Will Farish has not attended Keeneland's September yearling sale since he became the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain in 2001. But the Lane's End Farm owner is back for this year's edition of the auction, which gets under way on Monday in Lexington. He'll be on hand for the sale's two select sessions, where Lane's End has been a dominant force as a consignor.
"Things quiet down in London in August," Farish said. "I actually did the same thing last year, but I had to leave a little bit sooner. This year, I was able to stretch it out just enough so I could be at the first couple days of the sale.
"I'm thrilled to be able to be here and to see lots of friends. It's a wonderful sale--the premier sale in the world--and we've got a wonderful consignment."
Farish started his new job right before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And it's been hectic ever since, with Farish serving as a liaison between this country and its biggest ally. He's been able to attend some auctions overseas, but has found it difficult to schedule his Kentucky visits for sale time..
"I was hoping I would get back from time to time, and it has worked out that way," Farish said. "But because of the intense workload and all the changes since Sept. 11, I haven't always been able to pick my spots in terms of return visits. The select sales over here are one of the things I miss. It's been a major part of my life for 30 years."
While Farish has been in England, others on the Lane's End staff have been called on to play more prominent roles. But the farm's success at Keeneland in September has continued at a high level. Last year, Lane's End sold more than $14 million worth of horses during the select sessions, finishing ahead of all the other consignors.
"I'd rather not highlight anybody; it's been a team effort, with our farm manager Mike Cline and all of our top foremen," Farish said. "It's been a win-win situation for everybody in the organization. But it also has been a wonderful opportunity for Bill to become more active in the leadership of our farm and in many other areas of our operation."
Farish is optimistic going into this year's September auction
"I think it's going to be a strong sale," he said. "The economy has turned around, and we've seen (upswings) at the Fasig-Tipton (select) sale at Saratoga and over in Europe. I don't think there is the hesitancy or the reluctance that there was a year ago, mainly because of the overall economy and confidence in the country's leadership."