Our BBC World Service documentary – Horses for Courses

Elegant, athletic and groomed to perfection, young thoroughbred horses are the focus for our latest radio documentary for BBC World Service. You can catch the broadcast live or online on the BBC World Service website.

Capturing action and atmosphere

Horses for Course BBC World Service

“Gorgeous and prestigious” says Naohira Goda of the thoroughbred bred horse sale.

Recording the programme involved Green Shoots spending long days at the historic Tattersalls auction site in Newmarket, Suffolk for the most prestigious sale days of the thoroughbred horse year. The Autumn Book One Yearlings and December Foal sale provided extraordinary opportunities to get close to the people and the processes involved in the sale of these internationally-coveted animals, much as it has done for all of its 250 year old history.

The horse world in one place

BBC World Service Horses for Courses - Duba businessman Hussain Lootah

“You see the horse and you feel as if you are in love”- Dubai businessman Hussain Lootah buying to add to his collection of horses he keeps as a hobby.

When the handbell rings, the selling starts. All the attention is focussed on the tension in the opera-house style ring where the auctioneer takes the bidding higher and higher.

But there is action all around with visitors from over 40 countries mingling to buy, to sell or to watch and wait for their chance to spot and snatch a potential champion. There are more than twenty voices in the final radio production of Horse for Courses on BBC World Service from countries including Ireland, Wales, Dubai, Qatar, Italy, France, Japan, Australia and Zimbabwe as well as the UK and the USA.

Remarkable soundscape

BBC World Service Green Shoots documentary Horses for Courses

French bloodstock agent Robert Nataf, has come to the sales for 40 years and believes horses are relevant in the modern world.”They keep our feet on the ground”.

Acoustically it is a fabulous experience. Accents, conversations, conjecture and explanations are captured. Hopes and hard work, anticipation and anti climax are felt. Every voice accompanied by the constant patter of bid-by-bid commentary by the team of highly experienced auctioneers. Every attribute of each gleaming horse in tip-top condition achieved by painstaking work, every long day, by stud hands and grooms.

The horses also contribute to the soundscape with whinnies and sighs and the gentle rhythm of their hoof-steps as they move from stable to parade ring to sale ring and then on, with a new owner, for the next stage in their lives.

Stablehand Lameck Mack BBC World Service documentary Horse for Courses

Stablehand Lameck Mack, originally from Zimbabwe, explains how he has dedicated his career to rearing horses.

Horses for Courses was broadcast around the world. Visit the  BBC World Service documentary webpage  to listen to our programme online or download the podcast.