The Major Talking Points From The Premier Yearling Sale At Doncaster

Eddie O'Leary: holding court at Doncaster | Sarah Farnsworth


The first major yearling sale of the autumn in Britain or Ireland, the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale provided entertainment from the beginning to the end, but most importantly, boasted impressive figures. Brian Sheerin was in attendance and discusses the major talking points from the sale.

Figures on the up

The team at Goffs UK could hardly have wished for a better start to the Premier Yearling Sale. The day one figures were off the charts. Of the 218 lots offered on Tuesday, 199 were sold, representing a clearance rate of 91%. 

The aggregate was up 28% to £8,954,500, the average rose 15% to £44,997 and the median climbed 27% to £38,000.

There were noticeably less people around the sales complex at Doncaster on day two. While the figures failed to match what took place on Tuesday, there were some impressive numbers recorded on Wednesday, with an 87% clearance rate on a day where the aggregate climbed 11% to £7,003,000. 

The average on Wednesday went up 0.5% while the median fell by 4% to £32,000. That came despite the fact that there was some late drama in the ring with three of the last seven lots making six figures. 

All told, the sale went well. Of the 406 yearlings catalogued, 363 were sold, translating to a clearance rate of 89%. The aggregate was up 20% to £15,987,500 while the average was up 8% and the median rose by 9%.

Big Results From Small Numbers For Fitzgerald

Alice Fitzgerald knows what she is doing. It was at the Premier Yearling Sale in 2021 when Fitzgerald sold her homebred Basil Martini (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}} out of 10,000gns purchase Under Offer (Bated Breath (GB) to MV Magnier for £160,000.

Fast forward 12 months and Fitzgerald, who never brings more than one or two to the sales, bagged another big pay-day by selling her Kodiac (GB) colt out of Night Queen (Ire) (Rip Van Winkle {Ire}) to Manor House Farm for £160,000. 

What's even more impressive about Fitzgerald? This isn't even her day job. 

John and Jess Dance Stock Up

Given John and Jess Dance bought six-time Group 1 winner Laurens (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) at this sale in 2016, it's only natural that the owners would have an affinity towards Doncaster, which was evident in the results. 

Under Manor House Stables, they signed for nine different yearlings at a total of £837,000, which was only bettered by the £1,162,000 that Peter and Ross Doyle spent across the two days on a whopping 17 different horses. 

However, of the top 10 spenders at the Premier Yearling Sale, nobody boasted a better average than John and Jess Dance. 

The couple spent an average of £93,000 on their nine lots, illustrating that they are seeking quality over quantity more so than ever before. 

High Praise From Doyle

Ross Doyle is renowned for being one of the best judges in the game. Along with his father Peter, he has sourced Mehmas, Barney Roy, Limato, Japan, Fairyland, Magna Grecia, Olympic Glory and much more. 

Therefore, when he praised Goffs for attracting the best bunch of yearlings that he has seen for some time, it reflected well on the quality of the sale.

Doyle signed for two of the top lots in the sale, a colt by New Bay (GB) [211] for £200,000 on day one, and a lovely Dark Angel (Ire) colt [251] the following day for the same figure. 

Grangemore signed for the Dark Angel colt at last year's Tattersalls December Foal Sales for 40,000gns and the sale to the Doyles, who didn't reveal where the horse would be trained, secured a tidy pinhooking profit. The New Bay colt will be trained by Richard Hannon. 

Two Top-Notch Pinhooks

There were a number of good pinhooks over the course of the sale but two stood out. The first was that of lot 21, a gorgeous Ten Sovereigns (Ire) filly that Jamie Railton bought for €26,000 off Ballybin Stud at the November Foal Sales at Goffs last year before selling to Richard Hughes for a cool £110,000 on Tuesday.

The second was an even greater piece of inspiration as Violet Hesketh and Mimi Wadham, who run WH Bloodstock, and transformed lot 171 from a €38,000 purchase back in February to a £120,000 yearling just six months later. 

A colt by Kuroshio (Aus), lot 171 was tipped to do well after a number of shrewd judges got him vetted and, in the end, he was knocked down to Mark McStay and it's understood the colt will be sent to Fozzy Stack to be trained. 

Kuroshio Holding His Own

Kuroshio has been around the world and back but this year represented the classy Australian's first crop of runners since he took up residency at Starfield Stud in 2020. After a slow start to the season, Dontspoilasale (Ire) has come along and won for the stallion in Ireland, and looks potentially progressive, while Jessica Harrington's Panic Alarm (Ire) should be winning races for the stallion when he gets softer ground conditions. 

All told, anyone who has backed Kuroshio will be a lot happier now than ever before as last week's figures were respectable. Away from the headline-maker, lot 171, the Baroda Stud-drafted filly [lot 258] also secured a solid sale for the stallion, and changed hands to join John and Jess Dance for £48,000. All four yearlings by the stallion were sold. 

Force Behind Highclere Stallion

Some will argue that Land Force (Ire) is riding the crest of a No Nay Never wave, and that may have been an entirely plausible summation of the situation had his yearlings not been so impressive in the flesh. 

Top judges Clive Cox-who went to £85,000 to secure lot 71-and Oliver St Lawrence bought progeny by the stallion. Some of the best in the breeze-up business, Katie Walsh, Longways Stables and Con Marnane, also rowed in behind Land Force this week. 

Jake Warren even tipped the Highclere-based stallion for first-season sire honours and, while there is a lot of water to pass under that particular bridge, the early signs are promising for anyone with a Land Force in their stable. 

Of the 17 offered this week, 14 were sold at an aggregate of £510,000, which averaged out at £36,429.

Noteworthy Buyers

A number of top agents, trainers and breeze-up buyers relayed how footfall had increased at the sale and, as a result, it was going to be even harder to smoke out a bargain. 

Well, buyers also had to contend with major competition from afar as Wesley Ward also got in on the action, signing for lot 200, a Lynn Lodge-consigned £82,000 daughter of US Navy Flag. 

Ward is clearly a fan of the stallion and why wouldn't he be? The Patrick Grogan-bred Love Reigns (Ire), whose only defeat in three starts for the American-based trainer, came when she finished fourth in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot. Time will tell if Ward has bagged himself another Royal Ascot filly. 

It should be said that, for all that Eddie O'Leary has a host of international clients, he still made time for his neighbour at Goffs. At one point in the afternoon on Wednesday, Nick Nugent on the rostrum announced, 'from one corner of Mullingar to the other,' when Roger O'Callaghan of Tall-Ho purchased a Mehmas colt [lot 349] for £45,000 off his fellow Westmeath native. 

O'Leary's Lynn Lodge Stud ended proceedings with 11 yearlings sold for £677,000 at an average of £61,545, making the operation the fifth most successful across the two days. 

Tally-Ho Dominate

It was an excellent sale for Tally-Ho. Not only was the stud responsible for the top lot, the Blandford Bloodstock-bought Night Of Thunder (Ire) filly [lot 278] out of five-time winner and listed-placed Thiswaycadeaux (Thewayyouare), but they also ended proceedings as the leading consignors with 24 yearlings making £1,544,000 in total.

That was needed, according to Roger O'Callaghan, who revealed that there were 60 more yearlings standing in the field at home in Westmeath, with 40 needing to be broken in and prepared for the breeze-ups.

Away from the excellent results posted by their own stock, Tally-Ho will have been delighted by how all the progeny of their resident stallions were received with yearlings by Kodiac, Cotai Glory, Kessaar, Galileo Gold, Mehmas and young sire Inns Of Court doing well. 

Night Of Thunder Stars

But the star of the show, without question, was Darley's Night Of Thunder. Along with Tally-Ho's sales-topping filly, the Mountarmstrong Stud-drafted Night Of Thunder [170] colt out of Pious Alexander, which ended day one on top at £230,000, ensured it was a memorable sale for the sire.

Mark McStay landed the day one leader, after which, the leading agent labelled Night Of Thunder, the sire of last week's spellbinding G1 Nunthorpe S. winner Highfield Princess (Fr), as a solid source of top-class talent. 

Classy Siblings On Show

Some pedigrees leapt off the page. The Galileo Gold half-brother [280] to Nunthorpe runner-up The Platinum Queen (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}) made £170,000 to join Richard Spencer, the Ulysses (Ire)  half-brother [213] to Coventry S. winner Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}) was knocked down to Dance Thoroughbreds for £150,000 and Whitsbury Manor's Havana Grey (GB) half-sister to Sandy Lane S. scorer El Caballo (GB) (Havana Gold {Ire}) was all the rage at £230,000 with Jack Warren of Highclere doing the buying. 

Havana Grey Shines

Of the 22 horses offered by Havana Grey, all bar one were sold for a total of £1,089,000, averaging at £51,857. Whitsbury's Ed Harper revealed that his performance is exceeding the wildest dreams but, with nine individual black-type horses in his first crop, perhaps buyers were cottoning on to the fact that they have been witnessing something special.

Soldier's Answers The Call

This game is all about looking towards the future and the early signs are that Joe Foley has another real one at Ballyhane Stud in Soldier's Call (GB). 

The man knows how to launch a stallion and must have taken great credit about how Soldier's Call cleared £563,000 from 13 yearlings sold at an average of £43,308. 

What's more, Foley was prepared to put his money where his mouth is, and bought the top lot [212] by the sire for £105,000 off Tinnakill House Stud for Steve Parkin. 

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