Aintree fences await August Sale-topper Velvet Maker
David Christie went to £36,000 to secure the son of Policy Maker
Goffs UK held a rather subdued renewal of the August Sale in Doncaster on Tuesday, with all key market indicators showing year-on-year declines. The 2016 renewal recorded two six-figure lots, both from the Potensis dispersal, but the absence of a headline draft 12 months on meant the top lot fetched just £36,000.
"Last year this sale made a huge return to the calendar following a two-year absence," said Goffs UK managing director Tony Williams. "The Potensis dispersal certainly provided a number of highlights and it was always going to be hard to match those results without a dispersal of that stature.
"However, this is a sale that provides a market for all levels and we enjoyed a strong trade for those that appealed most, but it has to be said it was hard going for the remainder."
By the close of trade 148 lots had changed hands at a clearance rate of just 64 per cent, with the aggregate down 54 per cent to £1,219,150, the average taking a drop of 27 per cent to £8,240, and the median taking a 17 per cent dip to £5,000.
The sale was staged in the midst of a downpour that would have given the biblical scenes at Glorious Goodwood a run for their money, but County Fermanagh-based trainer David Christie braved the inclement conditions and was rewarded when securing the talented Velvet Maker for £36,000.
The eight-year-old, who has a peak Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 144, is the third-highest rated progeny of Policy Maker, a son of Sadler's Wells who stands at Blackrath Stud. He has achieved that rating twice during his 13-race career, first when winning a Naas beginners’ chase by 11 lengths and again when runner-up to Douvan in the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase.
"His form behind Douvan is good, he goes on any ground, and jumps really well," said the Northern Irish handler. "He has the pace to go two miles but I think we'll step him up to two and a half. We'll give him a bit of a break now and then make a plan for him over the winter. His main springtime aim will be Aintree, either the Topham or the Foxhunters.
"There aren't that many of this type of horse around," Christie continued. "And when you see the price of some of these four-year-olds that couldn't even canter down to the start, I think he was good value."
One of the joint second-top lots is now set to continue his career in Greece, after Blandford Bloodstock's Tom Biggs went to £32,000 for Shaiyem from Richard Hannon's East Everleigh Stables.
"He's been bought for some long-standing clients from Greece," said Biggs. "They bought at the July Sale and are looking to upgrade the standard of horse they have over there. This horse looks like he has the right action for racing on sand."
The four-year-old son of Starspangledbanner, a €100,000 yearling, won three times for Hannon and former owner Al Shaqab, including on his most recent outing in a Lingfield handicap, where he ran to an RPR of 98.
Earlier in the session Bobby O'Ryan had also gone to £32,000 to acquire Marble Moon, a son of Millenary who reached the places on both his starts in bumpers for James Daniel Dullea.
"He looks a nice horse and will hopefully prove to be good value," said O'Ryan, who signed for the five-year-old in conjunction with trainer Evan Williams. "The plan will be to win a bumper before going hurdling."
The gelding is from the family of high-class jumper Le Coudray, and was bought by Dullea as a store for €15,000.
Buyers were keen to have a shot at supplementary entry Stage Summit, although the four-year-old initially entered the ring a lot too early, prompting a couple of eager bidders to play their hand a shade sooner than ideal.
"That was just a sneak preview!" joked auctioneer George Stanners as the son of Tikkanen exited the ring for the first time, before eventually going the way of Highflyer Bloodstock's Tessa Greatrex for £30,000.
The rangy gelding was offered by Roger McGrath, who picked up Stage Summit for just €1,500 as a three-year-old store, before training him to win on his third and most recent start in a Limerick bumper.
"I bought him for Ben Pauling," said Greatrex. "It's always nice to buy a horse with form - he beat a horse they obviously fancied of Willie Mullins' when he won his bumper. He's a nice individual, although I'm not sure when Ben's plan is for him."
Stage Summit is the second foal out of Summittotalkabout, an unraced daughter of a half-sister to Grand National winner Earth Summit.
The Shadwell offerings are bound to have been well scrutinised by buyers after their 2016 draft contained the likes of this year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Labaik. Among this year's offerings were the lightly raced Makanah, who went the way of the Axom syndicate for £30,000, and Muhajjal, whose sale to Oliver St Lawrence for £13,000 saw the son of Cape Cross come full circle.
"The story behind him is that Aislabie Stud, which I manage, sold him as a yearling," St Lawrence explained. "Angus [Gold, of Shadwell] very kindly paid us 180,000 guineas for him. He was a lovely yearling and we thought we'd like to give him a chance ourselves. He's the first foal out of a mare that we think is quite promising. He'll go to George Peckham, and we'd like to get a win into him for the mare."
The son of Cape Cross boasts some eye-catching form for Owen Burrows, having been a close third behind the progressive pair Frontispiece and Make Time, the latter of which was runner-up in the Thoroughbred Stakes during Glorious Goodwood. On his final start at two Muhajjal wasn't beaten far into fourth by none other than subsequent St James's Palace winner Barney Roy.
"The mare has an Acclamation two-year-old that George is training that we think is quite useful," added St Lawrence. "Sadly she lost her Iffraaj so there's no yearling this year, but she has a nice Dark Angel foal on the ground. I spoke to Owen Burrows and he explained the horse has been a little bit ill, but hopefully we'll have time to sort that out."
The four-year-old is out of the First Samurai mare Muqantara, a half-sister to Group 2 winner and Irish 1,000 Guineas third Laughing Lashes and out of a winning half-sister to Racing Post Trophy winner Palace Episode.