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Nothing superficial about the most expensive National Hunt horses sold in 2021

Aisling Crowe on the priciest lots in another year of strong trade for jumpers

Benie Des Dieux at Tattersalls Ireland, where she set a sale record price for a National Hunt broodmare
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Another disrupted year it might have been but there was no end to big prices and roaring trade in National Hunt stock, with the most expensive horses of the year all selling in the final weeks of 2021. Here we take a look back at the biggest prices registered at jumps sales during the year.

Deeply Superficial

4yo b f Flemensfirth - Glenside Tara (Kayf Tara) 

Consigned by Ballycrystal Stables, bought by Aidan O'Ryan and Gordon Elliott for £385,000 at Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale

First impressions count for so much and Deeply Superficial could not have created a better impression than with the manner of her debut win in a 14-runner maiden at Lingstown on the first weekend in December.

The daughter of Flemensfirth forced a strong pace for much of the race and had her rivals burned off coming to the second-last, from where she kept up a relentless gallop to pummel the field into submission.

That devastating debut victory turned an enormous profit for Matthew Flynn O'Connor, who purchased her for €31,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale from Ballincurrig House Stud.

"She was just a beauty," he said after her £385,000 sale at Cheltenham. "She's been a queen from day one, I bought her full-sister this year just on the strength of her before we ran her. She's a standout and they're kind of a bit unique those well-bred fillies, by Flemensfirth out of a Kayf Tara mare."

Her pedigree is certainly another strong point, replete with obvious broodmare potential. Her dam is a three-parts sister to Coral Cup winner Diamond King and her second dam, Georgia On My Mind. was a Listed winner at Auteuil. She is a half-sister to Change Partner, dam of Grade 2 winner Stolen Silver, Listed winner Jamal Malik and Karalee, who was Grade 1-placed.

Flynn O'Connor added: "She was very impressive in her point-to-point, they went a right good gallop but she had them all burned off. She won on Sunday, was on the boat on Monday and she still looks a million dollars."

Deeply Superficial: went from race to boat but still looked a picture at Cheltenham

Word was spreading the filly could be something out of the ordinary even while she was in action, Aidan 'Mouse' O'Ryan revealed.

"She's gorgeous as a physical, she has a pedigree and what she did was freakish," he said. "A friend of mine, Peter Nolan, rang me straight as she went by the line and said, 'You have to buy this filly, I haven't seen one like this for a long time.' She's for a new client and is going to Gordon's."

Jet Powered

4yo b g Jet Away - Cloghoge Lady (Presenting)

Consigned by Leamore Horses, bought by Highflyer Bloodstock for 350,000gns at Tattersalls Online December Sale

The final point-to-point sale of the year brought an early Christmas present for Anna Calder and Cormac Farrell's Leamore Horses when Jet Powered topped Tattersalls' first dedicated online sale of National Hunt and point-to-point horses.

Just four days on from an impressive debut win at Borris House, the Jet Away gelding sparked an online bidding war that was won by Anthony Bromley of Highflyer Bloodstock, who secured the 12-length maiden winner for 350,000gns.

Bromley revealed that Jet Powered would join the powerful string at Seven Barrows.

“He’s been bought for an established client of Nicky Henderson’s," he said. "The time of his Borris House win was excellent and he’s a fine stamp of a horse. We thought the female side of the pedigree was good and we really like the sire Jet Away."

It was an enormous return on the €45,000 Calder and Farrell had paid for Jet Powered at the 2020 Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale, where he was sold by Cudgley Stud.

Farrell said: “It’s a great result and I’m delighted to see him go to a top home as he’s a very good horse."

Jet Powered: stole the online show when selling to Highflyer Bloodstock for 350,000gns

The price eclipsed the £215,000 that Evan Williams paid for his Jeremy half-brother Only The Bold at the 2020 Tattersalls Cheltenham February Sale.

Jet Powered and Only The Bold are half-brothers to Grade 2 winner Westerner Lady and out of Cloghoge Lady, a bumper-winning daughter of Presenting from the family of Irish Arkle winner On The Other Hand.

Hermes Allen 

4yo b g Poliglote - Une Destine (Assessor)

Sold by Caroline McCaldin, bought by Aiden Murphy and Paul Nicholls for £350,000 at Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale

Wilson Dennison will have to send a few more young horses to graze with his daughter Caroline McCaldin, who was so taken with the young Poliglote gelding, one of a pair of two-year-olds sent to her, that she was determined to hang on to him.

McCaldin did a superlative job with the AQPS gelding, who was bred, like Envoi Allen, Espoir D'Allen and Eldorado Allen, by Bruno Vagne. Hermes Allen has a typically strong Vagne pedigree as the first foal of Une Destine, a Grade 3 winner at Auteuil who is also a homebred for Vagne.

Une Destine is a half-sister to the dam of Grade 2-winning hurdler Galahad from the family of Elfile, who gave Kenny Alexander a 1-3 and Willie Mullins a 1-2-3 when third to Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux in the 2020 Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham. 

Third on his debut at Rathcannon, Hermes Allen came out three weeks later to make all to win at Kirkistown, in the fastest time of the meeting.

County Down-based McCaldin said: "It was unbelievable. Dad [Wilson Dennison, owner] asked me to graze two two-year-olds and I refused to give him back to him. We broke him, trained him, just couldn't get to the bottom of him, he's a brilliant horse."

Hermes Allen: took the eye of Aiden Murphy and Paul Nicholls at Cheltenham

Aiden Murphy and Paul Nicholls, who trains Politologue, the highest-rated horse by Poliglote on Racing Post Ratings, had to stretch to £350,000 to secure Hermes Allen.

Murphy said: "He's been bought for a client of Paul Nicholls. He's a Poliglote, the first produce of a decent French mare and the video was good."

Benie Des Dieux

10yo b m Great Pretender - Cana (Robin Des Champs)

Sold by Closutton Stables, bought by MV Magnier and Bective Stud for €350,000 at Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale

One of the biggest news stories to emerge on the National Hunt sales circuit in 2021 was the identity of the buyers of this multiple Grade 1-winning hurdler.

Many in the Tattersalls Ireland auditorium were surprised to learn that Coolmore had joined forces with Noel and Valerie Moran of Bective Stud, who have been an increasingly influential presence at auctions, to purchase Benie Des Dieux.

The Bective team had engaged in a high-stakes bidding battle with Coolmore's representatives at the 2020 Goffs December National Hunt Sale, which culminated in 11-time Grade 1 winner Apple's Jade becoming the most expensive National Hunt broodmare ever sold, when purchased by the Morans for €530,000.

Less than a year later and the two parties had decided to join up, rather than compete for one of the most exciting broodmare prospects to come on the open market in 2021

Benie Des Dieux, a Grade 1 winner in Ireland, Britain and France for Willie Mullins and the Riccis, is a granddaughter of King's Theatre, whose daughters are highly-prized as broodmares, and was offered in foal to the red-hot Walk In The Park.

Gerry Aherne, entrusted with bidding on Benie Des Dieux, revealed news of the partnership after signing the docket at €350,000.

“Noel and Valerie are putting together an incredible bunch of racehorses and broodmares, and we’re delighted to be involved with a mare of this quality with them,” said Aherne.

“It’s something that's been discussed recently; Noel and Valerie are some of the biggest players in the game and we’re delighted to partner with them to buy Benie Des Dieux. They've built a beautiful farm and are a big part of Irish racing now, so to have that partnership with them is very positive. It’s a good start to get a queen like her.”

Aherne added that Benie Des Dieux could be among the first book of mares covered by one of Coolmore's most exciting new stallions, the German Derby winner In Swoop, a call that will be made between the owners.

The Gunner Yeats

4yo b g Yeats - Caitlin Brook (Alderbrook)

Sold by Baltimore Stables, bought by Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins for £310,000 at Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale

The extraordinary returns posted by the Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale, which saw the average breach £90,000 for the first time, are reflected in the presence of three graduates in this list.

The Gunner Yeats was one of four horses to sell for more than £300,000, and in total 17 horses achieved a six-figure price.

The Gunner Yeats@: did his bit for figures at Cheltenham when selling for £310,000

It was a third trip through the sales ring for The Gunner Yeats, and each time he has fetched a higher price than the last. The leap in value from store sale to his latest auction was notably huge.

He was sold by Abbeyleix Stud to White Horse Stud for just €8,000 as a foal at the 2017 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale and returned for the company's May Store sale, where he made €29,000 to Tom Keating.

His dam Caitlin Brook won her point-to-point and the Alderbrook mare is out of a half-sister to the dam of Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby.

The £310,000 sale of The Gunner Yeats was fantastic reward for the brother and sister duo of John and Ellen Doyle, who worked in tandem to produce him. 

"We've had plenty of good sales over the last two years and this would be about the best to date, so we're thrilled," said John Doyle. "He's a fantastic horse, he was breathtaking and he took over the whole yard. He had a walk to die for.

"It's a partnership with Tom Keating, who bought the horse, we'd have one a year. Power, presence, he has it all and I really think he's got a serious big future. It's a big result."

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She's a standout and they're kind of a bit unique those well-bred fillies, by Flemensfirth out of a Kayf Tara mare
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