Douvan's brother Jonbon sets new sale record as JP McManus strikes at £570,000
Exciting four-year-old's appearance at Yorton Farm auction does not disappoint
It was exactly a year to the day since racegoers last saw Douvan in action, that great chaser having given a stunning indication that his best moments were not behind him when coasting home in the Clonmel Oil Chase.
The eight-time Grade 1 winner gained himself a reputation on the track that will now precede his full-brother Jonbon, with JP McManus setting a new record for a point-to-pointer sold in public as he reached £570,000 at the Goffs UK November Sale at Yorton Farm, near Welshpool, on Thursday.
Auctioneer Henry Beeby feted the four-year-old with quite the introduction as lot eight strolled into the picturesque cloistered yard full of National Hunt powerbrokers.
"There haven’t been many as talked about after a win," he said, before adding: "I’m not going to ask for silly money," as a first bid of £200,000 was registered, and began to rise in impressive denominations.
McManus, whose interest was being administered over the phone, matched every call, the final opposition being provided by attending businessman and owner Anthony Barney as Jonbon demolished the high mark of £480,000 that had been held for three years by the ill-fated Flemenshill.
The Goffs UK team believed that Jonbon had already been the most expensive public store purchase to have ever been sent into the point sphere, with Paul Holden and Michael Shefflin purchasing him for €140,000 at last year’s Derby Sale before he landed an event at Dromahane last Sunday for Holden’s daughter Ellmarie.
"It’s great for the yard, Ellmarie puts a lot of effort into it," said Paul Holden. "We took a punt on the horse when we bought him, he was an expensive store. On the day we bought him I suppose he was a cheap expensive horse - we didn’t think we’d get him."
Asked how far he thought Jonbon could go, he replied: "All the way. He’s got serious ability. Watch this space."
His daughter was just about retaining her composure.
"It would be emotional," she said. "This wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents and all the guys at home in the yard.
"It all just came naturally to him. He was ready to rock last year but we couldn’t run him. He’s a lovely horse and I wish them all the best with him."
This could not yet be considered a symbolic passing of the torch - Willie Mullins reported this week that Rich Ricci’s giant Douvan is ticking along at home but seems more likely to return after his 11th birthday - and Jonbon has also not even begun a career under rules, so the chances of him replicating the scintillating back-to-back Cheltenham Festival victories of his brother are unlikely, to say the least.
We have seen so many beautifully-related individuals fail to replicate the exploits of other family members, just as wide-margin point-to-point winners of any provenance have sold for fortunes and abandoned their form in an Irish field. But it is rare for a horse to boast those twin qualities, which is what made him so sought-after.
"With this sort of money, in these times it’s unrealistic [to expect it], but it’s great to get it," said Shefflin.
Bold bidding pays off
There was compensation later for Barney as he picked up £190,000 purchase Bold Endeavour, a sturdy-looking son of Fame And Glory who had scored for Warren Ewing at Necarne.
Barney, who is the owner of holiday parks chain Countrywide, bought the gelding with young Leicestershire-based trainer Laura Morgan, having also added Sam Curling’s Thurles bumper winner Wheres Maude Gone for £75,000.
"We’re not going home empty-handed and that’s the main thing," he said. "We have horses with Laura, who is local to us, just 15 minutes from where I live."
Barney was still slightly rueing his luck on missing out on Jonbon, as he explained that he was expanding his interest in racing but "only looking for the best".
He added: "We knew he had big potential, you could call it cutting corners with a horse like that, it would take you straight to the front."
Jonbon’s appearance was enough to have provided a landmark occasion for Yorton as it stepped in to replace Doncaster as host, even if trade was a little hit-and-miss during much of the session.
It was actually one of the sales-topper’s distant relatives who was the second to pass six figures as Colin Bowe’s Dromahane winner Starevitch made £105,000 to Tom Malone.
"His dam and Jonbon’s dam are sisters," explained the agent. "He’s for Jamie Snowden. I just loved the horse - he didn’t win his point easily but it was a shade cosy."
Half a dozen lots made six figures overall, with Fiddaun Farm’s athletic Jim Key heading to an unnamed buyer after agent Hamish Macauley stretched to £215,000, while Willy Twiston-Davies made a late £130,000 play for the Doyen-sired chestnut Undersupervision, who scored on his debut for Cormac Doyle.
"He looks a typical [father] Nige horse, a chasing type," said Twiston-Davies. "He’s been bought for a new owner in the yard who has spent a few quid in the last few days."
The sale, a new event designed to get the pointing industry back on track after Covid-19 disruption, drew to a close with 46 of 63 horses selling for a clearance rate of 73 per cent. The aggregate was £3,046,500, the average £66,228 and median £45,000.
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