'Horse First, Pedigree Second' – Donny Rockets Take Centre Stage At Goffs 

The Premier Yearling Sale kicks off on Tuesday | Goffs UK


DONCASTER, England-The vendors have answered the rallying call. That was the message issued by an upbeat Henry Beeby on the eve of the eagerly-anticipated Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale. And judging by the footfall here since Sunday, the Goffs chief has every reason to be positive. 

The Al Mohamediya Racing team have been out in force trying to find the next Jasour (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}). Top trainers Richard Hannon, Clive Cox and Ger Lyons have also been busy inspecting the stock on offer, not to mention the number of leading agents and breeze-up handlers in attendance. 

If Arqana lit the touch paper on the European yearling sale season with a booming trade, all of the ingredients are here at Doncaster for another lively session, and Beeby was left praising vendors for coming up trumps in fitting the brief that was set out to them.

He explained, “There is no doubt the vendors have stepped up and answered our call. We had a good sale last year and, when our team went on to the farms in Britain and Ireland, we asked vendors for a step up in quality for this year's sale. The vendors have done us proud and we have been very well supported by them. 

“I have looked at almost all of the horses that I am going to be auctioning myself and I am very impressed. There are some lovely horses here-horses that would grace any other first choice sale.”

Luke Barry: has a strong draft | Emma Berry

One man who has brought more than his fair share of classy yearlings to Doncaster down through the years is Luke Barry of Manister House Stud. It was at this sale where Barry sold Group 1 winners Fev Rover (Ire) (Gutaifan {Ire}) and La Collina (Ire) (Strategic Prince {GB}). He offers an 11-strong draft on Tuesday and Wednesday and reported the action at Barn B to be encouraging. 

In between organising shows for Brian Meehan, the Al Mohamediya team, Shadwell boss Angus Gold and more, Barry said, “Footfall in Donny is always good and it has been very good again this year. We have a nice bunch of horses and this sale has been very good. It's been busy but, like I said, it always is here. 

“They do a great job and people always turn out in force for this sale. We've been lucky here. We've sold a lot of Group 1 winners here. We've had luck in the ring and on the track from this sale so hopefully that continues this week.”

As well as offering some early and fast-looking types, Barry has never been afraid of throwing a nice horse who could benefit from more of a trip, into this sale while his neighbour in Barn B, Tom Blain or Barton Stud, is another consignor who has brought a classy draft of horses that features everything from a sharp Pinatubo (Ire) [428] to a good-walking Sea The Stars (Ire) [234].

However, according to Beeby, the foundations of the Premier Yearling Sale have been built on Donny rockets, which is something the sales house does not want to lose focus on again. 

He explained, “We are seeing the faces we want to see here. The industry takes this sale very seriously. It has a long, rich history. We took a long look at the Premier Yearling Sale a few years ago. We felt we had morphed slightly away from what we were always known for. We reviewed it all and thought that the most important thing was to get back to the Donny rockets.

“When I started in the early eighties and when my father was there before me, it was always about the individual. It was always about the good-looking horse. When we went into the fields with the vendors, we told them we needed a looker, and that's what we have delivered. It's horse first, pedigree second here. And unashamedly so. It works and, of all the sales, the Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale has as an identity, if not the strongest identity, of any other sale. Everybody knows what they are going to get when they walk in through these gates and we're very proud of that.”

Beeby added, “The horses from this sale have done well on the track and, the fact that we have increased the prize-money for the Harry's Half Million has obviously caught the imagination and we had a very good renewal of the sales race on Thursday. That demonstrates the quality of the horses on offer and the footfall ahead of this year's sale has been great.”

One of the fascinating subplots of the Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale each year is how it provides the first taster of how the market reacts to a first-season stallion. One horse, or at least a couple of different variations of his name, has come up in conversation more than any other over the weekend, and that's Whitsbury Manor Stud's Sergei Prokofiev, or as one leading buyer called him on Monday, 'Sergei Provoloff.'

While everyone may not be in unison on how to pronounce his name, the stock of Sergei Prokofiev has gone down well with many industry judges, and Whitsbury's Ed Harper is optimistic about what this week will bring. 

Ed Harper of Whistbury Manor Stud | Sarah Farnsworth

He said, “The past few weeks, you couldn't open the newspaper without seeing a son of Scat Daddy producing a stakes winner. It has been ridiculous. Whether it's Justify, No Nay Never, Sioux Nation, Seahenge or Seabhac, it's every day. It's unreal. I was very confident about Sergei Prokofiev being a son of Scat Daddy but it has just been off the scale. You want to come here and see a resemblance in his stock compared to the other sons of Scat Daddy and they are big, strong horses. That's what I have seen here from them-they are strong, have lots of bone and seem to have great attitudes as well. I couldn't be happier.” 

Indeed, Whitsbury Manor Stud is familiar with launching a young stallion and it's their own Havana Grey who is responsible for this sale's poster boy Jasour. An £85,000 purchase by Clive Cox from renowned pinhooker and consignor Jenny Norris, Jasour won his maiden in June before running out an impressive winner of the G2 July S. last month. 

That success sparked great scenes on the July course, with Ali Majeed of the Bahraini outfit celebrating as though he'd struck a last-minute winner at Wembley, and he was busy trying to find the next winner to toast on Monday.

He said, “We like fast horses and Doncaster is the sale for fast horses. We like coming to Doncaster. We bought Jasour, Shagraan (Ire) (Sioux Nation) and Golden Horde (Ire) here. We bought two in France last week. One was by Golden Horde, so we wanted to support him, and the other was by Hello Youmzain (Fr). We're happy with how the yearlings by Golden Horde have sold and there is a filly here [219] by him as well. The majority of them will sell in France, where Golden Horde is standing, but hopefully when buyers see more of his yearlings they will like them.”

Majeed added, “We are very happy with how racing in Bahrain is developing and improving. We had a Group 2 there this year and hopefully there will be a Group 1 next year. We really enjoy coming together for the racing and the sales. It is one family and one group of people involved and that's why we enjoy it so much. The sales in France were very strong but, here at Doncaster, you can buy the fast horses. We look for speed.”

There will be no shortage of speed on offer here over the next two days with the sale kicking off at 10 am on Tuesday. 

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