'Potentially A Royal Ascot Filly' – Deja Vu At Doncaster With Top Talent On Show

Gary de Souza and Sally Nagle of Gary Bloodstock | Brian Sheerin

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DONCASTER, UK–What a difference a year can make. It was at this sale 12 months ago when Gary de Souza left us poor scribes befuddled. Consigning under the imaginatively-named Gary Bloodstock [!], his Sioux Nation filly, who would later go on to be the Group-placed Gunzburg (Ire), rocked the clock before being knocked down to trainer Paddy Twomey and bloodstock agent Mark McStay for £160,000. 

But where was de Souza when it came to getting a quote on Gunzburg, who could conceivably be described as a life-changing filly in the Brazilian native's debut draft? The answer was half way to Osarus in France to get ready for another breeze-up sale. 

But that's only half the story. While de Souza was busy preparing two-year-old talent, his partner Sally Nagle was back home in Ireland giving birth to their first son, Jack, leaving his father-in-law to man the ship in Doncaster. 

A lot has changed since Gunzburg put Gary Bloodstock in lights last year but, in many ways, some things remain the same as de Souza and Nagle-who are on the sales ground this week-have sent another fast filly to Doncaster. 

By Dandy Man (Ire), lot 30 scorched her way up the Doncaster turf in the breeze on Tuesday morning, and is undoubtedly going to be popular when selling gets underway at 10am on Wednesday. Bought for just €10,000 from Egmont Stud at Goffs Orby Book 2, the Dandy Man filly looks set to spearhead Gary Bloodstock's three-strong draft at the Goffs Breeze-Up Sale. 

A shy de Souza said, “I was in Osarus this time last year and Sally was at home giving birth to our first baby. Last year was my first year breezing horses. I had worked for a lot of people before that–Katie McGivern and John Cullinan gave me my start.”

He added, “Since I have come to Ireland, breezing horses has been the thing I have loved the most. I didn't have a chance to start my own breeze-up business until last year but thankfully it has worked out well.”

That might be a bit of an understatement. While the couple exceeded all expectations with Gunzburg last year, they kept their heads when the yearling sales rolled back around, with the Dandy Man filly being a prime example of their astute approach to recruiting stock. 

Sally explained, “We didn't go crazy after we got the money for Gunzburg. The Dandy Man filly only cost €10,000 at Goffs last year. We bought her off Paula Flannery of Egmont Stud and thought she looked nice and racy. She breezed very well and we're hoping to see Paddy Twomey again!”

This is not just a one-horse draft. The Sergei Prokofiev [lot 65] colt also ranked highly on the unofficial time sheets while the Without Parole (GB) colt [70] showed ability as well. 

Sally continued, “It's actually Jack's first birthday tomorrow. I'm from Tipperary but we are based in Westmeath. We've 10 breezers this year and, like I said, they were all bought at small money. They're all ready to run.”

Like de Souza, Danny O'Donovan is not a man who goes out looking for attention. However, when the only two horses you bring to Doncaster clock the fastest and the second fastest, it's hard to go unnoticed. 

O'Donovan Bloodstock's King Of Change (GB) filly out of Dawn Approach (Ire) mare Evie Speed (Ire) and Sioux Nation filly out of Dancing Around (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}) completed the forecast on many of the unofficial times published on Tuesday. That's not to say that such an achievement came as a surprise to the County Cork native. 

O'Donovan said, “Coming here I thought that they would clock in the top 30 and I'm just happy that they have matched their work at home. They both showed a great attitude and you couldn't ask for much better.”

He added, “We were keen to buy a Sioux Nation at the sales last year as he doesn't have many two-year-olds to run for him this year. But, look, the stallion speaks for himself and this filly's full-sister [Dance Sioux (Ire)] is quite a good filly in France. 

“As for the King Of Change, we actually bought three yearlings by him last year-we just kept landing on them. Anyone who has asked me, I have been advising them to send a mare to him.”

If de Souza, Nagle and O'Donovan might be new names to some, there was no mistaking the face of former trainer Harry Whittington, who on Tuesday sent out his first breeze-up horse in the shape of lot 55, a filly by Kodi Bear (Ire).

Explaining his decision to get involved in the breeze-up game, Whittington, who enjoyed huge success as a National Hunt trainer with horses like Saint Calvados (Fr) (Saint Des Saints {Fr}) and Rouge Vif (Fr) (Sageburg {Ire}), said, “We've got three horses to breeze this year and she is the first. We have two colts to breeze at the Guineas Sale next week. We enjoy the process and have been very fortunate to have had a helping hand from Mark Grant. He has shown me the ropes with regards to some of the different gallops to use in Lambourn.”

He added, “I learned the ropes from Malcolm Bastard almost 20 years ago now. I spent a good few years with Malcolm and always enjoyed bringing along young horses with him. I then set up my own pre-training business before I went training and it was always in the back of my mind to do the breeze-ups when I gave up training. We've combined it with buying a few stores to go pointing, pre-training and working as an overflow for other yards so it's been great. It's been a very busy winter but we have been enjoying it. It's definitely something I'd like to do more of.”

Breezing horses has underpinned Irish trainer Kevin Coleman's business for the best part of two decades now. He has had plenty of good horses through his hands and, in lot 145, a filly by Starspangledbanner (Aus), the Slievebrook House operator thinks he has another. 

One of the most upwardly-mobile trainers either side of the Irish Sea, Coleman operates at an impressive 31% strike-rate in Britain but maintains that his base in Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary will remain a selling yard until he wins the lottery. 

“I have been breezing horses for about 20 years,” he explained. “It was always easy to get the lower grade horses into a breeze-up sale and then get them sold but it has become increasingly difficult to do that in the past few years as the standard has risen so much. The horses I was left with from the breeze-ups are the ones that got me started on the racetrack. 

“We started with two that didn't sell at the breeze-ups in 2017 and obviously they won a couple of races and then the training aspect of the thing snowballed from there but I have always been a selling yard. I have sold some good horses at the breeze-up sales. I sold a good filly in 2018, Belcarra (Ire), who went to Germany and won a Group 3 for Markus Klug. I sold a horse here a couple of years ago and that won five races for Tim Easterby as well.”

Coleman added, “Basically, my game is trading. Even the horses on the track, anything that runs well, they're all sold. We sold two horses to Joseph O'Brien last year-Uluru (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Bladon (Ire) (Churchill {Ire})–that ran in maidens and both horses hold fancy entries. I need them to go on and be good. It's important for business that the horses you sell go on and be good for the next man because then they will keep coming back. A lot of these horses, I own a big share in them. The costs involved in running and maintaining a racing yard is huge so it's important to trade to keep the whole thing going.”

So where does the Starspangledbanner filly rank?

“She's always worked the best of our earlier two-year-olds and I think she showed that there in the breeze. She could potentially be a Royal Ascot filly.”

And that is the name of the game. This sale has been the source for nine Royal Ascot winners in the past eight years. The search is on for the next.

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