Hot Stuff as Somerville Sale Lands Running

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Lot 206, a bay colt by Twilight Son topped the sale | Tattersalls

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NEWMARKET, UK—In the words of one of many satisfied consignors here on Tuesday, this is a sale “going places”.

That was literally the case, of course, when the embryonic version first staged at Ascot only in 2017 was last year transferred to Park Paddocks as an expedient of the pandemic. But it's an ill wind that blows no good, and the market adapted so healthily to its sanctuary that it was decided to keep it there.

Rebranded as the Somerville Yearling Sale, and deriving many logistical and psychological benefits from its setting, the hosts feel that the auction cannot be fairly measured against its nascent years. But with even those sales having produced some highly accomplished graduates, there was no mistaking the momentum behind this catalogue. Sure enough, trade soared along with the mercury. If the Indian summer made for exceptionally thirsty work for consignors and their staff, then for many the dividends made all their perspiration worthwhile.

Whatever asterisks may be required in making comparisons, turnover of 4,952,000gns outright doubled 2,458,418gns last year. Of a slightly larger offering into the ring, 270 up from 250, as few as 38 were unsold (47 last year), yielding an average of 21,345gns. That is 76% up on 12,110gns last year. The 16,250gns median was even stronger, up 93% on 8,400gns.

Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony was justly elated.

“We are absolutely delighted with today's inaugural Tattersalls Somerville Yearling Sale,” he said. “We had no choice but to relocate last year's Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale and it proved a great success—which made the decision to rebrand and permanently relocate the fixture a relatively straightforward one. Sale turnover of double last year's wide-margin record level, as well as huge rises in average and median, fully vindicate the decision and suggest that the Somerville Yearling Sale can legitimately be regarded as Europe's most progressive yearling sale.

“There has been a genuinely vibrant atmosphere around Park Paddocks for the past few days and, just as with last week's Tattersalls August Sale, it has been a pleasure to have been able to conduct the Somerville Yearling Sale without the need for any restrictions. We have welcomed buyers from throughout Europe and further afield, but perhaps the most encouraging feature of today's sale has been the prolific number of British trainers who have been active. They have all contributed to a sale which has produced more lots sold for 50,000 guineas or above than the previous four Ascot Yearling Sales combined, a record top price of 120,000 guineas and a clearance rate well over 80%.

“We should also pay tribute to the consignors, both British and Irish, who have allowed us to take this sale to a new level. They have supported the sale with quality stock and their confidence in the sale and the venue has been rewarded. The inaugural Tattersalls Somerville Yearling Sale has been energetically and widely promoted, not least with the introduction of the £100,000 Tattersalls Somerville Auction S., and the enthusiastic response from buyers is a positive indicator as we look forward to the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale and Books 1 to 4 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.”

Sale Topper's Topsy-Turvy Tale

Bloodstock sales depend on industrial levels of optimism, and we all know that few of the dreams embraced here will ever be realized quite as hoped. At the same time, however, the unpredictability of the business can cut both ways—and the 120,000gns given for a son of Twilight Son (GB) (lot 206) represented a far happier ending than was once envisaged for his dam; or than seemed remotely possible, in a terrifying episode coming up here, for the colt himself.

For the two yearlings comprising the Petches Farm consignment were extremely fortunate to escape unscathed from a crash that required them to be transferred to another lorry on the roadside. Stud manager Ollie Costello, who had been following a few minutes behind, explained, “The lorry was run off the road: it is a write-off. I rang Keith Harte, whose farm is only five minutes away. He jumped into his own lorry and came out, he was with us really quickly, and both horses behaved impeccably. Thank God everyone involved, and the horses, were all okay. And today's result is fantastic, I am so pleased for all the team.”

But the colt would not have been foaled at all, had his dam not made a narrow escape of her own. In her racing career, Baileys Jubilee (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}) was one of those who really did achieve the kind of things buyers aspire to. Though only a £19,000 yearling, she won a listed race in France and was placed in races as prestigious as the G1 Cheveley Park S. and the G2 Lowther S.

But within weeks of coming out of training she was stricken by laminitis. “It was touch and go for a while,” recalled Simon Venner, sales director of Baileys Horse Feeds and son of its managing director Paul. “So we always felt she was slightly on borrowed time.”

Yet she defied the odds, and is now one of few among their broodmare band to be kept on home soil as opposed to farming French premiums at the Haras de Trois Chapelles. Her Twilight Son (GB) colt proved a fine advertisement for the house nutrition in forcing Adam Driver of the Global Equine Group to go far higher than he had anticipated.

“I was hoping we might get him for around 75,000gns,” admitted Driver, who was acting for Raed El Youssef. “But there you go. He was the only one on my shortlist! We will get him back to Jo Fenton's and let her work her magic, break him in and get him backed. He's a strong, solid horse, so we'll see what he shapes up into.”

Venner, of course, was conversely delighted by the price. “Obviously we were very hopeful,” he said. “We knew we were bringing a nice individual to the sale and all the right people were on him. But we couldn't expect quite that level. He's been flat out since he got here. I think he owned this runway [in the Further Yard] and caught quite a few eyes.”

As for Baileys Freedom, now 11, she was given a break in the last cycle and is now in foal to Oasis Dream (GB).

Aguiar Jumps to it

In an environment like this, all hot sunshine and precocious yearlings, it was pleasant to be reminded of the sheer diversity of our business. For the nursery that produced an Ardad filly (lot 128) to realize 85,000gns from Robson Aguiar was Cobhall Court Stud, where the late Robin Knipe bred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Master Oats (GB) (Oats {GB}) and, more recently, another warmer of National Hunt hearts in Thistlecrack (GB) (Kayf Tara {GB}).

Over the years Cobhall Court was also home to a series of important jumps stallions, but nowadays Knipe's widow Scarlett operates at the opposite end of the spectrum.

“I sell foals, mainly, and I'll be going home now to get 11 ready for December,” she said. “But we're starting to keep the fillies now, as you just can't sell them [as weanlings].”

This was a case in point, as a daughter of Sparkling Eyes (GB) (Lujain), acquired here in 2008 for 16,500 gns carrying her first foal. That turned out to be eight-time winner Pea Shooter (GB) (Piccolo {GB}).

“The mare's getting older now but she had a nice colt foal by Tasleet (GB) and she's in foal to Havana Grey (GB),” reported the happy breeder. “I just go for something I think good-looking and hope they come out straight and correct: if they do that, you're halfway there, aren't you?”

Nonetheless this dividend was rather more than she had expected. “I'm slightly gobsmacked,” she admitted. “But she's never really in her box here, and she's been good as gold, a joy to deal with.”

Aguiar, bidding online and presumably somewhere in the shade, also gave 75,000gns for a Tasleet (GB) filly presented as lot 100 by Trickledown Stud on behalf of Richard Tucker's Nelson Farm in Devon.

As this Valentine's Day delivery entered the ring, auctioneer Ollie Fowlston commanded attention for “an out-and-out Queen Mary filly.”

“Ollie said that, and we all like to think our fillies might be,” reflected Paul Thorman of Trickledown. “But she really could be, you know.”

Thorman disclaimed all credit for the filly. “We only met her here,” he said. “And she consigned herself. Anybody could consign a filly like this. You know, sometimes they can be a bit trappy: they don't want to do this, they don't want to do that. But she just had everything you need. I'd say the best thing of all about her is her head: she had over 100 views and she just loved it, being walked up and down in a heatwave. Great temperament, physically hard to fault, and of course she had a page as well.”

Her half-brother A Momentofmadness (GB) (Elnadim) was a prolific, group-paced sprinter, and the second dam Applaud (Rahy) won the G3 Cherry Hinton S. But Thorman thought that the contribution of her rookie sire, the son of Showcasing (GB) standing at Nunnery Stud for just £5,000, should not be underestimated.

“They tell me that by the end of October he'll be the one we're all talking about,” he said. “There are supposed to be some very nice ones around.”

“She stood out for me,” said Aguiar. “She has a good walk, she's strong, she looks sharp–like a 2-year-old. Like a Royal Ascot filly!”

Buyers Snapping Up Breeze-Up Prospects

In a catalogue like this, it was no surprise to see Aguiar's breeze-up rivals active throughout the day, though prices were hardly leaving them a comfortable margin for error. It spoke well for the Zoustar (Aus) filly offered as lot 236 by Galloway Stud, then, that he was knocked down to one as shrewd as Jim McCartan at 70,000gns. The docket was signed in the name of MC Bloodstock.

Sadly this is the final foal of Cordial (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), who had been a low-key Juddmonte cull as a 3-year-old in 2014. “Unfortunately the mare died last year,” revealed Stuart Thom of Galloway Stud. “But the team at home have done a fantastic job and the filly never put a foot wrong. And we had some perfect timing on the updates.”

Those included a graded stakes placing at Kentucky Downs for the dam's half-brother Monarchs Glen (GB) (Frankel {GB}) on the eve of the sale, while her Helmet (Aus) filly Libertine Belle (GB) won for a third time the same day. Not that it's a family that needs a great deal of help, second dam Mirabilis (Lear Fan) being a Group 1-placed half-sister to that classy Juddmonte filly Nebraska Tornado (Storm Cat).

“She's been walked off her feet,” Thom said. “And I've done a few steps myself! But Tattersalls have done a marvellous job, the quality of the catalogue is fantastic. Some people haven't quite picked up on Zoustar yet, but they will next year!”

That, of course, is when the Australian star's first Northern Hemisphere crop will start to exhibit their wares on the racetrack.

Pinhook Catches Tylicki's Eye

One of the bigger pay-outs of the day had to be placed in the context of its biggest stake, the Expert Eye colt consigned by Kilminfoyle House Stud as lot 173 having been the sale's top foal pinhook when sold by Dukes Stud for 41,000gns to JC Bloodstock here last December. The wager paid off here when Freddy Tylicki signed an 80,000gns docket.

“I loved him, I thought he was the pick of the sale,” Tylicki said. “I am very taken with how well Expert Eye is throwing them. This is for a client, no trainer is planned yet, we'll have to have a chat and make plans but he'll stay in Britain I'm sure. We were very keen on this lad, so we're delighted to have got him. He has a lovely physique, a great walk, plenty of presence, very good eye to him. He ticked a lot of the boxes—probably all of them!”

Certainly a tick could be applied to a page that might have held up well enough here next month: the dam, who has already produced a graded stakes winner in the U.S., is a Dalakhani (Ire) half-sister to G1 Coronation S. winner Balisada (GB) (Kris), their mother in turn of a half-sister to Inchmurrin (GB) (Lomond), runner-up in the same race.

That might only get you so far, of course, with a colt. But a few minutes later there was a case for saying that an Awtaad (Ire) filly (lot 188) from Tally-Ho might eventually justify the 65,000gns paid by Jamie Piggott and Nigel Tinkler simply as a breeding prospect. For her dam, already a black-type producer, is a half-sister to Independence (GB) (Selkirk), the dual Group-winning dam of G1 Eclipse winner Mount Nelson (GB) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}); while the next dam is a half-sister to Derby winner Reference Point (GB) (Mill Reef).

The same partnership bought another Awtaad colt for 50,000gns in Book II here a couple of years ago, now the 99-rated four-time winner Isla Kai (Ire). “So this one was a no-brainer,” Piggott said. “She's a big, strong, beautiful filly.”

October Quality a Month Early

Another fine example of the maturing quality of this auction was the 70,000gns paid for lot 105, a Kodiac (GB) filly from Knockatrina House. She, too, has clear potential in terms of residual value as a half-sister to Group 3 winner Laraaib (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) out of a stakes-winning half-sister to several black-type producers, including the dams of Gutaifan (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), Maraahel (Ire) (Alzao) and Ventura Storm (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}). As such, she could easily have been reserved for next month.

“She was accepted for Book II,” disclosed Canice Farrell of Knockatrina. “But I thought she might get lost in it. Don't get me wrong, she's a phenomenal filly. We've had a lot of good horses over the years, three or four Group 1 winners—and this is a Royal Ascot filly. But I knew she'd be in the top 10% here, and she's had 100-plus shows. She has a great mind, and a lovely action.”

While Farrell nodded towards Brendan Cooney as he led the filly back to the Wall Boxes, describing him as “the one who has really done all the work”, there's no doubting his own, innate horsemanship. He bred G1 Golden Jubilee S. winner Fayr Jag (Ire) (Fayruz {GB}); pinhooked the prolific miler Paco Boy (Ire) (Desert Style {Ire}); and was plainly raised to have the same kind of eye as that so respected in the American industry in his sister, Marette.

Remarkably, given the proliferation of black type on the page meanwhile, Farrell was able to pick up this filly's dam Sahool (GB) (Unfuwain) for just 4,500gns here in December 2016, just a few months before Laraaib's emergence as a juvenile. Having retained another of her daughters, herself in foal to Kodiac, Farrell will be hoping that this one excels for Kevin Ryan.

The same trainer, again accompanied by Roger Marley, had earlier recruited lot 49, a Cotai Glory (GB) half-brother to Weatherbys Super Sprint winner Bettys Hope (GB) (Anjaal {GB}), for 47,000gns. Sadly, Llety Farms this spring lost their dam Miss Poppy (GB) (Averti {Ire}), a half-sister to the champion sprinter Kyllachy (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

“There's plenty of speed in the family,” said Marley. “And we all like speed! Kevin has had a good one by the sire.”

That would be Atomic Force (Ire), winner of the G2 Prix Robert Papin after being found by Ryan and Stephen Hillen for just €22,000 at Goffs last September.

Night of Thunder Lights up the Evening

The embers of a sweltering day, in and out of the ring, were stoked up in the cool of the evening by the appearance late in proceedings of a Night Of Thunder colt consigned as lot 272 by Whatton Manor Stud.

Out of the wryly-named Fleabiscuit (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}), a debut winner at two before managing only one more start, he brought 78,000gns from Kevin Ross after some determined breeze-up competition.

“He's by a proper sire,” the agent said. “And a good, solid colt. The mare must have had a lot of ability, for a High Chaparral to win as a 2-year-old, and we just liked the individual.”

Ross was acting on behalf of Paul and Clare Rooney, as had been the case earlier when he gave 68,000gns for lot 247, a Dandy Man (Ire) filly consigned by Cooneen Stud. The big spur there was the blossoming of half-sister Corazon (Ire) (Markaz {Ire}), unraced on publication of the catalogue but winner of the G3 Prix d'Arenberg just five days previously for George Boughey.

“Obviously that was a nice update,” Ross said. “But we thought she was a nice, racy filly in her own right.”

St Lawrence Feels the Heat

“Very hot!” said Oliver St Lawrence, when asked about how he was finding the afternoon. And he was referring to the trade, not the weather, having been underbidder to Robson Aguiar on both the top prices paid to that point, when he finally landed a Kessaar (Ire) colt from Tally-Ho Stud for 62,000gns.

The agent admitted that he hadn't particularly had the rookie stallion in the front of his mind, coming to Doncaster and then here, but had been quite taken with what he had seen of his output so far.

Though the family tapers through the studs of Aga Khan and Marcel Boussac, it has recently been concentrating on outright speed and that wouldn't seem likely to change with lot 138, result of the union of Kessaar with an unraced Whipper mare already responsible for half a dozen juvenile winners.

“I just thought this was a lovely colt,” St Lawrence said. “All the siblings are rated in the 90s and 80s, and they're all 2-year-olds. He'll be off to Phil Makin and let's hope it'll be the top hat and all that.”

Cox Plucks Another Apple from a Cherished Tree

A single glimpse at the catalogue page would have sufficed to anticipate the author of the 50,000gns bid that landed lot 66, a Starspangledbanner (Aus) filly presented by Ballyphilip Stud. Sure enough, the congratulations from the rostrum were offered to Clive Cox, who could compress a whole chapter of his ever-lengthening CV under the second dam Great Joy (Ire) (Grand Lodge).

The Lambourn trainer won the G2 Vintage S. with her son Xtension (Ire) (Xaar {GB}); made a champion sprinter of one grandson, Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}); and won the G1 Middle Park S. with another, Supremacy (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}). For good measure he also trained this filly's dam Our Joy (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) to win a maiden for the McCartans of Ballyphilip after she never made the sales.

“It's a family that has been extremely successful for us,” Cox said. “There are many fond memories, all the way down the page really. And this is a lovely filly, she has a very athletic walk, a very strong hip. There are a lot of similarities to [others in] the family and I am delighted to get her.”

Cox conceded disappointment with Supremacy's latest failure to rekindle his juvenile form, at Haydock last Saturday. “He came back fine,” he said with a shrug. “It was a little disappointing: he was top-class at two, and isn't quite reaching that level this year. But he is fine.”

Ballyphilip's Paul McCartan was one of many to identify “an upward curve” in this auction, having brought the filly here specifically to shine at this level, with the relocation to Newmarket and her eligibility for restricted races both viewed as a bonus. He'll be commuting back for the “Fairyhouse” auction and then the October Sale, where he promises the full brother to the stud's champion graduate Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) will be revealed as “a gorgeous horse.”

More Acclaim for Sheehan

Good horsemanship is good horsemanship, whatever your level, and James Sheehan of Clonmult Farm reiterated the skills that made such an impression at this end of the market a couple of years ago when presenting an Acclamation (GB) colt to realize 45,000gns as lot 36.

Sheehan, who sold a €1,000 yearling by The Last Lion for €78,000 to double the next highest lot at the Goffs Autumn Sale of 2019, co-bred this son of a multiple winner by New Approach (Ire) with Rachel Robinson. He was pleased to hear from purchaser Will Douglass that the colt will be going to Richard Hannon.

“They know what to do with their Acclamations there!” remarked Douglass of the firm that gave us Mehmas (Ire) and Harbour Watch (Ire). “Obviously he's by a very, very good sire and he's a really good-moving, lovely horse who really stood out.”

Douglass was acting on behalf of Jassim Bin Ali Al Attiyah, who has had a fine summer with a representative of this sire-line in Gubbass (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}), winner of the Weatherbys Super Sprint for Hannon before placing in the G2 Richmond S.

Sheehan, for his part, was another full of enthusiasm for the overall direction of this auction.

“I liked it at Ascot too, it was laid-back and we had good luck there too,” he said. “But whether it was there or here, there's definitely better quality every year as you can see from what they're doing on the racetrack. This lad certainly suited this sale: he wasn't going to be missed, in fact he had 100 views. And there's every likelihood he will be a racehorse.”

Ardad Sets Early Pace

Ever since being forced to share top billing at the remarkable Doncaster breeze-up sale of 2016, where he sold another £170,000 son of Kodiac (GB) in Prince Of Lir (Ire), Con Marnane has been keen to keep on the right side of Ardad (Ire).

Both Ardad and Prince Of Lir, of course, went on to win at Royal Ascot—and both have already sired sons to do the same. Marnane was duly emboldened to pay the biggest price of the opening hour for lot 13, a son of Ardad from Manor Farm Stud (Rutland), at 42,000gns.

“I'm a huge fan of the sire, have been all along,” he explained. “I have a share in him, and a couple of mares in foal including a half-sister to Dutch Art (GB) (Medicean {GB}).”

For all his enthusiasm, Marnane had been forced to wait until now to pinhook an Ardad yearling at Bansha House. “I couldn't afford any!” he exclaimed with a grin. “But he's proven now, Richard Fahey's horse [G1 Prix Morny winner Perfect Power (Ire)] is an absolute machine. This one has a beautiful back pedigree and I'd hope to bring him back here to the Craven Sale.”

Sure enough, the dam—herself by Dutch Art—is out of a half-sister to those popular stalwarts Orientor (GB) (Inchinor {GB}) and Yeast (GB) (Salse). Their dam Orient (GB) (Bay Express {Ire}) is one of the linchpins of the speedy pedigrees cultivated by the Watson family, albeit she has not proved quite so remarkable an influence as Penny Pincher (GB) (Constable {GB}), who holds together the pages of so many good horses including Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). And the latter, auspiciously, is only a couple of winners behind the precocious Ardad as their respective first crops—who currently have them first and fifth respectively in the freshman prizemoney table—approach the autumn.

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