Thoroughbred Daily News
Speightster Speightstown - Dance Swiftly, by Danzig
WinStar Farm Versailles, KY | 2012 | Entered Stud 2017 | 2019 Fee $10,000

Market Selective At Craven Opener

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Session-topping Scat Daddy colt | Tattersalls

By Chris McGrath

NEWMARKET, UK–It was another all-or-nothing session; and once again, in what is proving a sticky round of sales for the sector, there was plenty of nothing.

But here was a colt who had it all—from the last crop of the great Scat Daddy, and prepared for the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up by the great Willie Browne. And nobody had a better idea of the stakes involved in his breeze on Monday than the man in the saddle, John Egan, who had imported Lot 71 in partnership with Robert Moss from Keeneland last September for $270,000.

It did not take long for those involved to know that those stakes, high as they were, were going to pay off. But once the bidding reached 400,000gns, it became a stand-off between just two camps: on the left of auctioneer Edmond Mahony, Jeremy Noseda standing with Amer Abdulaziz and other members of the Phoenix Thoroughbreds team; and, lurking in the stairwell opposite, Charlie Gordon-Watson. Time after time, as the pauses between each 25,000gns increment grew longer and longer, each imagined they had finally finished off the other. But each kept rebounding off the ropes: Gordon-Watson, phone to his ear, would eventually pop up again to wave a catalogue; and Noseda, on a signal from the Phoenix CEO, would essay one more brief nod. Only when Gordon-Watson went to 800,000gns—the third highest price achieved at this sale—did Abdulaziz walk away.

“He has been bought for Dr Johnny Hon and his global brand,” Gordon-Watson explained. “And he’ll be joining Ed Dunlop. I didn’t think he’d cost that much. I thought we nearly had him at 600. But I’d said the horse might cost ‘500 plus-plus-plus’, so it turned out that each ‘plus’ was another 100! But the stallion’s obviously amazing, the mare’s done well and it goes back to that good Coolmore family of Together (Ire) and Jan Vermeer (Ire). And he looks a very fast horse.”

The dam is Alegendinmyownmind (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), a daughter of Grade II winner Midnight Line (Kris S).

“It was a good price,” Egan said. “And you never really know how far they’ll go once they get to that kind of level. But listen, I think they’ve got themselves a very nice horse. He’s done everything right all the way along, and he did a very progressive breeze—just the kind I’d like to see, if I wanted to buy a breeze-up horse. I couldn’t pull him up, thought I’d end up on the Cambridge Road. I don’t want to break the clock, I want them to go on and be racehorses, and I knew this was a horse that was going to go places. You want them to enjoy themselves, as you would with a horse having its first run. I’ve been going to Keeneland the last number of years. And I’m sure I’ll be going back.”

Keeneland pinhooks have become a mainstay of this market over the last couple of years but the problems evident in the two European sales already staged this spring were again manifest at this more exalted level. True, the very next lot through the ring, a Dabirsim colt consigned by Powerstown Stud (Lot 72), was transformed from €90,000 Arqana buyback to a 250,000gns investment by Blandford Bloodstock. Moreover there is, of course, another session to follow Wednesday night. But the indices for the evening were not encouraging.

Though the session catalogue had expanded from 76 to 88, 20 withdrawals meant that exactly the same number of horses were offered as last year. Of those 66 only 38 were sold, down from 49, for an aggregate 5,222,500gns—which was 25% down on 6,955,000gns in 2017. The average held steady, down 3% from 141,939gns to 137,434gns, but the median crashed 32% from 110,000gns to 75,000gns.

Anyone would envy the touch pulled off with lot 33 by David Egan and his wife Henrietta, who turned over a More Than Ready filly—unsold at Keeneland last September at $45,000—to Katie Walsh at Greenhills Farm, and sold her here to Anthony Stroud on behalf of Godolphin for 500,000gns. But how many of us would match his modesty? “I was selling the horse beside her,” Egan shrugged. “So it was more dumb-ass luck than anything I suppose.”

That’s all very well, but that hardly explains why the daughter of a Grade I winner in Sis City (Slew City Slew) should have failed to sell at Keeneland. Sis City won the Ashland S., as well as two Grade II prizes.

“She’s just a gorgeous filly who was very well bought as a yearling, especially with her page,” said Walsh, who made such an auspicious start to her career as a consignor when producing MGSW Caspar Netscher (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) at this sale, sold for just 65,000gns, in 2011. “I’ve had her since January and she just has it, she’s a natural, very straightforward. I’m delighted for David and Hen, and also that Anthony bought her. I hope she’s very lucky.”

“John [Gosden], David [Loder] and I thought she breezed really well,” Stroud said. “She vetted well, the time was exceptional, and she’s a strong filly by a very good stallion out of a Grade I winner. Katie does a great job and we thought this was the one tonight—the bull’s eye.”

When first starting out in the game, Alex Elliott and Simon Callaghan must have dreamed of the kind of moment they shared—still with youth on their side, after all—when standing together to secure an Animal Kingdom colt for 420,000gns.

At $200,000 at Keeneland last September, Lot 32 was a brave pinhook by Tally Ho Stud but proved to be one of characteristic acuity.

“We lived together for a while out at Hollywood Park, when I was assistant to Eoin Harty,” Elliott said. “But this is the first time Simon has come over for this sale. The horse came highly recommended. He was a big turn as a yearling but he deserves his money today: his breeze was fantastic, he vetted great, he’s a beautiful horse who had a big pedigree update. His half-brother Paved (Quality Road) is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, who also have horses with Simon, became the first filly to win the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate and has added to that since with some Grade III form.”

Callaghan rates the filly as “a really nice turf horse for Del Mar for the summer onwards.”

The top lot was not the only Scat Daddy collector’s item on the night. His son, consigned as Lot 5 by Kilminfoyle House as agent, will break new ground after fetching 375,000gns from Mark Richards and Nick Columb of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“He’s the first [Scat Daddy] we’ve managed to get for Hong Kong—we’re through the glass ceiling,” said Columb. “As someone said the other day, he’s the Snitzel of the Northern Hemisphere. This looks like he’ll be a very quick horse, and he’ll suit Hong Kong conditions. And though he’s big and strong he’s still a bit immature, he’ll strengthen up. He’s only a baby, a late April foal. He showed a great action and a good attitude, and for our purposes he’s exactly what we want.”

A Scat Daddy filly meanwhile raised 240,000gns as Lot 54, having been turned round from Keeneland last year at €130,000 by Yeomanstown Stud. The winning bid was made by Chris Dwyer, acting on behalf of Sheikh Rashed bin Humain, who will send her to Bob Baffert in the U.S.

Alastair Donald is hoping lightning will strike twice with another impressive Keeneland pinhook, Lot 44, after giving 240,000gns for Grove Stud’s $72,000 Stormy Atlantic colt. Three years ago he bought a colt from the same consignor, by the same sire, for 200,000gns—and, as Stormy Antarctic (GB), he won the Craven S. up the road a year later for Ed Walker and owner P.K. Siu. He was duly acting for the same connections here.

“He’s a bit of a clone,” Donald said. “I was hoping he might slip through the net, because he didn’t breeze very well—he stumbled and he’s a big gangly horse to be going over that ground. But the consignor knows when he has a big one and he was pretty high on him.”

Donald had been outbid by Dwayne Woods for the first lot through the ring, a model pinhook to set the tone for an evening of highs and lows. There was an immediate feelgood factor—following the withdrawal of Lot 1—for Johnny Hassett of the Bloodstock Connection when Lot 2, from the first crop of Moohaajim (himself a graduate of this sale at 200,000gns in 2012) ballooned from €16,000 to 145,000gns.

“I tried to buy him twice,” Hassett said. “They bought him back [at Fairyhouse last September] because they wanted €30,000, which I didn’t have for him. But then he showed up again in the Open Sale and I got him for 16—handy money, or handier anyway. I can’t say I was thinking Craven Sale then. But every time we went to work him, he always showed up. It was kind of Darwinian, first I was thinking Goresbridge and then Guineas and then we ended up here. A nice thing about it is that my lead rider Pat McLoughlin has a piece of him.”

Woods had no doubt that the horse had evolved into an elite specimen. “Absolutely stunning,” he said. “I’ve seen every colt on the premises and in my view he’s the one you just couldn’t fault, you really couldn’t pick a hole in him. And it was a lovely breeze, low to the ground.”

 

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