Triumph Hurdle Winner? Ethical Diamond Off To Mullins After 320k Sale

Harold Kirk: made the trip to Tattersalls especially to buy Ethical Diamond | Laura Green/Tattersalls


Hurricane Fly (Ire), Un De Sceaux (Fr), Vautour (Fr) and Faugheen (Ire). You name them, Harold Kirk has bought them. But did the leading bloodstock agent snap up the next jumps star to join Ireland's dominant champion National Hunt handler Willie Mullins?

Ethical Diamond (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}) was the only reason that Kirk travelled to the Tattersalls July Sale this week and he wasn't leaving without a horse he spoke of as being a future Melbourne Cup prospect. 

That is the esteem the leading judge held Michael O'Meara's recent Limerick winner in and he was prepared to push the boat out at 320,000gns to secure the 3-year-old (lot 516A). 

“He's going to Willie Mullins for an existing client to be a dual-purpose horse,” Kirk said. “He'll go hurdling now and hopefully he will come back and be a very good staying Flat horse as well. He's a new horse, he's only had three runs and he has improved with every run. He's a gorgeous horse and he stays well. He won very well at Limerick and he travels well as well. We hope he'll make up into a Melbourne Cup horse on the Flat one day.”

Awtaad has not had many hurdlers in his young stallion career but Mullins trained the best of them in Ascending (Ire). Although the ill-fated gelding failed to win in three starts over jumps, he finished a good fifth in this year's Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, and that's where Ethical Diamond will be aimed at now.

Kirk added, “I came here especially for him. I knew we would have big opposition from Australia and that's the way it turned out. But look, Australia can't buy up all the good ones and Willie likes to bring horses down there as well. Hopefully this is a horse who could one day bring us to Cheltenham and maybe even Royal Ascot. 

“[Awtaad] is by Cape Cross so I don't see why he wouldn't [work] and this horse has a nice German pedigree. He looks an athletic type and I don't see why he won't do well. He's just a beautiful individual.”

Owner-breeder William Kennedy and trainer Michael O'Meara were otherwise engaged at Dundalk where Bobby K, the seasoned handicapper who means so much to connections, landed his sixth race and then Roman Bull went on to complete the trifecta for connections. 

Speaking from Ireland, Kennedy commented, “Today is massive for us and is the culmination of the whole team's work under Michael's direction and it paid off in the ring and on the track. I am delighted to see Willie Mullins get the horse and he will have the best of chances there. Ethical Diamond has been excellent all week at the sale for Baroda Stud, who consigned him for us, and has been so cool about everything he has faced.”

He added, “I have to thank David [Cox of Baroda] for managing him so well.  There is plenty of upside to the horse under both codes which gives Willie Mullins lots of options.”

Of the 195 lots offered on day two, 173 were sold for a clearance rate of 89%. The aggregate stood at 4,059,700gns while the average was 23,466gns and the median 13,000gns.



Philip Kirby Snaps Up Joseph O'Brien-Trained Sprinter For 210k

The 105-rated Anthem National (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who was last seen finishing second to Commanche Falls (GB) (Lethal Force {Ire}) in a listed race at the Curragh for Joseph O'Brien, was knocked down to Philip Kirby for 210,000gns. 

Just 24 hours after O'Brien sold Group 3 winner Basil Martini (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) to French farm Haras du Thenney, the similarly speedy colt (lot 504) was bought to replace Kirby's Farhan (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), who died earlier this year.

“That's a bit more than I usually spend,” Kirby joked afterwards. “We lost Farhan, owned by James Cookson, just before Royal Ascot. James wanted to replace him with a horse capable of getting to the nice days and give some good days out.

“This horse was recommended by Joseph and he looks as though he can run over five to seven furlongs, which gives us plenty of options. He only ran a few weeks ago so we will get him home, give him a couple of weeks' break and then get him out again.”

The gelding was bred and owned by Noel O'Callaghan, and is out of Mountarmstrong Stud's 2014 Queen Mary S. winner Anthem Alexander (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}).

O'Shea Keeps The Landlord Happy With Jumps Prospect

Kirk was not the only man to make his way to Tattersalls hell-bent on one particular animal. 

Keith Bell of Elton Racing, who has horses in training with John O'Shea, identified Roaring Lion gelding Maasai Mara (GB) to go hurdling for the Gloucestershire trainer and left the sales complex a happy man after the hammer fell at 170,000gns. 

Maasai Mara (lot 528) won twice for John and Thady Gosden and reached a rating of 86 in eight starts. 

Speaking alongside Bell, trainer O'Shea commented, “Keith is my landlord and has been for 27 years. Although I mainly train on the Flat now, Keith is a jumps man and he has had over 100 winners. We have been looking for a new horse for him for over 12 months and this is the only one we picked out here.”

He added, “He ticks a lot of boxes, he gets a decent trip, he is a nice-looking horse, he goes on soft ground, and he is highly-rated. He won't run again on the Flat, we will wait now and get him schooled for a hurdles campaign in the autumn.”

Classy Juvenile I Am Invictus Dubai-Bound

The Michael O'Callaghan-trained I Am Invictus (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}) was another to come to the sale as a wildcard and sold to Dr Khaled Sallami for 150,000gns. He will be trained Doug Watson in Dubai now. 

Sold for 160,000gns as a breezer by Gary Halpin and Sean Davis at the Craven Sale here in April, I Am Invictus (lot 516B) ran three times for O'Callaghan and was last seen finishing a decent fourth in the G2 Railway S. behind Bucanero Fuerte (GB) (Wootton Bassett {GB}).

Sallami said, “He is strong and has good form and is still just two years old. Hopefully he will be a champion next year. I am sure, one hundred per cent, that he will be a good horse next year in Dubai.”

As well as I Am Invictus, Sallami picked up a handful of horses over the past two days to continue their careers in Libya for 16,000gns or less apiece.

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