Premier Sale Ends On A High

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The sale-topping Harry Angel colt | Sarah Farnsworth

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DONCASTER, UK–Any fears that a reduced catalogue and lack of high-end Maktoum participation could lead to a soft market at the Goffs UK Premier Sale were firmly quashed as the auction came to a close on Wednesday in Doncaster with a set of results that compared favourably with the pre-Covid era.

At 366 lots, Goffs UK compiled a catalogue that was 8.5% smaller than last year. Yet in a testament to the quality of horse on offer, not to mention the appetite of buyers on the ground, the sale returned an aggregate of £13,334,000, up 18% from 2020. The average also rose by 20% to £40,907, while particularly impressive was the clearance rate of 89%.

A total of 13 yearlings made six figures headed by a first-crop son of Darley's Harry Angel (Ire) (lot 296), who provided a fine advert for his young sire by selling for £220,000 on Wednesday to agent Alex Elliott.

Goffs UK Managing Director Tim Kent was understandably delighted with the level of trade.

“The Premier Sale is back on track,” he said. “Last year's sale endured its own Covid-related challenges but, with the help of a very loyal band of vendors and purchasers, we've seen a remarkable trade over the two days and proved to everyone that 2020 was a one-year blip due to circumstances beyond anyone's control. The car park has been overflowing since Sunday morning and the footfall of genuine buyers has been incredible. There has been a real buzz around the sales complex over the last few days and it's great that this has resulted in trade which started well yesterday, finished strong last night, and kicked on again today.

“The impressive 89% clearance rate shows the demand for Premier yearlings is as strong as ever. The fact that the 13 six-figure yearlings were purchased by 11 different buyers demonstrates the diversity of the buying bench associated with this sale whilst our policy of going 'back to the future' when selecting the traditional 'Donny yearling' has clearly proved popular with buyers.

“We've said this before but it is never more relevant than today; we simply cannot do this without our clients. Without them, we are nothing and we would like to thank all of our vendors for putting their faith in the Goffs UK team. We are absolutely delighted that this loyalty has been well rewarded, and we wish all purchasers the best of luck with their new racehorses. We are already looking forward to next year, when we will see the next star graduates emerge, and build again on two great days in Doncaster.”

His views were echoed by Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock.

“I think it's a fantastic trade,” said the agent, who signed for two six-figure lots. “I've been involved on the selling side with vendors as well and there's been some fantastic sales. Lots of horses are changing hands. It's great to see and good on Doncaster.”

The £220,000 sale-topper will be trained by Clive Cox after Alex Elliott saw off Oliver St Lawrence to sign on behalf of an undisclosed client. Offered by Houghton Bloodstock, the colt was bred by Cheveley Park Stud and descends from one of their most successful families as a son of listed winner Red Box (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), herself a daughter of the stud's G1 Prix de Diane heroine Confidential Lady (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}).

“I am delighted to buy him, first and foremost because he's an exceptional individual, but also because Mr and Mrs Thompson and Chris Richardson have been extremely supportive of me–I was able to buy A Plus Tard for them,” said Elliott. “So I'm very happy to be able to buy one from Cheveley Park Stud.

“He's by one of the best horses that this sale ring has ever seen and out of a very fast mare. He also vetted perfectly and watching him in the back ring, it was like men against boys.

“You could see all the breeze-up boys on him and they're the best in the business with the fast ones. But when you get into the end-user territory, then it can thin out a bit.

“He's for a new client and with the passing of Sheikh Hamdan, who was such an influential figure within the industry, and especially at this sale, we felt there was a bit of a gap in the market. We were all out at the end but we're pretty excited. Hopefully there will be a photo of him outside on the wall here this time next year.”

Red Box was trained by Sir Mark Prescott to win three races, including the 2016 Listed Valiant S. at Ascot. Her first foal, Secret Box (GB) (Le Havre {Fr}), is also a winner this year and rated 81 for the Newmarket trainer while her 2-year-old by Pivotal (GB) is in training with Martyn Meade.

“I bought his third dam Confidante as a yearling and it's a family that has done us proud,” said the stud's managing director Chris Richardson. “Confidential Lady provided Mr and Mrs Thompson with a great thrill when she won the Prix de Diane. This colt is a bonny horse by a first-season sire that we thought would be a nice one to send to Doncaster. Mentally he's very sound and what I really liked about him was how he thrived from the moment prep started.”

Top sprinter Harry Angel is one of the most celebrated graduates of the Premier Sale, having sold for £44,000 to Clive Cox at the 2015 edition, and with a sale-topping transaction in the books, it was appropriate that he should reign as the auction's leading first-crop stallion thanks to five yearlings who sold for an average of £92,000.

Star for Fitzgerald

From an investment of just 10,000gns in the Bated Breath (GB) mare Under Offer (Ire), Alice Fitzgerald and Michael Doyle were able to reap excellent rewards on Wednesday in the sale of a homebred Starspangledbanner (Aus) filly (lot 381) for £160,000 to M V Magnier.

The filly is the first foal out of the mare, a half-sister to listed winner Bayargal (Bernstein) who was purchased by the pair through SJ Leahy Bloodstock at the 2018 Tattersalls July Sale.

“We'd had our eyes on the mare for a while and we were able to buy her,” said Fitzgerald, whose select draft also included a £55,000 first-crop son of Kessaar (Ire). “We actually tried to sell her later on at Tattersalls but luckily she didn't sell. This filly is a good first foal and it helps that Starspangledbanner is having an excellent season. The mare isn't that big so I think he has put a bit of strength into this filly.”

The filly was the sole purchase made during the two days by Magnier. Speaking on behalf of the Coolmore team, its UK representative Kevin Buckley said, “She was a lovely filly, a very good first foal, and all the team loved her.”

Tally-Ho On Top

The sale of a Kodiac (GB) colt for £210,000 sealed an excellent sale for vendor Tally-Ho Stud, who wound up as leading vendor thanks to 20 yearlings who turned over £1,188,000. The star act was lot 359, a homebred colt out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Stunner (GB) for whom Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock outbid Alex Elliott on behalf of Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum.

The owner has horses in training with an array of British trainers and this colt is set to join Richard Fahey, who sent out Perfect Power (GB)–a grandson of Kodiac–to win Sunday's G1 Prix Morny in the colours of Sheikh Juma's younger brother Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum.

“Obviously Sheikh Juma's brother, Sheikh Rashid, had a good weekend and so he wanted to find a nice colt to go to Richard,” said Brown. “We ran through them here with Richard and we both fell on this colt–he's a smasher. He comes from a top-class farm, he's an early foal, he looks forward and then you have the Pivotal mare. It was further than we thought we would have to go but he was the one horse we really wanted in the sale and we're delighted to get him.”

Bred on the same Kodiac-Pivotal cross as Group 1 winner Fairyland, the colt is the first foal out of Stunner, who was purchased to join Tally-Ho for 77,000gns as an unnamed 3-year-old at the Tattersalls July Sale in 2018. The mare is out of listed winner Adonesque (Ire) (Sadler's Wells), also granddam of the G2 Coventry S. hero Buratino (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), and from the further family of influential sire Danehill Dancer (Ire) (Danehill).

As for Sheikh Rashid, he did not come away empty-handed, acting through Brown to invest £100,000 in a colt by Perfect Power's sire Ardad (Ire) from Whatton Manor Stud. As with the Kodiac colt, he will be trained by Richard Fahey.

Brown is well placed to appreciate Ardad better than most having purchased the horse as a Doncaster breezer back in 2016 in addition to his flag-bearing son Perfect Power as a 2-year-old in the same ring in April.

“Ed [Player of Whatton Manor Stud] rang me a couple of weeks ago to say he'd just had a belter of an Ardad walk into the yard,” said Brown. “My ears pricked up and obviously Ed was right–he's a smashing colt, very athletic and with a great temperament, something that we're seeing coming through a lot with the Ardads. And he comes from very good breeders. So it all added up. He was hard enough to buy though–we had to outbid a very good judge in Clive Cox.”

The colt was bred by Mick and Fiona Denniff–of Beat The Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}) and Kachy (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}) fame–out of their homebred mare Pigeon Point (GB). He is the second foal out of his unraced dam, who is a half-sister to three minor winners and from the further family of GI Travers S. winner Alpha (Bernardini).

The Denniffs have managed the first two generations of this family but it was only by a quirk of fate that Pigeon Point remained in their ownership, as Fiona Denniff explained.

“I bred the mare and when she was a yearling, something frightened them in a field and she was the first one to get out,” said the Nottinghamshire-based breeder. “She jumped two gates–despite being Flat-bred–and hurt herself so she never raced.”

She added: “We've been very lucky with Ardad. I went to look at him when he came to the sales to parade and thought then that he was a lovely individual, and one who would suit a number of my mares. So I actually bought a breeding right in him. We loved this colt from day one. He's very easy to deal with, very relaxed, and Ed and his team have done a marvellous job with him.”

Returning To The Well

Hopes that lightning would strike twice ran high following the sale of lot 268, a Dandy Man (Ire) filly, to Peter and Ross Doyle. It was at this sale two years ago that the father and son duo plucked a daughter of the same stallion for £25,000 out of the draft belonging to Jimmy Murphy's Redpender Stud. It has since proven to be money exceptionally well spent with the filly in question, Happy Romance (Ire), going on to win the G3 Dick Poole and Hackwood S. in addition to the 2020 Weatherbys Super Sprint and the Goffs UK Premier Yearling S. for Richard Hannon.

Yesterday, the Doyles returned to source for another daughter of the stallion, a filly out of Nuclear Option (Ire) who blossomed from a €29,000 foal into a £135,000 yearling.

“If she's as good as Happy Romance, that will be ok,” said Ross Doyle after outbidding Joe Foley. “She's for a good owner in the yard.

“We've been very lucky buying off Redpender before–we bought [G1 winners] Canford Cliffs and Toormore here off them in the past. We thought she was the pick of the fillies here. She really stands out. She's just a bit different, very mature–she looks right now like a 2-year-old going on three.”

The filly was making her second trip through the ring, having been picked up by Redpender for €29,000 as a Goffs November foal. Bred by John Grogan's Milestream Stud, she is the first foal out of her placed dam, a Frozen Power (Ire) half-sister to the listed-placed Danielsflyer (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}) who descends from Daniel Wildenstein's champion mare All Along (Fr) (Targowice {USA}).

“We were very lucky with Happy Romance,” said Murphy. “This was a lovely filly bred by a very good breeder, John Grogan. She was lovely the day we bought her and did everything right for us.”

Overall, it was a very productive sale for the Doyles as the purchasers of 16 yearlings for a total of £1,032,000, enough to place them at the head of the buyer standings.

Successful Day for Ballyhimikin

It was also a good day for James Hanly's Ballyhimikin Stud, which sold three colts for an average of £95,000.

Leading the way was lot 244, a second-crop son of Ribchester (Ire) who caught the imagination of Richard Hughes, so much so that the trainer was happy to stretch to £125,000 to secure the youngster on spec.

By a stallion who has sired ten first-crop winners to date, he was bred by Joseph Stewart Investments out of the placed Miracle Dictu (Ire) (King's Best {USA}), whose four winners include the Listed-placed Tres Belle (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}).

“We've done the rounds for two days and I thought he was the nicest horse here,” said Hughes. “I fell in love with him–he has great movement to him and he's a big, strong horse. He's going to be fine horse. I own him myself at the moment and there'll be a few sleepless nights but I couldn't help myself.”

He added: “I don't have any in training by Ribchester at the moment but I bought another by the sire yesterday, a colt for £28,000. You could see at the breeze-ups that they're big, fine horses, quite like him, and I think he's doing well.”

Breeder Trevor Stewart was watching on from Deauville and was understandably delighted with the result.

“He's the first yearling I've sold this year and I'm delighted,” he said. “I think this was the nicest individual that Mirabile Dictu had produced. He's a cracking, big, long-striding horse. We bred the dam and I bought her out of the partnership and put her in training. She was placed a couple of times and has done ok as a broodmare. Her daughter Tres Belle got black-type and now I have her first foal, Tortuguero, in training in France, and he's won this year too. It's a nice family that gets plenty of winners.”

Hanly and Stewart later combined to sell a Fast Company (Ire) half-brother to the listed-placed Snazzy (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) for £80,000 to agent Armando Duarte.

Silver Linings

As a successful Premier Sale was consigned to the books at Goffs UK, another 69 yearlings comprising the Silver Sale catalogue were ushered straight into the ring for a final session of trade conducted at a more modest level.

Of that number, 47 horses were sold, with the average and median figures closely aligned at £8,830 and £8,000, respectively. A further £415,000 was added to the day's takings.

The session's leading light, as in the Premier Sale, was a yearling colt by a Darley sire, this one a colt registered as black, by Brazen Beau (Aus), and offered as lot 404.

Sarah Fanning, the wife of leading jockey Joe Fanning, is a relative newcomer to the scene as a consignor but she is an accomplished horsewoman and the £30,000 attained for the half-brother to four winners, including Topmeup (GB) (Mayson {GB}), was a considerable mark up on his foal price of 5,000gns.

Fanning consigned the colt on behalf of his pinhooker Vanessa Thompson. Bred by Whitwell Bloodstock, his dam Ambrix (Ire) (Xaar {GB}) is a half-sister to GII Del Mar Mile H. winner Ferneley (Ire) (Ishiguru) from the family of G1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Just The Judge (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}).

With last year's Silver Sale having been merged with the Autumn Sale, it is hard to draw direct comparisons, and in 2019 more than double the number of yearlings were offered when 160 came under the hammer. But in that pre-Covid sale, the average, at £8,094, was slightly below that set on Wednesday in Doncaster, and the median was just £5,500. A mixture of relief and satisfaction can be drawn from a distinctly buoyant two days of trade in Yorkshire to get the British yearlings sales off to a decent start.

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