Night Of Thunder Colt Tops Craven

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The Craven-topping Night Of Thunder colt | Laura Green/Tattersalls

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NEWMARKET, UK—Thunder is indeed expected in Newmarket as the scorching hot snap comes to an end but it appeared early at Tattersalls on Thursday when Darley’s up-and-coming sire Night Of Thunder (Ire) was represented by the leading juvenile, at 575,000gns, of the Craven Breeze-up Sale. With Jane Chapple-Hyam one of the early determined bidders, the bragging rights eventually went to Tom Biggs of Blandford Bloodstock, who played the winning shot in a game of ping-pong in the seats between himself and underbidder Mark McStay.

Johnny Collins of Brown Island Stables had made a splash with a colt by the same sire at the Craven Sale of 2019 when selling the subsequent dual winner Path Of Thunder (Ire) to Godolphin for 375,000gns. He said, “After that I wanted to buy another Night Of Thunder but I’m not sure I’ll be able to buy them in the future.”

Last year’s Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale purchase proved to be well bought at £72,000, and the profit he turned on Thursday will doubtless go some way to shoring up an uncertain year of trade for the pinhooker.

Collins added, “The colt never put a foot wrong. I bought him early [in August] and he is a late April foal and he has just kept progressing. He grew and he strengthened.”

Tom Biggs was unable to divulge the owner or future trainer of the colt (lot 134), who is out of the winning Shadwell-bred mare Thurayaat (GB) Tamayuz (GB), a grand-daughter of the Oaks and 1000 Guineas winner Midway Lady (Alleged). His dam had been bought by Oliver St Lawrence for breeder Imran Butt for just €19,000 at the 2018 Goffs February Sale when carrying him.

The roasting temperature outside the ring was on occasion reflected in some of the transactions within, but the high points were sporadic and there will be more hard-luck tales among pinhookers than there are congratulatory moments.

After a rash of withdrawals and a smattering of late entries, 84 juveniles came under the hammer for the Craven Sale and, with vendors clearly taking a pragmatic approach, an encouraging 83% clearance rate was registered through the sale of 70 horses for a total of 6,649,500gns. That was 15 fewer than the number sold at last year’s event and, in this extraordinary season, comparisons seem almost pointless but, as a guide, the average settled at 94,993gns, which was down by 22%, while the median dropped by 28% to 61,000gns.

American Sires In Vanguard
Known to have completed one of the fastest breezes on Monday and the only juvenile by the U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the sale, lot 51 attracted plenty of attention as he entered the ring, though his purchaser was not there in person to place the decisive bid. The colt eventually brought the hammer down at 400,000gns to an online play from Simon Chappell.

Byron Rogers was one of the men responsible for buying the son of stakes winner Harlan’s Honor for $170,000 at the Keeneland September Sale and, with his team of fellow pinhookers at Star Bloodstock, decided to send the colt to be prepared for sale in Ireland by Johnny Hassett.

“We’re delighted with that,” Rogers said. “He’s a tough little horse and has been very straightforward. He breezed really well and looked the part. We bought 14 horses last year and sold two privately before the sale. We also put two into training for the syndicate. There were three horses who really stood out for us in March and he was one of them, along with the Acclamation filly who sells later.”

Contacted later by telephone, Simon Chappell said, “”I know the guys at Star Bloodstock and they’ve been telling me this colt is a good horse all year. At 400,000gns there was no way I was letting a horse like him slip through the net. He’s by the sire of the moment in American Pharoah, he did the third-fastest breeze and has a massive stride, so I used the online bidding system and bought the horse. He’ll be going into training with Simon Crisford.”

Another of the day’s leading lights was lot 152, who wasn’t even in the sale when the catalogues were first printed and only arrived in Ireland from America in early March. Willie Browne of Mocklershill took charge of the Normandy Farm-bred daughter of Hard Spun and said he was “flabbergasted” when she sold to Matt Coleman for 375,000gns.

“She’s a lovely filly and her breeze was exceptional,” he added. “She only came to me on 2 March and at that stage Fairyhouse was the only sale she could have gone to, but with the delay we brought her here and I think she is a seriously good filly.”

The April-foaled filly is out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemonette, a dual Grade III-placed winner of four races who has already produced the stakes-placed Basha (Uncle Mo) among her three winners to date.

Regular breeze-up buyer Peter Swann of the Cool Silk Partnership was alongside Coleman during the bidding and said afterwards, “We really liked this filly and we waited for her. She might end up going abroad, we have just sent Midnight Sands to Brendan Walsh in the U.S.”

Kodiac’s Good Week Continues
Anthony Stroud and Simon Crisford swooped for the top-priced son of Kodiac (GB) in the sale (lot 71), who was bought for Sheikh Duaij Al Khalifa for 300,000gns. The colt out of the unraced Sea The Stars (Ire) mare Life Of Pi (GB) had been bought at the December Sale for 125,000gns by Dromoland Farm and was offered by Roger Marley and John Cullinane of Church Farm & Horse Park Stud.

“He ticked all the boxes and vetted well,” said Stroud of the colt from the family of Derby entry Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). “It seems so long ago that I last bought a horse.”

Sheikh Duaij has previously enjoyed much success with breeze-up graduate A’Ali (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}), who won the G2 Norfolk S., G2 Prix Robert Papin and G2 Flying Childers S. and was also trained by Crisford.

Another of the day’s leading lots (53) looks likely to remain in Newmarket for the time being in the care of trainer Amy Murphy after Chris Dwyer and Victoria de Sousa went to 270,000gns to buy Grove Stud’s Kodiac colt out of Honeymead (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}).

“He’ll stay in Britain for now,” said de Sousa, who was also consigning horses later in the day at the Ascot Breeze-up Sale. “He’s a good strong colt and he’s been bought for a client of Chris who lives abroad.”

Bred on the same cross as the dual Group 1 winner Fairyland (Ire), the colt is a half-brother to the unbeaten 3-year-old High Accolade (Ire) (Outstrip {GB}), who won for the second time on Sunday.

The third Kodiac 2-year-old among the day’s top ten lots was lot 96, who was bred by his consignor Tally-Ho Stud and sold to Alex Elliott for 220,000gns. The colt out of the once-raced Cadeaux Genereux (GB) mare Najrann (GB) will race for a partnership from the stable of Archie Watson.

“He came highly recommended, Roger [O’Callaghan] told me of two horses in the early spring and this was one of them,” Elliott said. “I bought Setarhe (Ire) from Tally-Ho last year and she finished second in last week’s [G3] Albany Stakes. Kodiac had a great Royal Ascot and is the sire on everyone’s lips.”

Freshman Sires In Demand
Shalaa (Ire) and Twilight Son (GB) both have their first runners on the track at present and a member of each of their debut crops featured in the day’s top ten.

Breeder Toby Barker offered his Shalaa colt through Malcolm Bastard as lot 68 and was rewarded with a final bid of 250,000gns from Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock.

“This horse did an exceptional breeze, in every way—visually, and on time and stride,” said Brown, who added that the colt will be trained by Simon Crisford. “Shalaa has made a good start, we like the stallion. His runners so far look as though they are going to seven-furlong or miling types. This mare has done it already.”

The mare Lauren Louise (GB) (Tagula {Ire}) has indeed been a star for Barker. Her two best offspring are Blaine (GB) (Avonbridge {GB}), winner of the G2 Gimcrack S. in 2012, and Bogart (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}), whose four wins include the listed Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy.

“We were not sure coming into today,” said Bastard. “He came to me in January and has always worked well.”

The colt’s breeder added, “He was a bit backward, so we decided to wait. Malcolm has done a great job. The mare has been phenomenal for us and I just try to keep out of her way.”

The Twilight Son filly (lot 67) was one of a pair of expensive purchases by John and Jake Warren and was bought for Highclere’s Bermuda Thoroughbred Racing.

“Twilight Son has been going okay and we hope that this horse will be his flagbearer,” said Jake Warren.

Bred by Powerstown Stud, a regular name on the breeze-up consignors’ list, the half-sister to Group 3-placed Naseem Sea (Ire) (Bahri) was bought for €67,000 as a foal by Tally-Ho Stud.

The Warrens also went to 250,000gns for a colt by Siyouni (Fr), who was offered as lot 80 by the partnership of Longways Stables and Star Bloodstock. An expensive yearling pinhook at 220,000gns, he is the first foal of the G3 Dick Poole Fillies’s S. runner-up Marsh Hawk (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and will now race in the colours of Isa Salman Al Khalifa.

“He is by a top sire and out of a brilliant racemare, and he is a very exciting prospect,” said Warren, who added that the colt would be trained by Richard Hannon.

Chairman Praises Vendors’ Commitment
Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony was looking forward to the easing of travel restrictions which would simplify conditions for potential buyers at the Guineas and July Sale next month but was nevertheless encouraged by the level of international participation at the Craven Sale, particularly via the company’s online platform.

He said, “First and foremost we would like to pay tribute to each and every individual who has worked so hard to make sure that the 2020 Craven Breeze-up Sale took place under almost normal conditions, albeit more than two months later than intended. In particular, we should recognise the patience and commitment of the breeze-up consignors who have worked with us every step of the way and have adapted to the challenges that the global pandemic has thrown at people in every walk of life. None of us can pretend that the past few months have been easy, but in these times of adversity it has been even more pleasing than usual to see so many of the consignors well rewarded. A clearance rate of 83%, an average price nudging 100,000 guineas and a top-priced colt matching last year’s highest-priced colt, are very respectable statistics and reflect the outstanding professionalism of the breeze-up consignors who, as ever, brought a fine collection of two-year-olds to the Craven Breeze-up Sale.”

Mahony continued, “We should equally recognise the huge contribution made by today’s purchasers. They have yet again demonstrated the enduring appetite for quality European thoroughbreds and the esteem in which the Craven breeze-up is held. Even in these extraordinary times we have had buyers active from all corners of the world, including Australia, Bahrain, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Qatar and Spain, and the domestic demand has also exceeded expectations. Obviously the highlight was Johnny Collins’ spectacular pinhooking triumph with his outstanding 575,000 guineas sale-topping Night Of Thunder colt, but there were numerous other success stories and we can be confident that there will be plenty of 2020 Craven Breeze-up graduates performing at the highest level.”

He added, “We are expecting international travel restrictions to be eased in the near future, which will be a great relief and, as we look forward to the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up and July Sale, it has also been encouraging to see the new internet bidding facility being widely used by buyers at all levels of the market. We have done our best to explore every possible way for buyers to participate at our sales in these unusual times and it has clearly been well received.”

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