Belardo brother among highlights as Ballylinch returns to Deauville
Nancy Sexton speaks to John O'Connor about his hopes for the auction
While different British and Irish vendors have come and gone over the years in Deauville, you can be sure that when you visit Yard B, you will be greeted by the familiar green and orange of Ballylinch Stud, a fixture of the Arqana August Sale for more than 20 years.
This is a stud that understands what it takes to do well in Deauville, as borne out by their recent results which include the €1 million sale of a Dubawi colt out of Mise in 2013. Ballylinch drafts have also turned over north of €900,000 every year from 2015 to 2017, while a number of graduates have also gone on to be successful on the track, notably dual Group 1 winner Belardo, the champion two-year-old of 2014 who changed hands for €100,000 to Ted Voute on behalf of Prince Faisal in 2013.
With a brother to Belardo among this year’s seven-strong draft, the potential is undoubtedly there for another strong showing.
“I think this is one of the strongest drafts that we have taken to this sale,” says John O’Connor, managing director of Ballylinch Stud. “We’ve been selling in Deauville for over 20 years, and it’s a place where we have sold well. We have also sold some very good horses there.”
Arguably the highlight on paper is the brother to Belardo, who opens the draft on Sunday evening as lot 105. The first foal by Lope De Vega out of the Group 1-placed Danaskaya since Belardo, he is also a half-brother to Swedish Group 3 winner Berling and the Group 2-placed Diamond Sky, herself an Arqana August Sale graduate.
“His dam ran for us a homebred,” says O’Connor. “She ended up being Irish champion two-year-old. This lad is reminiscent of Belardo, he’s a rich bay with a bit of white. I think people who know Belardo will see similarities between the two. He’s perhaps a little stronger but then he was born earlier in the year than Belardo. Belardo was born in April, which is about the cut off point for this sale.”
Ballylinch have used this sale as a launchpad for several of their first-crop stallions in the past - for instance, Belardo was one of the first yearlings to sell in Europe by Lope De Vega - and do so again this year with their latest young horse Make Believe. The son of Makfi, who won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix de la Foret for Andre Fabre, has two representatives on offer (after the withdrawal of lot 107) including Ballylinch’s homebred filly out of Lady Pimpernel (144).
The filly is the first foal out of her Grade 3-winning dam, a Sir Percy mare from the thriving Anna Paola family who was secured by the stud for $425,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November Sale.
“Our policy with our young stallions is to provide them with the mares to give them a chance,” says O’Connor. “We only stand horses that we would want to support ourselves, and it’s a policy that has certainly worked well with some of our other horses, such as Lope De Vega.
“The Lady Pimpernel filly will be a good starting point for Make Believe as she’s a quality filly and a very good mover.
“Her dam was a good racemare and its a very active family - you have Helmet, National Defense and Billesdon Brook in there. I also like the idea of Sir Percy as a broodmare sire, I think he’s one to keep an eye on. We’ve bought a couple of stakes winners by him and I like the progeny that they’re now producing.”
O’Connor adds: “The Make Believes are nice lookers, they seem to have good temperaments and they move well. The sales season will reveal a lot but I’m pretty confident in what we have by him.”
Meanwhile, resident stallion Lope De Vega is responsible for a filly out of the Listed-placed Fifth Commandment (113), herself a daughter of Haras de Saint Pair’s highly successful producer Via Milano, while lot 161 is an Invincible Spirit filly out of the Prix Allez France heroine Mayhem and a member of Kilfrush Stud’s exceptional Cerulean Sky family. The draft also includes a Siyouni filly out of Firth Of Clyde Stakes winner Majestic Dubawi (156) and a Dark Angel a colt out of the smart Jillnextdoor (136).
“The Lope De Vega looks like a real speed filly,” says O’Connor. “She’s muscular and pretty typical of the family, which has largely made its name in France. She’s an April foal but precocious.
“The Siyouni is what it says on the tin - a powerful, deep, muscular filly. She’s out of a good Dubawi mare and you have Dark Vision there in the family too.
“The Invincible Spirit is a high-class filly with a huge pedigree and the Dark Angel is strong, elegant colt. He’s out of a fast, tough mare who was good enough to run in the Cheveley Park.”
Ballylinch also offers something of a rarity in lot 142, a Lawman granddaughter of Ballymacoll Stud’s blue hen Hellenic who was purchased for 100,000gns as a foal through Mick Flanagan. As her breeding suggests, she was sourced out of the Ballymacoll dispersal at Tattersalls; indeed, she is the only pinhook out of that dispersal on offer this weekend.
“She’s from a hugely international family and the model doesn’t let the pedigree down," says O’Connor. "I think this is a filly that Ballymacoll would be proud of.”
It’s a select draft but such an approach has long worked well for Ballylinch, and seems poised to do so again.
“We try to keep our draft very compact and only send horses that we think will suit the market, ones that are ready for it,” says O’Connor. “This sale doesn’t suit every horse but those that it does suit can do very well.”
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