Haggas Draft Tops Brighter Trade

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Piranesi | Tattersalls

By

NEWMARKET, UK–It’s a conundrum of the training profession: do you serve your client better by exhausting every last ounce of a horse’s potential, or by preserving a degree of residual value when the time has come to cash out and restock?

You see exemplary operators at both ends of that spectrum, but only rarely does anyone manage to reconcile both obligations as expertly as William Haggas did with his principal draft on the second day of the Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale at Tattersalls.

Of 17 Somerville Lodge horses into the ring, three would emerge first, second and joint-fifth in the table of the sale’s top lots to date. This, to be clear, is no mean addition to their trainer’s many credits as one of the consummate practitioners of his calling.

This is the kind of thing that ensures ringside interest at this auction, regardless of the tempo of business. And it proved a session when several other trainers salvaged rather better returns for their patrons, in this most difficult of years, than on a slow opening day.

Yes, turnover was again down on the equivalent day last year, if hardly to the same extent as Monday. But the caveats mentioned then still apply: the year-on-year variability of stock, even at the best of times, at sales of this nature; and the compression of so much quality, between the Juddmonte draft and the colt that started favourite for the Derby itself, in Wednesday’s catalogue.

The session turned over 6,570,700gns, down 19% from 8,134,300gns last year. That translated into a mild decline in average, to 27,264gns from 31,286gns; though the median was well down at 12,000gns from 18,000gns. For once, the year’s strongest trend could not match a remarkable 91% clearance at the equivalent session in 2019, but remained healthy at 86%.

These indices have moved the first half of the sale much closer, in overall performance, to last year: despite a much lower aggregate, the average hitherto has closed to 22,081gns, compared with 30,154gns; and the median to 10,000gns, as against 16,000gns.

Piranesi Leads Sale at 300,000gns

Top billing among the Haggas draft went to Piranesi (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), who had dropped back to a mile at Ascot earlier in the month to win for the second time in four starts. He is bred with no ceiling, as a half-brother to G1 Racing Post Trophy winner Rivet (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) out of a Galileo (Ire) half-sister to Superstar Leo (Ire) (College Chapel {GB}), the flying filly who has gained fresh celebrity as second dam of dual G1 Prix de la Foret winner One Master (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}).

And Jane Chapple-Hyam, who signed a 300,000gns docket for the 3-year-old gelding (lot 675), felt that he has plenty of scope to keep developing with maturity. “I’m just the caretaker trainer,” she said. “He’ll be off abroad, but I can’t say where yet. He’s for an overseas client, we work together, and we felt he was a good-looking horse who liked the distance the other day and hopefully there’s more improvement in him.”

Since himself leaving Haggas, sibling Rivet has been campaigned in Hong Kong and Australia and it may yet prove significant that Chapple-Hyam has good connections in both locations. But there was no guesswork required about the destination of stakes-placed 4-year-old Desert Icon (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and 84-rated 3-year-old Born A King (GB) (Frankel {GB}), for whom John Ferguson gave 210,000gns and 120,000gns as Lots 664 and 668, respectively.

He was acting on behalf of Chris Waller, as indeed would be the case when he gave 190,000gns for Crystal Pegasus (GB) (Australia {GB}) in the draft of Sir Michael Stoute. This Sir Evelyn De Rothschild home-bred, presented as lot 697, had taken seven attempts to break his maiden but then followed up in a Yarmouth handicap last month. He is certainly entitled to keep progressing, being out of a half-sister to elite scorers Crystal Ocean (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Hillstar (GB) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}).

Another six-figure yield from the Somerville Lodge draft, meanwhile, was the juvenile Royal Address (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}), acquired as a Doncaster yearling by Blandford Bloodstock for £45,000 and sold here–a month after completing a hat-trick in listed company at Chantilly–for 170,000gns to Emmanuel de Seroux of Narvick International.

Lot 687 will continue her career in California in the silks of Marsha Naify. “A beautiful mover and she looks the type to do well out there,” de Seroux said. “She has plenty of speed, she’s athletic, and looks very sound. Of course, she’s a stakes winner already so will have breeding value one day, but she’ll only be turning three so let’s hope she can win a Grade I first.”

Gaining Admission to the Ballydoyle Party

De Seroux had already shown his faith in the graduates of a top-class stable when signing the first six-figure docket of the sale for Numen (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (lot 223) the previous day. Acting for the same, unnamed client, he gave 160,000gns for the 3-year-old Party Season (American Pharoah) (lot 627) just four days after the colt broke his maiden in good style at Dundalk.

This looked a good buy. A half-brother to Airdrie’s promising young stallion Upstart (Flatter), he had cost $1 million as a Saratoga yearling-bred by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen and sold through Summerfield–and his two previous starts for Ballydoyle had both been on heavy ground. There could be plenty more to come in a different environment.

“He won well on the all-weather the other day,” de Seroux reasoned. “So maybe he could switch to dirt. But I don’t say that he is necessarily going to America. As with yesterday’s horse, we will keep all the options open for now. But we love the American Pharoahs, and bought a few last year.”

The latent potential even in graduates of a stable as thorough and accomplished as Ballydoyle had been reiterated just before the sale by the G1 Cox Plate success of Sir Dragonet (Ire) (Camelot {GB}). And the top lot of the Ballydoyle draft, Keats (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), will also be heading to Australia after Armando Duarte landed lot 623 with a single bid at 200,000gns for Ballymore Stables Australia / Paul Moroney Bloodstock.

Keats, who crowned a busy campaign with a listed success at Cork last month, is out of the very fast Airwave (GB) (Air Express {Ire}), whose daughter Meow (Ire) (Storm Cat) has produced dual Classic winner Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and his sister Clemmie (Ire), who emulated Airwave’s success in the G1 Cheveley Park S.

Moroney’s brother Mike will take charge of Keats at Flemington. Duarte has been serving as their eyes and ears here.

“I’ve known Paul 16 or 17 years, we’ve become good friends, and I know just what he likes and doesn’t like,” Duarte explained. “So since he couldn’t make the trip this year–he’s in quarantine in Australia having gone to the Gold Coast for the sales–I video every single thing that may be a fault until we make sure we’re all right. And this was our pick of the sale. Normally we’d be looking for a stayer but he looks a miler, or will maybe get a mile and quarter. And he came very highly recommended by Mick Flanagan, who works closely with Coolmore Australia. It was perhaps more than we wanted to pay, but we think we have a nice horse with a future.”

Perhaps the best-bred horse in the whole catalogue, never mind just in the Ballydoyle draft, was Nobel Prize (Ire) (Galileo)–a brother to Highland Reel (Ire) and his accomplished siblings. Their dam Hveger (Aus) (Danehill) is herself out of a no less celebrated mare in Circles of Gold (Aus) (Marscay {Aus}), so even the nose by which Nobel Prize landed a Group 3 prize at Dundalk this summer might make him eligible as a stallion in some jurisdictions or disciplines.

Such is certainly the way John Walsh was thinking in giving 170,000gns for lot 714 on behalf of an unnamed patron, who will now export Nobel Prize for a stud career. “It’s a fabulous page and he’s a big, strapping 16.1 horse,” the agent said. “My client has pursued him for a while. I remember being impressed when the horse won at Naas as a 2-year-old, though a very late foal [May 7]. There’s been interest in various countries. It’s an international pedigree and would work anywhere, the same Galileo-Danehill cross as Frankel.”

The Force Is with Fawzi

The compliments earlier extended to William Haggas would doubtless prompt him to remark that he could have had no better mentor, in terms of a professional approach to this sale, than Sir Mark Prescott.

The discipline and demeanour of the Heath House string was as impressive as ever, and came as no surprise to Oliver St Lawrence, who gave 160,000gns for Glen Force (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) on behalf of Fawzi Nass.  “He came highly recommended by the trainer,” the agent said. “We have horses with him so if he has put us away, he’ll be for the high jump.”

That typical flourish of mischief did not alter the fact that lot 721, unusually for the stable, had only tried a distance beyond a mile when winning for a second time in a Nottingham handicap last month.

Other yards to achieve excellent overseas dividends for clients included Roger Charlton, who mustered 140,000gns from Californian interests to help defray costs of the monarch’s Turf operation through her 89-rated homebred Evening Sun (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) (lot 750); Sir Michael Stoute, whose productive sale of Crystal Pegasus was noted earlier and who later secured a 150,000gns private sale (with Australian trainer Annabel Neasham through Blandford Bloodstock) for dual Group 3 winner Zaaki (GB) (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}) (lot 706); and David O’Meara, who has nursed King’s Charisma (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) from a rating of 65 to 86 in winning three handicaps to gain a 170,000gns transfer to Australian Bloodstock / Ronald Rauscher (lot 770). King’s Charisma was bought out of Book 2 here a couple of years ago by Jeremy Brummitt for just 20,000gns.

A Profitable Adventure

The coup of the day was supervised by that astute horseman Andrew Slattery, who counts jumps champion Faugheen (Ire) (Germany) among his many discoveries among young bloodstock.

Ascot Adventure (GB) (Mayson {GB}) was originally purchased as a Tattersalls Ascot yearling by Five Star Bloodstock for just £4,800, but was scratched from the Goresbridge breeze-ups by Clenagh Castle Stud. Having been saddled by Slattery to score impressively on debut at Cork last month, he arrived here as wildcard lot 746B–and realized 150,000gns from Woodhurst Construction.

That is the Potters Barr business of Kevin Bailey, who will be putting a syndicate together with John Fitzpatrick. The two friends were standing with Roger Fell, but teasingly remarked that no trainer will be chosen until the remaining shares were sold.

“He’s a very nice 2-year-old and won his maiden really well,” said Fitzpatrick. “We think he will make a really nice sprinter next year.”

“He has a bit of size about him as well, so there is some improvement as he grows and that is what you want,” added Bailey. “We’ll give him a break now, and next year will go to war.”

Bailey had a stake in that splendid globe-trotter Presvis (GB) (Sakhee), who amassed over £4 million in prizemoney at places like Meydan, Sha Tin and Kranji. “Let’s hope this fellow will take us to some nice places too,” he said.

Station Stays on Fast Track

Three smart operations converged productively in Dubai Station (GB) (Brazen Beau {Aus}), who realized 150,000gns as lot 554. One of many modestly priced yearlings to have achieved Pattern success for Karl Burke–a 30,000gns graduate of Book 2, he was placed at Royal Ascot as a juvenile and this year added the G3 Pavilion S.–he is now to join a stable that has excelled in the recruitment of elite sprinters. He will do so in the colours of Middleham Park Racing, who have enjoyed such prolific success in 2020.

“He’ll be our first horse with Robert Cowell,” said Tim Palin, director of racing for the syndication umbrella. “We decided we’d try to get a bit of quality if we could, and this horse has a serious engine. It’s now up to the trainer to mastermind some future glories.”

Cowell is embracing that challenge with due excitement. “I’m delighted to get on board with Middleham Park, with their fantastic record,” he said. “This is a plan we’ve been putting together for two or three months. He’s a very good-looking horse that doesn’t have too many miles on the clock, and he’s rated to run potentially in very smart handicaps or stakes races. So he has options. We’ll sit down and have a glass of wine at some point, and come up with a plan.”

International Options for 95-rated Pair

One of the benchmark types at this sale is the hard-knocking 3-year-old that has earned a handicap rating that might be hard work over here, but has established his eligibility for pastures new. Two such, each rated 95, made six figures within a few minutes around lunchtime: Prince Of Naples (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) went to John Egan for 120,000gns as lot 591, while Byline (GB) (Muharaar {GB}) brought 110,000gns from Alastair Donald (lot 597).

Both may well be on their way to the Middle East, though Egan was non-committal pending discussion with “a longstanding client” regarding Prince Of Naples, who had put in a timely advertisement when fourth in listed company at Leopardstown just 10 days previously.

“We could keep him here, we might look at Dubai,” Egan said. “I just loved the horse. He’s had a few things going on this year, and that gave us a chance because he would have been too expensive this time last year. He’s a bonny horse, one we can crack on with, and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come: I had a long chat with his trainer Sheila Lavery. I’ve a lot of respect for her, and everything just added up.”

This was another of the day’s well bought horses, as a €36,000 Fairyhouse yearling who has been racing in the silks of Lavery’s brother John. But Donald could see why Byline, for his part, had last visited this ring in Book 1, when bought by Stephen Hillen and trainer Kevin Ryan for 140,000gns. Racing for Highclere, he had won at two and added a Leicester handicap in June.

“He’s a very good-looking horse,” Donald remarked. “One of the best here. He’s a very solid, straightforward, consistent type and I’d say pretty good value for the level, rated 104 by Timeform. And he should do well on fast ground where he’s going.”

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