A lifetime love of horses and years of meticulous planning have gone into Summerstorm Bloodstock, Stephen McCluskey’s new venture that made inroads when picking up four intriguing lots at the recent Tattersalls July Sale.
McCluskey, a land developer with a number of successful businesses to boot, owned and built a racing yard in Scotland (now the base of Keith Dalgleish) over 20 years ago but sold it before starting a family with wife Vicki.
He said: “We’ve always had horses and owned and built Belstane Racing Stables in the late nineties, bringing Ian Semple back to Carluke in Scotland.
“We were probably a decade ahead of our time, trying to entice owners back to Scotland to have their horses trained locally.
“We knew the top trainers in Newmarket, and knew that was the centre of the thoroughbred industry, but we wanted a Scottish base, and to put money back into the Scottish circuit.
“It was probably a step too far, in that at that time we couldn’t take the stables to the next level, and so we sold it on after five years.”
One central tenet of McCluskey’s professional life has always been the importance he has placed on looking ahead, and the burgeoning Summerstorm Bloodstock has come to fruition as a result of years of planning.
He explained: “It’s a long-term plan and I’m the sort of person who plans five to ten years in advance. I’m starting off in the sub-division and I want to work my way up to the Premier League for breeding.
“We know you’ve got to walk before you can run, but everybody started somewhere and I think we picked up some excellent buys at the sale.
“I’m a land developer and this [Summerstorm Bloodstock] is effectively my retirement plan! I’ve had various businesses which I’ve bought and sold, so I’ve been well versed in running different companies, but this is really my passion.”
The Tattersalls July Sale was deemed the obvious place to go in terms of sourcing potential broodmares and, while the breeding shed will ultimately prove the long-term plan for two of the three fillies – the other, Spinning Dreams, bought for 22,000gns, is already in foal to Juddmonte’s Expert Eye.
McCluskey is quietly hopeful that a few races and even some black type can be won with new signings before he looks further ahead.
“I picked up five at the [Tattersalls July] sale last week and we went for some lovely breeding prospects by the likes of Frankel,” he said.
“Some we’ll keep in training with Sean Woods, Iain Jardine and Jim Goldie, while we’ll develop the bloodstock side over the next few years and put them to the right stallions and take our time.
“I’ve put them with trainers who will take care of their long-term capabilities. These fillies have got potential to get some black type; if they can get that then they’ll be retired right away.”
Among the quintet of arrivals from Park Paddocks is the Newsells Park Stud-bred Act Naturally, a three-times placed daughter of Frankel and the Listed-winning Sea The Stars mare Anipa, purchased by McCluskey for 28,000gns.
It is a nick that has already produced this year’s Hampton Court Stakes scorer Mohaafeth, and McCluskey is excited for the three-year-old’s future, both on the track and eventually at stud.
He said: “She’s a small filly but is well built and tries her heart out. She’s got an excellent pedigree on both sides, she’s got Sea The Stars on her dam’s side and has Galileo and Frankel on her sire’s side.
“She’s got all the capabilities and I think Sean will find her ideal distance. I always believe that if it’s in the heart and the breeding then they’ve got it within themselves to win.”
He also bought the twice-placed Lochnaver out of the William Haggas yard, a daughter of Frankel out of US Grade 3 winner Strathnaver and the race-ready gelding Grand Canal, who scored twice for Tom Clover.
McCluskey also has dreams of eventually setting up his stud in Scotland, although much depends on family matters. It is all, however, a challenge he is facing with relish.
“Because we’ve got quite a lot of developments as far north as Inverness, where we’ve got a shellfish company, we’ve got quite a diversity in businesses but at the same time I’m not ruling anything out,” he said.
“By the time my three boys [aged 13, 16 and 17, including Christopher who is about to join the paratroopers] will be ready to leave the nest, I don’t have any solid aspirations but my ultimate ambition is to have a place in Scotland for a stud.
“We’ll set up an English and Scottish company because we’ll have both and they’ll run in conjunction with each other.”
FIRST PUBLISHED 6:12PM, JUL 17 2021