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Bloodstock Desk: Cherry-Downes, agent supreme, dies after a long illness aged 62.

Byline: Rachel Pagones

TOTE CHERRY-DOWNES, who managed Greenbay Stables for Charles Wacker III during the heyday of Sleepytime, Ali-Royal and Taipan, died on Saturday following a long illness. He was 62.

Born in Nottinghamshire but a longtime resident of the Newmarket area, CherryDownes began his career at Woodlands Stud, where he established a lifelong friendship with Henry Cecil.

In time he became a highly regarded bloodstock agent, working as half of a formidable team with his partner of nearly 40 years, Penny Butler. Although he represented some high-profile principals, CherryDownes conducted his business in a low-key manner, and even his friends were not aware of some of his accomplishments.

He was closely linked to Cecil during the trainer's champion reign, and indeed throughout his adult life. ``We met when we were students working at the stud together,'' said Cecil. ``He was a very close friend all through my life.

``He hadn't been well for quite some time, and he suffered a lot over the last few years. I'll miss him a lot.''

With Cecil training and Cherry-Downes the breeding adviser and racing manager, Wacker enjoyed a Group 1-winning spree in 1997 with Sleepytime and Ali-Royal, full-siblings by Royal Academy out of his mare Alidiva. Sleepytime won the 1,000 Guineas three months before her year-older brother AliRoyal wore down Starborough to take the Sussex Stakes, and a year later, their older half-brother Taipan, bred by Wacker but trained by John Dunlop for Lord Swaythling, won Group 1 events in Germany and Italy.

Cherry-Downes also managed a pair of Irish studs, Fort Union for Lord Dunraven and Barrettstown Estates for Canadian entrepreneur Garfield Weston. The latter, who made his fortune building up one of North America's largest food retail companies, bequeathed Barrettstown Castle and the adjoining land to the state of Ireland before his death in 1978.

Among the top-class horses Cherry-Downes bought were Coronation Cup winner Be My Native and Mattaboy and Cajun, who won back-toback runnings of the Middle P ark Stakes in 1980 and 1981.

He also bought 1994 Jersey Stakes winner Gneiss for Julie Cecil, former wife of Henry and another lifelong friend, and he purchased Regal Beauty in America for Jim Joel. The modestly bred mare went on to produce High Estate, who won the Coventry, Royal Lodge, Vintage and Solario Stakes for Joel, and King's Theatre, who was bred by Michael Poland after Joel dispersed his stock, and won the Racing Post Trophy and the King George.

Despite the big budgets behind him, Cherry-Downes was a natural bargain-hunter. ``If he went to a sale with 20 orders and only found 19 horses he liked, he would go home with 19 horses and one disappointed client,'' said his sister Jacko Fanshawe.

``He didn't like to spend a lot of money. The be-all and endall was buying a good horse. Once he was sent out with a big order, about $200,000, and the client was very upset when he spent only $20,000!''

Ironically, the self-effacing agent found his name in lights when he spent a then-record 3.1 million Irish guineas to buy a Shergar colt for Sheikh Mohammed at the 1984 Invitation Yearling Sale at Goffs. Sheikh Mohammed was not a regular client and the relationship ``was pretty much a one-off'', said journalist Tony Morris.

``I remember talking to Tote at the time, and he said he had one instruction, and that was, `Buy it!''' said Morris.

Although Cherry-Downes took no pride in the purchase, Authaal turned out to be the best colt from Shergar's only crop, and went on to win the Irish St Leger as well as two Australian Group 1 races, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Underwood Stakes.

CAPTION(S):

Tote Cherry-Downes with Julie Cecil at Royal Ascot in 1994 after the announcement that Gneiss had dead-heated with River Deep in the Jersey Stakes
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 3, 2005
Words:644
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