Pinhook Fairytale Extends October Boom

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Session-topping lot 1451 | Tattersalls

By Chris McGrath

NEWMARKET, UK–Well, maybe these guys just don't have radios or newspapers. Maybe they haven't heard about the challenges at least affecting the domestic environment: chronic deficiencies in prizemoney, new volatility in the economic landscape. Or perhaps the international investors who might be relatively immune to such concerns have forced even the local market to new highs by putting such a squeeze into Books 1 and 2. Who knows? Just conceivably, this show of faith in our industry could yet prove the foundation for a sustainable bull run. Whatever the answer, roaring trade at the October Yearling Sale at Tattersalls spilled into the next tier down on Thursday as the opening session of Book 3 maintained breathless momentum throughout.

Once again, trade dizzily eclipsed both the surprisingly resilient trade of the equivalent session last year and the very similar yields achieved in the boom times of 2019. In fact, turnover on day one very nearly matched historic expectations for aggregate business through both sessions.

With a virtually identical offering into the ring (273 against 270), a total of 7,268,800gns changed hands for 259 sold (a hectic clearance rate of 92.5%, itself up from a robust 87.8% last year). That represents a perfectly staggering 42.7%t leap on 5,092,700gns last year, and translated to an average of 28,065gns and median of 26,000gns—respectively up 30.6% and 62.5% from 21,488gns and 16,000gns (figures that stacked up against 21,805gns and 16,000gns in 2019).

Obviously there were still moments of disappointment, for individual vendors, but overall it was tougher going for those seeking a bargain. It's their work that always makes Book 3 such an instructive spectacle, with the makes and registrations in the car park as ever confirming that those who could not afford the obvious, in Books 1 and 2, were now ready to pit their wits against those complacent in deeper pockets.

But a parallel process also occurs among the vendors, and it was apt that the day's highest price should reward a punt made deep in the basement of the foal market last winter–albeit a Goliath of a pinhook was credited to a resolutely self-effacing David.

Its subject was a Ulysses (GB) colt discovered as a foal for just 4,000gns by David Hegarty (via Galley Flash BS) at the December Sale. Returned to the same ring as Lot 1451, he catapulted his value by a factor of nearly 40 when Matt Coleman signed a docket for 150,000gns.

No doubt the colt's cause had been assisted when older brother Gwan So (GB) outran his odds for third in the Listed Flying Childers S. last month. One way or another, anyhow, the word was certainly out, with a conspicuous crowd following the colt into the ring after his short journey from the Left Yard before falling into appreciative hush as the bidding soared.

Hegarty was reluctant to break that silence afterwards, leaving it to wife Geraldine to provide some modest background to their breakthrough success.

“David works full-time at Genesis Green and I work in a school,” she explained. “We live at Genesis, at the moment this is just a hobby, but it's something we eventually want to take further. This horse has been very straightforward, he's never given us a problem: he came into prep and just blossomed. David chose him, he loves a really good-walking horse and his walk just said it all.”

The couple's diffidence was redressed by Paul Thorman of Trickledown Stud, a grateful partner in the pinhook.

“I sent David a foal who looked a bit like a corkscrew and when it came back as a yearling it was still a corkscrew, but it looked unbelievable,” Thorman said. “I thought, 'Here's this lad paying buttons for foals and turning them out brilliantly but getting nowhere.' So I said to him that we would buy a few foals together. We've been relatively lucky, but mainly because David is seriously gifted, and he and Geraldine work like you wouldn't believe.

“This particular foal was in the Trickledown draft last year and he had gone through a rough patch, didn't look at his best, but both David and [Thorman's wife] Sara could see that there was scope there.”

But this kind of dividend they had “never imagined for a millisecond.”

“He didn't have a great hock as a foal, but that just got better and better,” Thorman reflected. “Gwan So is talented, and became a bit of a talking horse, so everything worked really. He turned into the most stunning horse and his full brother and Ulysses did everything they could to help him.

“I hope it gives David the scope to buy foals that are worth buying. Sara and I were lucky when we were starting off that we had people helping us, and I loved that. It's just one of those really good stories: the pair have been trying to buy a house, so I hope this will help get them there.”

Coleman, for his part, was acting in tandem with the absent Sean Clancy, whose client Bill Mathis recently celebrated success in the G3 Sirenia S. with Eve Lodge (GB) (Ardad {Ire})–herself recruited through Coleman after breaking her maiden before Royal Ascot. This colt will join her in the care of Charlie Fellowes.

“Bill was keen to try and buy a few yearlings,” Coleman explained. “He took a share in a couple of fillies, including one in Book 1, and we were trying to find a couple of colts as well. But we found Book 2 very strong, so thought we'd keep going here. And I just thought he was the best colt I saw here, he's very athletic.”

The page is full of Cheveley Park's red, white and blue, with a dam by farm stalwart Pivotal (GB) out of Group 1 winner Regal Rose (GB) (Danehill). Obviously Ulysses complements that with his Epsom Classic bloodlines, and Coleman remarked: “This colt is a light-framed, athletic, Galileo (Ire) type, and I could see him doing well here for Charlie and then going to the States.”

New Bay Typifies the New Dawn…

Joe Foley, flanked by Federico Barberini, stoked up the embers of the session when going to six figures for one of the final lots into the ring, and then gave his authoritative testimony to the eye-watering strength of the market.

“It has just been great trade since Doncaster, the best I have seen, all the way through, in years,” he declared, after signing a 100,000gns docket for a New Bay (GB) colt [1602] presented by Baroda Stud. “There has been a huge trade all season. Trade has been so heartening, and people making money, and it bodes well for the mare and foal sales. This sale has been the cherry on the top, and it's so heartening to see. Maybe people can really see the green shoots.”

Foley, who was acting for regular patron Clipper Logistics, had known that he would have to stretch for this China Horse Club-bred colt, whose dam is a Medaglia d'Oro half-sister to the prolific Canadian racemare Raylene (Tabasco Cat) from the family of the multiple Group 1 winner Ad Valorem (Danzig).

“He was the first horse I saw in Book 3, and I thought, 'Jesus he's a good one,'” he said. “We went back to see him this morning, the two of us, and loved him. In the outside ring he was just like a cat, and there were a few shrewdies hanging out the back so we came up here to the back stairs. There's a lot to like in the family, Ad Valorem is a champion 2-year-old in there, and he's from a top-class farm.”

The icing on the cake was a sire for whom Foley has deep regard.

“I bought a colt by him on Monday,” he said. “He's doing really well, the colt was impressive in Germany last Sunday and Sheila Lavery's colt also. We admired Bayside Boy (Ire) here last year, and this one reminded us of him.”

Another admirer of the Ballylinch stallion is Foley's compatriot Mags O'Toole, who gave 72,000gns shortly afterwards for his son consigned as Lot 1610 by Garranehill Stud. This was one of several fine pinhooks on the day, having been acquired at Goffs last November for just €16,000 by Tim Bourke, but it looks as though he is expected to maintain that steep curve of progress for a while yet.

Long And Winding Road Gets Gold Paving…

Barberini, having served as lieutenant in landing the New Bay, had earlier spent nearly as much on his own account for a colt out of a cosmopolitan mare in Storybook. Foaled in the UAE, during her sire Halling's sojourn in the desert, she has divided success both as a runner and producer either side of the Atlantic, and here wrote another chapter in her peripatetic tale with a yield of 92,000gns for her Havana Gold (Ire) colt offered by Lodge Park Stud [1492]. And it augurs well for a profitable sequel that this specimen was able to satisfy a judge as discerning as Barberini.

Storybook was acquired at the Keeneland November Sale three years ago for just $50,000, despite having contributed a couple of stakes performers to a strong family. Subsequently her final Kentucky foal turned out to be the graded stakes-placed Get On The Bus (Uncle Mo), while the Declaration of War colt she was carrying on reaching Lodge Park is Chicago Soldier, who has achieved a rating of 91 in his first campaign for Johnny Murtagh.

“I went to Havana Gold because as a good physical match,” said Burns. “And I also thought that he might have a good year coming up. This is a very professional horse with a lovely temperament. I put him in Book 3 to stand out, and he did.”

Barberini could not disclose his client and no trainer will be chosen until the colt is broken in, but the odds are that he will find himself in Newmarket.

“He's a smashing horse by a sire who has done incredibly well this season,” the agent said. “He's a real 2-year-old type, a great mover with lots of athleticism. There are no certainties in this game, but the mare has already done it a few times, and the sire has done very well with his first crop: to me it made a lot of sense.

“The market has been tough all week, and the previous week too. But I think, overall, this horse is not expensive. At this price he sticks out a bit in Book 3, but he would not have been out of place in Book 2. And obviously he comes from a very good nursery.”

Dutfield Pinhool Produces Timely Harvest…

By the time they reach Book 3, prospectors tend to have to compromise on something. But the highest price of the first hour's trade, 82,000gns, was paid by Richard Brown on the premise that the Havana Grey (GB) filly presented by Harry Dutfield [1330] had all bases covered. On the one hand, the Blandford agent considered her the type to be up and running before Ascot; on the other, she is underpinned by a transparent residual value, her dam being an unraced half-sister to Showcasing (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) and Camacho (GB) (Danehill).

“She's for a client of David Simcock's who has a few mares, and the brief was to get a filly with a page,” Brown explained. “But we've been blown away looking for those the past two weeks! I'm delighted to get her, she looks a runner. We've been impressed with the Havana Greys we've seen so far, and this looks a very forward, sharp, mature filly. Obviously she's from a speedy Juddmonte family so I hope she'd be a fairly early sort.

“Harry does a superb job, he has presented her here looking amazing. I saw her again this morning at about 8 a.m. and she came out like a lion.”

Dutfield bought this filly from breeders Whitsbury Manor Stud in the same ring last December for 25,000gns, as a moonlighting project alongside his work for Hazelwood Bloodstock. And this payout could not be better timed.

“I bought my own farm two months ago, 20 acres just out by Thetford, and have bills everywhere!” he said. “I work as a stud hand, and she cost basically an annual salary for stud hand! So to come back here and do that, I am just relieved. The O'Briens are very nice people, they look after me so well: I really want to stress that, I'm so thankful to them.

“She presents herself, I just had to make sure I don't mess her up. She has a really good mind on her and has kept very fresh: I didn't lunge her this morning because she had a busy day yesterday and she came out today full of herself, ready for action.”

Brown remained active after nightfall, too, contributing to the buzz for Time Test (GB) this week when giving 72,000gns for a filly consigned by Mount Coote Stud, for a breeding partnership with Mark Dixon [1557]. She belongs to the venerable Bireme (GB) (Grundy {Ire}) family cultivated by Dixon's uncle Dick Hollingswoth.

“Gorgeous filly,” enthused Brown. “She looked amazingly sharp out there, a serious athlete, very light on her feet. I only saw her for the first time this morning, have seen her twice since, and had to get on the phone to find someone for her. And I have! She also comes from a very good farm, and that's a big part of the decision-making.”

Luke Lillingston, the worthy recipient of that compliment, has been a fan of Time Test from the outset and is already responsible for the sire's first Group 1 performer in Moyglare Stud S. third Sunset Shiraz (Ire).

Burrows Out In the Open…

One of the wonders of this market is the way it has filled a big Shadwell-shaped hole right in its middle, but there's no gainsaying the fact that the world is a very different place for the likes of Owen Burrows, who owed so much to the late Sheikh Hamdan.

Nonetheless, the Kingwood trainer is embracing the challenge of a public stable and was able to go to 77,000gns for a Dandy Man (Ire) filly consigned as Lot 1416 by her breeder Noelle Walsh's Knockananig Stud near Fermoy, Co. Cork–best known, to this point, for producing the hardy G1 Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel (Ire) (Kodi Bear{Ire}).

“I bought a couple for Sheikh Ahmed in Book 2, but we were [also] after an early, sharp type, and were outbid on four of those,” Burrows said. “We thought she fitted the bill perfectly: she looks all speed, and very strong. Hopefully, she will be an April or May 2-year-old and we can have a bit of early action.

“We've got a couple of nice horses for midsummer, that I was very pleased to get in Book 2, and then hopefully some homebreds to come, though they usually take a bit of time.”

Nonetheless Burrows has had to adjust his sights when it came to the yearling sales this time round.

“Massively,” he admitted. “Normally I'm fortunate that Angus [Gold, the Sheikh's long-serving racing manager] does all the work! There's a bit more legwork now, but I don't mind that at all, other than having to be away from the yard. I had to drive back on Tuesday night to breeze Minzaal (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) next morning and then drove straight back here. These Newmarket trainers don't know how lucky they are!”

Minzaal, a 140,000gns Book 2 graduate in 2019, lines up for the G1 QIPCO British Champions' Sprint on Saturday after an auspicious return at the same track a couple of weeks ago. He won the G2 Gimcrack S. as a juvenile and also made the podium in the G1 Middle Park S.

“I was thrilled with his comeback run and he breezed very well yesterday,” Burrows said. “There's always that worry that they can bounce, after coming back from a whole year off, and there's a full field of 20. But I think that shows what an open year it is. He should have a sporting chance.”

Elliott Lands His Ulysses…

The role of the sire in the fairytale of the day should not be forgotten, and underbidder Alex Elliott sounded more than satisfied to acquire another of his sons for a little under half the cost of the day's top lot when giving 70,000gns for Lot 1522, consigned by Churchtown House Stud.

“To be honest, I couldn't really split them physically,” the agent admitted. “But the recent update for the other one made him a bit more expensive. I think Ulysses had a lot of speed, for a Galileo out of an Oaks winner, and in the six- or seven-furlong maidens he's really starting to stand out. And they can only do better next year.

“This one will go to Grant Tuer for a new partnership, a couple of pals of mine. Grant supported me a few years ago and it's nice to give him a bit back. He's an exceptional trainer, if you look at his stats he's right up there.”

True enough: from 199 runners so far this year, Tuer has had 44 winners.

Despite the frantic competition, Elliott had managed to corral 25 yearlings through the first two books for a diverse clientele at home and abroad, and remained busy throughout this session too.

One key group, he stresses, are the traders. “They recognise that we have the best product in the world, one that people will always want,” he reasoned. “If we can get good money, then we will move them on. I think it's very important, with prizemoney the way it is, if you can get people to have that mentality, and that's why a lot of people are buying horses.

“That's not good in the long term, though, and we need to sort it out. As John Gosden and others keep saying, if this is strong when we're racing for rosettes, imagine what it could be like if we were racing for good money. They're running $120,000 maidens at Churchill Downs, and what are we running for?”

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