King Power Lights Up Royal Week

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Belle Josephine & her Pivotal colt | Goffs/Sarah Farnsworth

By Chris McGrath

It couldn’t happen without the auction, but that doesn’t alter the reality that for many guests at the Goffs London Sale in association with QIPCO the chance to buy a horse was pretty incidental. So even when seven of the first nine lots yesterday failed to meet their reserve, there was little consternation among those who had convened from around the racing world for this unique garden party, in a royal park on the eve of Royal Ascot. They sipped drinks in the warm sunshine, they nibbled quails’ eggs, and they admired the stoically motionless guardsmen mounted on four mighty cavalry horses. And then Alastair Donald and Ed Sackville stepped up to the plate anyway, spent £2 million on six horses, and everything in Kensington Gardens was rosy again.

At the end of the session, 13 of the 30 lots had been sold at an aggregate of £3,710,000, for an average of £285,385 and a median of £300,000. Comparisons at a boutique horses-in-training sale are obviously of limited pertinence, but for the record these figures dipped pretty steeply on last year, when 12 of 19 lots changed hands for £4,525,000 at an average of £377,083 and median of £340,000.

But Donald had played a similarly redemptive role then, and spent virtually the same sum this time round (£2,105,000, compared with £2,050,000 last year) for the same number of horses. So the concept is clearly working for someone—and that man is Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner of Leicester City F.C. A major new force on the bloodstock scene, he not only acquired four runners on the eve of the royal meeting this week, but also the sale-topping lot: a three-for-the-price-of-one package comprising the in-foal Belle Josephine (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), with a Pivotal (GB) colt at foot.

Consigned as lot 22 by Salcey Forest Stud, the 10-year-old Belle Josephine has had her profile raised this spring by her son Mildenberger (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}), runner-up in the G2 Dante S. and fancied for the G2 King Edward VII S. on Friday.

“She’s obviously by a very good stallion in Dubawi,” said Sackville. “She has Mildenberger running for her, and had a very nice colt at foot. And of course she’s in foal to Siyouni (Fr) (Pivotal {GB}), who as we saw again yesterday is becoming a very good sire. She’s a lovely-looking mare, too. The owner bought one mare last year, but we’d hope that some of the better [racing] fillies, if proving themselves on the track, will be considered for the broodmare band in future.”

‘Bright’ & ‘Brut’ Join Power Fold…

The Goffs London Sale worked equally well, for instance, for the patrons of two Yorkshire stables who came down to the capital and cashed in a pair of young horses whose promise reflects so well on their husbandry.

One of these was lot 30, Shine So Bright (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), an impressive debut scorer for Karl Burke at Nottingham only eight days previously. He had gone through the ring twice before, knocked down for 57,000gns as a foal and €27,000 as a yearling, but here rocketed to £375,000. Besides manifesting his talent on the track, the grey is backed up by a fine page as the son of GSW Alla Speranza (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}) from the excellent Lanwades family of dual G1 Champion S. winner Aloborada (GB) (Alzao).

The transaction took place too late for Srivaddhanaprabha to be able to register Shine So Bright in his King Power Racing silks for the G2 Coventry S. at Ascot today, but as Donald noted this is hopefully just the start. “He’s going to be a miler in time,” the agent said. “Karl Burke was underbidder, I think some of the owners were trying to buy another out, but I know he has a very high opinion of the colt.”

Then there was lot 10, Vintage Brut (Ire) (Dick Turpin {Ire}), homebred by Michael O’Brien and his wife Debra and sold here for £280,000. A seven-length winner of a Thirsk maiden for Tim Easterby, he earned an entry for the G2 Norfolk S. on Thursday when following up in listed company at Sandown. “He’s going to Royal Ascot as second favourite, and for the price he made—well, you could buy a lot of yearlings and still not get anything like that,” Donald reasoned. “So from that point of view it makes a lot of sense.”

“It’s a good result,” said O’Brien. “We changed our minds three times since the National S., but we set a reserve of £250,000 so we have to be very pleased. We’ve still got the mother, and a yearling half-sister by Firebreak (GB) (Charnwood Forest {Ire}), though we hope to sell her at Goffs later this year. But we’ll keep the foal, by Equiano (Fr) (Acclamation {GB}), to race: it was a very difficult birth, five and a half hours, and we thought we might lose both of them.”

SackvilleDonald Triples Down on Ascot Prospects…

Junius Brutus (Fr) (Cockney Rebel {Ire}), selling as lot 23, was presented by Con Marnane of Bansha House, who is set for another exciting Ascot after a spectacular vindication of his perseverance with Different League (Fr) (Dabirsim {Fr}) in the G3 Albany S. last year. Marnane has again put his judgement on the line with unsold stock on the track, and Junius Brutus—a €6,500 Fairyhouse yearling—brought £300,000 from Donald after winning his first two starts for Matthieu Palussiere in France.

“He was very impressive in both his races,” Donald said. “It’s obviously quite hard to assess where he fits in, but he’s a good-looking horse who’s bred to go more than five furlongs. And he has form on faster ground, which isn’t always true when they come from France.”

From the same operation, Donald gave £130,000 for No More Regrets (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) (lot 12), unsold for 38,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up but placed in both starts for Palussiere.

Donald also signed a £300,000 docket for lot 11, Main Street (GB) (Street Cry {Ire}), again with the future in mind. The 3-year-old went down by just a length in listed company when bidding for a hat-trick for John Gosden at Goodwood last time, earning an entry in the Hampton Court S. on Thursday’s card.

“He’s a good-looking, lightly raced, progressive horse who’ll definitely do a job in future,” Donald explained. “He’s a nice middle-distance type with low mileage.”

Marshall Strikes for ‘Miss’…

The highest bid of the sale, one of £950,000, proved inadequate to land Landikusic (Ire) (lot 7), a young sister to Zoffany (Ire) (Dansili {GB}) with a Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) cover. But the other broodmare in the auction, lot 13 Miss Beatrix (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), was signed for at £400,000 by Ann Marshall.

Winner of the G1 Moyglare S. and the inaugural Goffs Million in her youth, she has a Muharaar (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) cover and was presented by Ballintougher Stud on behalf of breeder Bill Durkan. “Look, she’s 14,” he shrugged. “And I have fillies out of her anyway. I hope she’s lucky for the new owners.”

‘Man’ Going the Distance…

Certainly the fifth London Sale was not exclusively about Ascot, and French stakes winner and GSP Marathon Man (GB) (So You Think {NZ}) is to be targeted at another great festival—the spring one at Melbourne—after Paul Moroney gave £380,000 for lot 20, consigned by trainer Carlos Lerner.

“We will send him to Ed Vaughan to get him ready and then run him off the plane in the Group 1 mile on Derby day,” explained Moroney. “He won’t race here before. The timing of this sale is perfect: you can get hold of a horse, back off them and bring them over. People don’t realise that Ed did a lot of the work with Fiorente (Ire) (Monsun {Ger}) before he ran second in the G1 Melbourne Cup.”

As for the large percentage of RNAs, some vendors are obviously viewing the sale as a bet-to-nothing. If an ambitious reserve is met, you win; if not, you still win, with the marquee experience of a runner at Royal Ascot. Henry Beeby, Goffs CEO, duly stressed the importance of “the ripple effect” for the company’s brand—beyond the bald figures of the auction—in establishing such a prestigious niche for this sale, staged in association with QIPCO, in just five years.

“Although the sale didn’t match last year, such are the vagaries of horses-in-training sales and we’re perfectly happy with the trade for the horses that sold,” Beeby said. “This is a unique sale in many ways in that many vendors are happy to keep their horses and go to the royal meeting. So if they get a good price they’re delighted, but they’re also content to keep the horse and see it race at Ascot.”

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