North Salem, N.Y. – Sept. 15, 2019 – Champagne in one hand and a bidding paddle in the other; that’s how you will find many guests at The Ten. During the evening of Friday, Sept. 13 at Old Salem Farm, the elegant affair showcased carefully curated horses amidst a sea of tuxedos and gowns, which contained the figures of many notable individuals and families in the equine industry. Already a three-time successful event in Belgium, The Ten traveled west to host its debut transatlantic spectacle and mark the first North American installment, which was an exciting addition to the week of competition taking place on-site at the popular and prestigious American Gold Cup. As the management team of Tal Milstein, Daniel Bluman and Ilan Ferder will tell you, the event is more than simply an auction, it’s an experience for the senses featuring entertainment, charitable opportunities and cuisine – plus a few million dollars’ worth of horse talent to complete the package.
With many of show jumping’s veteran athletes and up-and-coming stars as well as enthusiasts and industry members already gathered in North Salem for CSI4* competition, Old Salem Farm proved to be the ideal host for the event’s first exposure in the U.S. Taking over the expansive indoor ring, the space was completely transformed into a sophisticated setting for the evening’s festivities and was unrecognizable as a riding arena. Dressed to the nines – or tens, rather – attendees were treated to an event resembling something one would find in Europe, and though the U.S. has yet to see more celebrations of this type, perhaps The Ten can make a foothold and bring further advancement to the American equine marketplace.
“It’s quite a test, but we are very excited and we have an incredible team lead by Tal [Milstein] doing the production of the event. I think it is one of the best in the industry, and it is an incredible experience. So far in the three editions we have had, people really have had the chance to appreciate something different,” commented Bluman. “When it comes to the organization of the event I don’t think that I know anyone better than Tal. He organizes everything as he is an incredible artist and he has a great imagination as well as ideas of how to make the best out of an event like that. When it comes to the horse part, we work together on finding the horses.”
Catalogs in hand for interested parties, the bidding began following a series of opening acts. As the night progressed, horses ranging in ages from 6 years old to 10 years old pulled in competitive bids that spoke to their excellence, with three price tags settling north of $500,000. Notably different from the European version of The Ten, the horses were slightly older and more experienced than the young prospects auctioned in Belgium as the collection was catered specifically for North American buyers.
“The process was very difficult, actually more than we had ever imagined. We travelled by car, plane and helicopter all over Europe just trying to find them. That said, it was not so difficult [to decide on the final 10 horses] since the selection is not that big at this quality,” explained Milstein. “To get 10 horses that pass our quality standard is already a big thing, so it’s not like we had 50 horses to choose from. We are choosing them by rideability and health. It’s an all-year long process. After reviewing many, many, many horses we came up with this collection. I really truly believe this is one of the best collections I have seen in any auction around.”
The clear favorite of the evening, 7-year-old gelding Cachemire De Braize, whose pedigree includes world-renowned horses such as Quality Touch, Quick Star and Jaguar Mail, started a bidding war which ultimately landed on an exceptional purchase price of $1 million, the highest bid of the night and a new record for The Ten.
“I didn’t know that it would meet the million dollar mark, but I was hoping for that, as always. I knew there were a lot of bidders on the horse – I think there were 8 bidders in the room. I thought it was going to go high, but I didn’t know how high!” reflected Ferder.
The horse boasting the next-highest price tag was the 8-year-old mare Bettina Des Celtes, who heard the gavel hit on a winning $750,000 bid. By the end of the evening, the accrued total of all the sales for the 10 advertised horses had impressively topped $4 million, a testament to their believed worth and value as sporthorses. Though they may have orchestrated the event, that did not stop the team behind it from also participating in the high-stakes fun, with some even ending the night as the official new owners of one of the equines.
“I really liked one horse and we actually bought it for one of our owners so that Erynn [Ballard] can ride it. That tells you about the horses that we really believe in them and are keeping them in the family,” said Ferder.
Though its namesake indicates that ten hand-selected equines would be sold to the highest bidders over the course of the night, this year a special eleventh horse was included in the catalog. Aptly named Fairy Tayle, the striking 9-year-old palomino mare launched the bidding as the first contestant, whose sale proceeds would be donated to Kevin Babington and his family. In recent weeks, word has spread throughout the equestrian community about the accident that involved Babington, who suffered a life-altering fall from his horse at the end of August at the Hampton Classic Horse Show.
#KevinBabingtonFundraiserTonight, FAIRY TAYLE will be auctioned for Kevin Babington's fundraiser.Maarten Huygens, Shane Sweetnam and John Brennan explain us how they came up with this wonderful project and how FAIRY TAYLE became the eleventh horse of THE TEN !See you tonight at the auction!#TheTenAuction
Posted by The Ten on Friday, September 13, 2019
“This was a pretty easy decision to make to include another horse. It is a very unfortunate case, and I think the whole horse society is shocked by this event and how your life can change in a fraction of a second. I think it is our obligation to help one of our fellows and make sure that his family is alright. If you see the amount of people that are contributing, I don’t see it as something special from our side, but I think it is an obligation for us to do that. We are going to do everything we can to collect as much money as possible for him,” noted Milstein.
An exemplary horseman and friend of the Babingtons, McLain Ward sweetened the pot by adding two days of his services, which could include lessons, horse training, “making a little money off me by hosting a clinic or having me clean stalls.” Combined with generous donations from the audience, Fairy Tayle’s sale proceeds ultimately reached $257,000, all of which will be donated to assist the Babingtons as they pay for medical expenses and adjust to a new way of life.
Following the event, Ferder echoed his business partner’s musings, saying, “I think the money we raised for Kevin [Babington] was an amazing thing for him and his family, so I was really proud of the people stepping up and doing that for him. There were a lot of people who are not friends of theirs but they just went from the heart, so I found that was very generous.”
Adding an eleventh horse is just one of the many facets of The Ten that the team of Milstein, Bluman and Ferder agree on, with the long history behind their relationship contributing to their individual and combined successes. Milstein was the original mastermind behind the event, but Bluman and Ilan have added their respective talents to the mix to make for a one-of-a-kind exhibition.
“We have worked together for many years. Tal, Ilan and I met 10 years ago, and since then we have done business, worked and drank together, so we have a very tight relationship. We know each other and our personalities and how we like to work,” said Bluman. “Tal had the vision of The Ten and when he first brought it up to Ilan and I we didn’t understand anything he was saying. Sure, we understand auctions and we are not the first one, but we never imagined that he had this in his mind. This is something else that we didn’t expect, and I am very happy that I went on for the ride.”
Looking to the future, The Ten hopes to return to the United States for another chapter. Next spring, it will once again make its return to Belgium, marking the fourth European auction. In the meantime, its efforts will live on via the performances of the 11 horses sold at Old Salem Farm, with many slated to have futures as 5* grand prix contenders. As their careers progress, their records will certainly be followed with the hope that they will materialize as the champions that they are anticipated to be.
“I am looking forward to seeing the horses. Even in Europe we have had three auctions so far, and the percentage of horses that are already doing big things is incredible, so we are really proud to be part of it,” said Ferder.
To donate to the support efforts for the Babingtons, please visit here.
For more information, please visit the-ten.com.