Somerville Soars As Zoustar Filly Leads The Charge

The sale-topping Zoustar filly from Plantation Stud | Tattersalls/Laura Green


NEWMARKET, UK–There are plenty of troubling stories out in the big wide world at the moment, but buyers at the yearling sales so far this season appear not to be concerned or affected by a cost-of-living-crisis, with the Tattersalls Somerville Sale the latest to benefit from a boom in demand for young stock.

The Somerville is only in its second year but it has already been pegged as an important fixture in the run of yearling sales and the 2022 renewal posted huge gains in all sectors. Four six-figure lots compared to just one last year, and an increase from 17 yearlings making 50,000gns or more this time last year to 39, meant that the median rose by 60% to 26,000gns, and the average by 42% to 30,377gns. The clearance rate also improved on a string start last year and settled at 88%, while at 7,746,200gns, the turnover was up by 56%.

The only trouble this newcomer to the auction calendar could face is balancing the desire by a number of participants for it to remain in its one-day format with what is likely to be a rise in demand for places. This time around 290 horses were offered from an original catalogue of 313, and from a 10 a.m. start, trading continued for 11 hours until the final yearling left the ring just after 9 p.m. It was a long day for most people involved in the sale, but the 'one and done' aspect of the Somerville remains of appeal in an increasingly condensed calendar. This week alone there are sales taking place in Newmarket, Doncaster, Deauville and at Yorton Farm in Wales within the space of four days.


Select Plantation Draft Makes a Splash

For Plantation Stud it was in a sense a case of 'if at first you don't succeed'. Last December at the foal sale, the stud took home a Zoustar (Aus) filly and Shalaa (Ire) colt, knocked down to vendor for 18,000gns and 20,000gns, respectively. Returned to the ring as yearlings on Tuesday, it was a markedly different story, however, as the Newmarket farm accounted for two of the four six-figure yearlings on the day.

Leading all-comers was the daughter of Zoustar (lot 213), the recipient of a boost from her half-brother Unanimous Consent (GB) (Almanzor {Fr}), who has won and been fourth in a Grade II in America this season, and was set to run on Tuesday night in the GIII Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. But she had also grown into an imposing individual in the intervening nine months, persuading Richard Hughes to stretch to 160,000gns to secure her for his burgeoning team of yearling purchases this year.

Hughes, a former multiple champion jockey himself, calls on another champion of the jumps division, the legendary AP McCoy, to break in his yearlings. “They don't mess with him,” he said with a laugh.

“She'll take a bit of time but we'll see how her brother gets on tonight. If he wins tonight then she's half-price. I'd say he's a 115 [rated] horse.”

The filly has Australian sires on both sides of her pedigree as her twice-raced dam Fast Lily (Ire) is by Fastnet Rock (Aus) and is a half-sister to two classy fillies in the G2 Lowther S. winner Silk Blossom (Ire) and G3 Prix de la Porte de Maillot victrix Mashoora (Ire), both by Barathea (Ire).

James Berney, who manages Plantation Stud for Michael O'Leary, said of the sale's top lot, “We are over the moon, she deserves to make that type of money and she has improved greatly through the year. Her brother's form has helped as well.

“We are delighted she is going to Richard Hughes and it's great for the mare. She has a Showcasing (GB) foal at and she is in foal to Pinatubo (Ire).”

He added, “There has been a bit of motion with this sale and we thought we'd bring along horses who might stand out a bit.”

Just an hour earlier, Plantation Stud's Shalaa colt (lot 188) had gone through the ring, fetching a final bid of 120,000gns from Oliver St Lawrence.

“He is for Fawzi [Nass] and team and will probably end up in the red and white colours of Victorious Racing,” said the agent while sitting next to Archie Watson, who trains the G2 Coventry S. winner and last year's Somerville Sale graduate Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}) for the same connections.

St Lawrence added, “The mare is two from two [winners] and they are both rated up in the 90s. I think he will be going to Archie.”

Watson also issued an update on Bradsell, who is recuperating from an injury sustained in the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. and will be aimed next spring at a Commonwealth Cup trial.

The Shalaa colt's winning dam Dream Dana (Ire) (Dream Ahead) has produced the multiple winners Operatic (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) and Dynamic Force (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and is a daughter of the dual Group 3 winner Lidanna (GB) (Nicholas). The immediate family includes the Group 1-winning sprinter Wizz Kid (Ire) (Whipper), a son of Dream Dana's half-sister Lidanski (Ire) (Soviet Star).



Aughamore Strike With Mehmas Colt

Nobody in the bloodstock world really needed a reminder that Mehmas (Ire) is one of the most promising young sires to have burst onto the scene in recent years, but it never hurts for a stallion to have a Group 1 winner just prior to a sale. Minzaal (Ire) gave his Tally-Ho Stud-based sire, or more accurately those consignors with one of his yearlings to sell, a timely boost with his G1 Sprint Cup victory at Haydock, and it was a win that underlined that there is more to just speed and precocity when it comes to Mehmas. The speed is there for sure, and we saw just how precocious his stock can be when members of his first crop helped Mehmas set a new European record when becoming champion freshman sire. But far more importantly, his stock appear to thrive on their racing, as exemplified by the 4-year-old Minzaal, who also happens to be a former Gimcrack winner.

Laurence Gleeson of Aughamore Stud was one of those beneficiaries, selling a homebred colt (lot 163) to Ross Doyle and Robson Aguiar for 135,000gns. Out of the winning Exceed And Excel (Aus) mare Classic Image (GB), who was bought by Gleeson as a 3-year-old for 6,500gns, the colt will be trained by Richard Hannon, who also trained Mehmas.

“Mehmas needs no introduction, and the farm has done a great job prepping him, he looks fantastic,” said Doyle. “He is a good mover, and Mehmas has already been a very good friend to a lot of people.”

Gleeson added, “We sent the mare to Mehmas just as he was just about to have his first 2-year-olds, and we heard there were some good breezers. We took a punt and it has worked out.

“This colt has been a star here everyone was saying that he was a stand-out. You don't want to get your hopes up but it has all worked out in the end.”


Hannon will also take charge of another Ross Doyle purchase (lot 126), a filly by Kodiac (GB), bought for 70,000gns and whose ownership group will include one of the owners of Australian superstar Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}). Adrian Whittingham and his son Darcy of the New South Wales-based Honeycomb Stud already have horses in training in the UK, including the twice-placed juvenile Tellus (GB) with John Quinn, who previously trained Deny Knowledge (Ire) for the same partnership before the daughter of Pride Of Dubai (Aus) was transferred to Michael Kent in Australia. The Whittinghams' trip to Europe to watch Verry Elleegant run at Longchamp on Sunday also provided time for a Tattersalls shopping trip.

Doyle said, “She has been bought to go to Richard Hannon for partnership of Honeycomb Stud in Australia and one of our clients will take half. They are happy to race here, but if they think the horses might be more effective Down Under they will ship. A broodmare pedigree is a big bonus down the line.”

The Kodiac filly, who was consigned by her breeder Tally-Ho Stud, is a granddaughter of the G1 Irish Oaks winner Winona (Ire) (Alzao) and from the further family of the multiple Grade I winner Stella Madrid (Alydar).


Teme Valley Hoping For Another Star

A striking chestnut son of Starspangledbanner (Aus) turned plenty of heads, but it was Richard Ryan who has the most staying power in the bidding battle to secure the Ballyhimikin Stud-consigned colt (lot 147) who had been bought as a foal for €62,000. That sum was more than doubled by the time the hammer fell at 130,000gns, and Ryan had plenty of extra encouragement in ensuring that he was bought for Teme Valley Racing, who, until the end of last season had campaigned Starspangledbanner's outstanding son State Of Rest (Ire).

“He was a slightly unexpected type of horse to find this horse in this sale, a different ball game than the rest of the field, I thought,” said the agent. “He's a good strong Starspangledbanner colt with a good backside on him. He is from a real speed family and will make a lovely 2-year-old. He is a proper horse, and would be in any sale.”

A son of the Bahamian Bounty (GB) mare Black Rodded (GB) and a half-brother to three multiple winners, the colt is a great grandson of the fast dual listed winner Palace Street, who later found fame as the dam of G1 July Cup winner Sakhee's Secret (GB). The family has been boosted recently by the G3 Coral Charge win of Raasel (GB), who is out of a half-sister to Black Rodded.

Vendor James Hanly of Ballyhimikin Stud said, “It is a great venue and everyone is here. It is a very good format as a one-day sale–people can get in and have plenty of time to see them over the weekend.”

He added, “It's a strong market and I'm very pleased with that price. The sire has had such a good year, there has been a big uplift in the stallion. Let's hope this colt goes on and wins lots of good races; it is a good way to start the yearling sale season.”

Hanly's positive start to the season continued its good run later in the session when he sold a Zoffany (Ire) filly for breeder Sven Hanson for 75,000gns to Grant Pritchard-Gordon of Badgers Bloodstock.

Lot 268 hails from the family of Group 1 winner and late dual-purpose sire Poliglote (GB) and is out of the Reliable Man (GB) mare Kiss Me Daily (Fr), who is a half-sister to Australian Group 1 winner I'm Your Man (Fr) (Cape Cross {Ire}) and to the dam of five-time group-winning stayer Called To The Bar (Ire) (Henrythenavigator).



Following in the Footsteps of Malakahna

Footstepsinthesand (GB) may now be a veteran of the stallion ranks but he can still come up with a sales horse and lot 189, Knockatrina House's half-brother to listed winner and Group 3-placed Alakhana (Fr) (Dalakhani {Ire}), was a case in point. One of four yearlings by the Coolmore sire in the sale, he sold for 90,000gns to Ben Brookhouse, who said, “He's a good walker with good scope. He's not too big and not too small and has a lovely attitude.

Brookhouse, who works with successful dual-purpose trainer Ian Williams, is already familiar with the family through Alakhana's daughter Malakhana (Fr), who won a Grade 3 fillies' hurdle for the Williams stable at Cheltenham in April.

“She's a hardy mare. If he's half as good as her he'll be alright,” Brookhouse added.

Bred by Canice Farrell, the dark bay colt is a son of the listed-placed Dubai (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who was also a winner at two in Germany.


Middleham Park Return to Winning Formula

Middleham Park Racing teamed up with agent Ed Sackville to return to a successful formula. For the syndicate, the combination of the Somerville Sale plus Havana Grey has provided them with one of their stars of the season in Eddie's Boy (GB), the Weatherbys Super Sprint winner who has also twice been listed-placed and was a 45,000gns purchase from the inaugural sale.

One of their key selections of the day and the sale's early leader was Hillwood Stud's distinctive grey-spotted Havana Grey filly (lot 67), who brought the gavel down at 85,000gns.

“Obviously Havana Grey from this sale has been a recipe for us before so we have tried to repeat it,” said Middleham Park's Tom Palin of Middleham Park. “Obviously Havana Grey is a more established sire now than this time last year so we have had to pay more but this filly is from a family we have followed and we have bid on a couple [of her relatives] before.

“She is a good solid, nice-moving filly and the nicest Havana Grey we have seen here. She is a strong horse, too and we saw her on our own and then Ed put her to us. The stars were aligning, as such.”

Palin added that the filly would be trained by Hugo Palmer, who moved from Newmarket to Michael Owen's Manor Farm Stables in Cheshire at the beginning of the season.

“You could see her whipping around Chester in the Lily Agnes,” Palin said. “The Havana Greys are sound horses who keep running for you. We are really taken by them, we got a bit lucky that we stumbled on him at the right time and we threw plenty of Havana Grey darts at the board and come up with 180. They are good, honest horses and delighted to get another one.”

A half-sister to the 82-rated multiple winner and Group 3-placed Show Me Show Me (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), the filly was bred by Whitsbury Manor Stud, where her sire stands. She is a daughter of the six-time winner Springing Baroness (GB) (Bertolini) who is herself a half-sister to Showcasing's G2 Mill Reef S. winner Toocoolforschool (GB).



Major Result For Minor

The first foal of the winning George Vancouver mare Cirrus Minor (Fr) brought a smile to the face of breeder Zorka Wentworth when the filly by Bated Breath (GB) sold as lot 162 from the Norris Bloodstock draft to Oliver St Lawrence for 75,000gns.

A half-sister to the G1 Doomben Cup winner Pornichet (Fr) (Vespone {Ire}), Cirrus Minor is a permanent boarder at Jenny Norris's Redenham Park Stud and is now back in foal to Bated Breath.

“I'm chuffed to bits,” said Wentworth. “Jenny has done a great job and she seemed to be very popular. I put a good reserve on her because I was quite happy to keep her myself. Now I just need her to win because the mare has a gorgeous Time Test (GB) colt foal.”


Dunlop's Change of Direction

This time last year Harry Dunlop and Anthony Bromley of Highflyer Bloodstock went to a 12,000gns for a colt from the first crop of Tasleet (GB). Later resold at the Goffs UK Breeze-up for £47,000, that colt went on to win the G2 Coventry S. under the name of Bradsell (GB).

Dunlop was back at the Somerville Sale on Tuesday and bought a filly by Outstrip (GB) (lot 140) in partnership with his brother Ed for 20,000gns, and it is in this role we are more likely to see him in the future after he announced that he would be handing in his training licence at the end of the season.

“Thankfully I am stopping training on my own terms and my financial situation is in a good place and is all sorted out,” he said. “But I am very much keen still to be involved in the industry because I think it would be foolish to step away from it. I love the sales and I love racing and what I would love to do is manage some horses for a big client as well as doing some work at the sales.”

He continued, “I bought a filly with my brother today, which is something I have never done before. I really liked her and hopefully she will do well for Ed. Her sister Ardad's Great is entered in the G1 Cheveley Park S. and is trained by Jessie Harrington, so we are hoping that she could have a nice update.”

Dunlop, who trained French Group 1 winner Robin Of Navan (Fr), as well as Group 2 and Listed Derby Trial winner Knight To Behold (Ire) for American owner Neil Jones, is keen to expand on the international experience of his own training career as well as that gleaned through growing up in Arundel, where his father John trained successfully for decades.

“Dad was a big pioneer on the international circuit and I think was the first English trainer to have a runner in New Zealand and in the Japan Cup, and while I have been training I've had a lot of success in France,” he said.

“The international aspect of the business really interests me and over the last few years we have seen increased investment from overseas, especially from owners in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.”

He added, “I've also been helping Tom Ward at the sales, doing some spotting for him. It's fun working with another trainer and offering an opinion, and Tom is a guy going places. He had his first listed winner this season and lives close to my home in Lambourn.”


From the Somerville to October…

Reflecting on the Somerville Sale, which provided an extremely lively warm-up for Tattersalls' major yearling sale which gets underway in four weeks' time, chairman Edmond Mahony said, “Last year's inaugural Tattersalls Somerville Yearling Sale proved to be an immediate success and today's second renewal has made further significant progress with wide margin gains in all the key indicators of average, median and turnover, as well as a new record top price for a Somerville yearling of 160,000 guineas.

“It was very apparent as we were inspecting yearlings in the spring that there was genuine enthusiasm for our newest yearling sale from both British and Irish consignors and they have supported the fixture with exactly the profile of sharp, precocious, commercial yearlings which we were looking for. To see the average and median prices both rise by more than 40% and the sale turnover increase from under five million guineas to well in excess of seven million guineas demonstrates a sale of real vibrance from start to finish. Equally impressive has been a clearance rate nudging 90% and the number of yearlings selling for 50,000gns or more which has risen from 17 to 39 while six-figure transactions have increased from one to four.”

He added, “The sheer number of buyers here at Park Paddocks over the past few days is also a reflection of the racecourse success enjoyed by so many graduates of last year's sale, most notably the G2 Coventry S. winner Bradsell, and we look forward to similarly impressive results next year as well as to sustaining the momentum of today's sale into Books 1 to 4 of the forthcoming Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.”

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