significance of the two sales is not so much the price paid, but the reality that neither purchaser had to raise much funding from their bank. George Windsor Clive says 'We haven't negotiated a sale where the buyer has needed a commercial mortgage from a bank for over a year, indeed where bank finance has been required, sales arranged have failed to proceed.' This is not necessarily due to buyers's lack of funds, but usually because the banks being approached by buyers are looking to lend against properties with no restrictions in the title. It is very common for training yards to have restrictions on use, and many banks don't like them. In Newmarket, there are sales under negotiation, so there is every sign of the flurry of activity that started off the New Year. It is also the letting of training yards and stud farms that has kept Windsor Clive's William Harford busy this winter. Not only has there been John Hills' move to Kingwood Stud, (using Kingwood House Stables' gallops), but also Jo Hughes move to Old Manor Stables, George Baker's move from Whitsbury to Manton, and an as yet unannounced move of a Newmarket trainer. Stud farm transactions tend to be quiet during the winter, however it is the Irish market which has seen the most activity, and Windsor Clive have been active both selling and buying, in a market place where the sharp decline in values has at last come to an end. This has made Ireland and attractive proposition for foreign buyers. Land prices are significantly higher than in Britain, but to counter this, the bricks and mortar are usually included in the cost of the land. New properties coming to the market for sale this spring include the 135 acre Brinkley Stud, just 5 miles from Newmarket. With 4 houses, a stable flat, and 30 boxes in two yards, and 100 acres of 'Keepsafe' fenced paddocks, this is keenly priced