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A perfect storm sees English King fetch 925,000gns at Tattersalls

James Thomas sees the headline session of the Autumn Horses in Training Sale

English King strides in front of the Tattersalls rostrum before being knocked down for 925,000gns
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As an almost unprecedented offering at public auction, there had been much speculation as to what price English King would fetch when the classy son of Camelot was offered at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale on Wednesday.

The answer, after a lengthy round of bidding, was 925,000gns as agent Armando Duarte saw off a determined Ted Voute.

As with so many of the choice lots from the Autumn Horses in Training Sale, the three-year-old colt will now head to Australia to continue his racing career, with Duarte's winning bid struck on the instruction of Paul Moroney and Ballymore Thoroughbreds, the training operation of Moroney's brother, Mike.

View full Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale results and stats

The Park Paddocks ring was about as packed as social distancing measures would allow as Voute, sat to the right of John O'Kelly's rostrum, and Alastair Donald, by the partition next to the exit, set the record-breaking lot on his way.

At the 750,000gns mark O'Kelly turned to Voute and looked for a 25,000gns increase. When the eventual underbidder signalled a raise of just 10,000gns, O'Kelly quipped: "You are tight!"

However, by this point Duarte, stationed outside beyond the entrance to the ring, was well into his stride and continued to meet Voute's every move. As the bid board showed 875,000gns there was some uncertainty over whether Voute, taking instructions via FaceTime, had thrown in the towel or was suffering a communication breakdown with his client.

He gestured to O'Kelly that he was awaiting instruction, but no sooner had he appeared to try and buy himself some time than he indicated a raise to 900,000gns. "You'll find out?" said the auctioneer. "You did find out!"

However, despite O'Kelly's efforts to coax a final effort from the underbidder, Voute had no further response when Duarte signalled a play of 925,000gns.

English King won two races for Ed Walker and owner Bjorn Nielsen, including the Lingfield Derby Trial, a performance that propelled him to the head of the betting for the Epsom Classic itself. Although pleased with the price English King made, Walker described seeing the colt sell as a "bittersweet" experience.

"I'd have far rather won that money on the track or won the Derby with him," said a sanguine Walker. "But it's just been the perfect storm with him; in a normal year Bjorn may have sold more yearlings or been up for competing internationally with him from home.

"But when I tried to persuade Bjorn to keep him and aim for these big races in Australia and Hong Kong, quite rightly he was worried about whether we would be able to go to the races - or will racing even be happening. Unfortunately, it was the perfect storm for me trying to hang on to him. It's a great result in the ring though, and as Bjorn puts so much into the game it's great to get a result like that for him. It's crap for me as a young-ish trainer though!"

Ed Walker: "God he made lockdown a lot more interesting!"
English King broke a 30-year-old track record when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial and was far from disgraced in fifth in the Classic itself having been caught back in the ruck in behind runaway winner Serpentine. Although Walker's disappointment was clear, he said he hoped the colt would fulfil the potential he is adamant he possesses, even if it is for new connections.

"We've had a great journey with him, God he made lockdown a lot more interesting!" said Walker. "It didn't end how we hoped it would but things just played against him. I still believe he'll be a very good horse though and I'm very grateful to the guys who've bought him. He's tailor made for the Melbourne Cup and I'd be thrilled if he could go and win the Cup for his new owners."

With travel restrictions having curbed international attendance at the Autumn Horses in Training Sale, Tattersalls regular Paul Moroney was unable to witness the acquisition of English King first hand. However, shortly after the hammer had fallen the agent said: "English King's track-record performance winning the Lingfield Derby Trial beating St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco was one of the most breathtakingly dominant performances anywhere this year.

"He's clearly a highly talented colt with loads of quality and we're thrilled to have secured him. Through their joint sire Camelot and with similar race records at the same stage, English King maps the same as last weekend’s Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet.

"We've bought him for a syndicate headed by two New Zealand businessmen and a collection of Ballymore Stables' Australian clients. He’s certainly an exciting addition to the team and our first time playing at this very high level so one could say the pressure is on for him to perform!

"He will head down under in December to join Mike's Flemington stable in early January and we'll play things by ear. He will likely race in our autumn but next spring will be the main focus going forward."

Armando Duarte: signed for the 925,000gns top lot English King
The three-year-old was making his second appearance at public auction, having been bought by Jeremy Brummitt for €210,000 at the Arqana October Yearling Sale in 2018. Although named English King, he hails from one of France's most rapidly developing families.

He is the 12th foal out of Platonic, the foundation mare for famed Normandy nursery Ecurie des Monceaux. The daughter of Zafonic was bought for 100,000gns at Tattersalls in 2004 and has since gone on to form her own dynasty.

Her seven winners include Group 3 Prix de Lutece scorer Pacifique, dam of record-setting €2.6 million Arqana yearling Parabellum, and the Listed-winning Prudenzia, whose brood includes Magic Wand and her Classic-winning three-parts sister Chicquita, who holds a sales ring record of her own having become the most expensive thoroughbred sold in Ireland when bought by Peter and Ross Doyle on behalf of Coolmore for €6m in 2013.

English King now holds a sales ring record of his own, having become the most expensive colt ever sold at the Autumn Horses in Training Sale. Aljazzi holds the outright record after the Group 2-winning daughter of Shamardal sold to Newsells Park Stud for 1,000,000gns in 2018.

Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale stats: day three

Offered: 305
Sold: 281 (92 per cent)
Aggregate: 9,779,600gns (up 19 per cent year-on-year)
Average: 34,805gns (up 15 per cent)
Median: 16,000gns (down three per cent)

Ferguson follows up

John Ferguson secured a trio of eyecatching recruits for leading Australia-based trainer Chris Waller during day two of the Autumn Horses in Training Sale, and was back in action on Wednesday when going to 370,000gns for the smart three-year-old Bullfinch.

The son of Kodiac, offered by The Castlebridge Consignment as part of the Rothschilds' Waddesdon Stud dispersal, won three of his five starts while under the care of Roger Charlton, with victory in a Chelmsford novice stakes at two followed by a brace of successes at Kempton, the latter of which earned the colt a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 106.

As well as an upwardly mobile race record, Bullfinch boasts a strong pedigree as he is the second foal out of Thistle Bird, a daughter of Selkirk who peaked at the age of six when winning the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes.

Lot 1,100: Bullfinch brings 370,000gns from Chris Waller
"He's got undoubted ability, he's been beautifully trained and he's progressive," said Ferguson. "And the mare went on to be a champion older mare, she was wonderful too.

"Kodiac has also had a winner of the Caulfield Cup with Best Solution, who we bought here a few years ago, so from an Australian point of view, there are a lot of reasons to think he could be a lot of fun down there."

The purchase of Bullfinch took Waller's Tattersalls haul to five, bought for receipts totalling 912,000gns.

Ballymore back in action

Prior to securing English King, Duarte struck a winning bid of 350,000gns for Emissary, with the Kingman half-brother to Derby hero Workforce also secured on behalf of Ballymore Thoroughbreds.

"Hopefully he'll be a nice type for next year as he's improving all the time and is by a proper sire in Kingman," said Duarte. "He had to tick all the boxes; pedigree, sire, the form, the trainer.

"But being from Juddmonte, we know he has a good background and a proper pedigree, which is very important for my guys. He passed the vet too, which is very hard to do. This kind of horse doesn't come on the market very often so we decided to have a crack. If he'd have sold last year he'd have cost more but as he's here we decided it was time to buy."

The three-year-old colt ran five times for Hugo Palmer and Khalid Abdullah, winning a Wolverhampton novice stakes on debut and a Yarmouth handicap from an official rating of 97 on his most recent start.

In between those efforts he finished second to Khalifa Sat in the Cocked Hat Stakes and contested the same Classic that his half-brother won, albeit without the same success as Workforce as he finished 15th behind Serpentine.

Voute gets his Icon

Ted Voute secured the top three lots at the inaugural edition of the Tattersalls August Sale earlier this year, a haul headed by the 220,000gns Walkinthesand who was purchased from the draft offered by Richard Hannon's East Everleigh Stables.

Those acquisitions were made on behalf of new Riyadh-based operation Najd Stud Limited, who also dipped into East Everleigh's draft again on Wednesday when Voute landed the classy Urban Icon with a bid of 320,000gns from his seat to the right of the rostrum.

The four-year-old has been something of a flag bearer for his sire Cityscape, winning three races, including the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes, and placing in Group races behind the likes of Mohaather, Space Traveller and Wichita.

Ted Voute after signing for Urban Icon at 320,000gns
"He's a lovely horse; he's big and robust and will stand a lot of training out there," said Voute. "He was my pick of the day. We'll see how he acclimates once he's out there but he'll go down the normal route, running in the King's Cup series and then we'll see if he's good enough to compete on the big day [Saudi Cup]. That's the quality of horse we're trying to buy so he's a good one to get."

Voute added: "None of the August Sale purchases have run over there yet but they're all there. The owners had five winners last Friday and seven winners the week before so they're doing quite well!"

Urban Icon was bred by Willie Carson's Minster Stud from the Shamardal mare Fauran, who shares her page with record-breaking first-season sire Mehmas.

The colt was making his third appearance at public auction, having been bought by Peter and Ross Doyle for £23,000 at the Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale before failing to sell at 340,000gns at last year's Autumn Horses in Training Sale.

A short while later Voute was back in action for Najd Stud and went to 340,000gns for the Juddmonte-consigned Derevo. The four-year-old son of Dansili, who hails from the family of Zafonic, won three races for Sir Michael Stoute and has a peak RPR of 106.

Dwyer and De Sousa combine

Progressive two-year-old Fight Zone will also continue his racing career in the Middle East after Chris Dwyer and Victoria de Sousa went to 290,000gns for the upwardly mobile son of War Front, who was offered through The Castlebridge Consignment.

The colt won his last two outings for Ger Lyons and owner Wendy O'Leary, adding a Dundalk nursery to the Naas maiden victory listed in the catalogue. De Sousa said: "He's been bought to go to Dubai for Sheikh Rashid. He'll be aimed at the Carnival and head straight out to Meydan. Someone like Salem bin Ghadayer or Satish Seemar will likely be training him."

Chris Dwyer and Victoria de Sousa with the docket for Fight Zone
She added: "He's a lovely horse with a bit of scope and came with a clean vet report. He's got good form - it's hard to get one as good as him that vets clean. Chris really liked him too so we're happy."

The juvenile is out of the unraced Speightstown mare Agreeable Miss, whose six winners include four with black type, namely Middle Park Stakes fourth King Neptune, Listed winner Alkaraama and the Listed-placed Faydhan, all of whom are also by War Front, and Jebel Ali Listed scorer Mark Of Approval.

Fight Zone was making his second appearance at public auction, having gone unsold at $120,000 when offered by Eaton Sales at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He had been entered in the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale but was withdrawn and sent into training with Lyons.

Niarchos family get back into familiar pedigree

There was an early highlight when Martin Buick, acting on behalf of the Niarchos family's Flaxman Stables Ireland, went to 170,000gns to secure Festival Day from Mark Johnston's Kingsley Park draft.

The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi won one of her eight starts for Johnston and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, with her six-length Chepstow success awarded an RPR of 86.

However, the filly's appeal centred around her pedigree as she is out of Ama, a daughter of Storm Cat and the brilliant Miesque - winner of no fewer than nine Group/Grade 1s and dam of major talents such as Kingmambo and East Of The Moon.

Miesque's name has rarely been far from the headlines in recent times, not least as she is the great granddam of the top-class Alpha Centauri and her Group 1-winning half-sister Alpine Star.

Other offshoots of her family have supplied elite winners such as Karatontie and Study Of Man, who stand at Gainesway and Lanwades respectively, as well as Rumplestiltskin and her Yorkshire Oaks-winning daughter Tapestry.

"It's obviously one of the best pages in the Stud Book and the Niarchos family were keen to get back into the family," said Buick, who stood alongside Electra Niarchos in the gangway as he struck the winning bid.

"The pedigree speaks for itself, it's just amazing how it keeps repeating, and this filly had some talent on the racetrack too. She's been bought to go to Ulysses."

Ama joined the Godolphin broodmare band when bought by John Ferguson for 1,800,000gns at the 2007 December Sale. She rejoined the Niarchos fold at a cost of 160,000gns some ten years later in the winter after she had produced Festival Day.

Ulysses, the son of Galileo who carried the Niarchos silks to victory in the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International, stands at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket. His first runners will hit the track next year.

The Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale concludes on Thursday with a session starting at 9.30am.

More sales news: 

Ted Durcan secures 165,000gns top lot at Autumn Horses in Training opener

Tattersalls and Goffs collaborate on revised point-to-point sales programme

Solid start in Kentucky to Fasig-Tipton October Yearlings Sale

Bjorn puts so much into the game it's great to get a result like that for him. It's crap for me as a young-ish trainer though!
E.W. Terms