Hope springs eternal but unearthing a Tiger Roll or Sceptical is not the norm
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Today Martin takes a look at the Goffs UK August Sale, which gets under way in Doncaster, picking out a few that catch his eye, while also reflecting on the rare moments of inspiration that can bring a horse's new owner fame or fortune, and even less commonly both – subscribers can get more great insight every Monday to Friday.
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Everyone loves a bargain buy that wins big races. It’s the hope of unearthing the next one that keeps the bloodstock industry turning.
The Goffs UK August Sale, which begins its two-day run in Doncaster at 11am today, is responsible for two classics of the genre.
It was there in 2013 that Nigel Hawke took a shine to an unraced Authorized three-year-old gelding in the Godolphin draft, and gave £10,000 for him in spite of his lack of form and diminutive stature.
Hawke saddled Tiger Roll, for it was he, to win a Market Rasen juvenile hurdle three months later, and received a tidy profit soon after when selling the horse on to Mags O’Toole, acting on behalf of Gigginstown House Stud, for £80,000.
Lot 294 at Doncaster eight years ago has now won at the Cheltenham Festival five times and landed the Grand National twice, and will go down as one of the true greats of National Hunt racing.
The Godolphin consignment to the Goffs UK August Sale of 2019 contained another unraced three-year-old who was sold for a snip before becoming a superstar, albeit in a very different discipline.
It took James Macauley just £2,800 to buy Sceptical, a son of Exceed And Excel and Queen Mary Stakes heroine Jealous Again, and he subsequently sent the gelding to Denis Hogan to be trained.
Hogan worked the oracle with Sceptical, saddling him to win four of his first five starts including the Woodlands Stakes, before the horse ran placed in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and July Cup. Those efforts earned £125,000 for connections.
Tragedy struck when Sceptical suffered a fatal leg injury on the gallops last August, but what a lot he managed to fit into those 12 months after being bought for buttons.
The only trouble with those rags-to-riches stories is that they can mislead you into thinking they’re easy to find. Surely that well-bred horse with no or little form in a catalogue is a potential Group 1 winner who just needs more time or a change of scenery?
Probably not. The sad truth is that Tiger Roll and Sceptical are the exceptions and the majority of horses of racing age in bread and butter sales are discarded for good reasons, for all that many will win a few minor races at home or abroad for their new owners.
Undaunted, I’ve delved into this year’s Goffs UK August Sale entries in search of more Cinderella tales among the horses in training, who go under the hammer today. Sadly, there are none this time around from Godolphin, the vendor of Tiger Roll and Sceptical, but there are plenty of other interesting drafts to spark dreams.
Burma Sky (lot 15) is an unraced three-year-old Muhaarar half-brother to two dual winners including the high-class handicapper Burmese Waltz. He is being consigned by Charlie Hills’ Faringdon Place Stables, which sold the subsequently successful The Twisler and Wolf Of Windlesham for small prices at other horses in training sales.
Torbruk (16), another unraced three-year-old, is being sent up by Richard Fahey’s Musley Bank Stables on behalf of his owner-breeder Sir Robert Odgen. He has a striking pedigree as he is bred on the same Fastnet Rock-Galileo cross as European-trained Group 1 winners Intricately, Qualify, Rivet and Zhukova, and is out of Musidora Stakes third Pandora.
Cedar Rapids (48), the Australia three-year-old half-brother to Pandora trained by Tim Easterby, comes with health warnings as he has shown greenness and carried his head high despite having various headgear applied on his five runs this summer. But several of his siblings have only hit their stride at four and older, and he might just still be immature, so he could make a long-term project for someone.
For those with deeper pockets, there are also plenty of point-to-point and bumper winners on offer today and some choicely bred National Hunt yearlings and stores selling tomorrow – including a Jack Hobbs half-brother to staying hurdle ace Thyme Hill (384).
Whatever section of the catalogue you’re looking in, and however much money you have to spend, here’s wishing you the best of luck in unearthing a rare super-bargain like Tiger Roll or Sceptical.
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Good Morning Bloodstock is our latest email newsletter. Martin Stevens, a doyen among bloodstock journalists, provides his take and insight on the biggest stories every morning from Monday to Friday