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Top of the lots: the most expensive National Hunt prospects sold in 2020

James Thomas charts the priciest lots in a record-breaking year for jumps sales

Apple's Jade takes centre stage at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale
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Despite much disruption to the point-to-point, racing and sales calendars this year, the surge in demand at the top end of the jumps market continued uninterrupted.

Records have been set - and equalled - for the most sought after National Hunt racing and breeding prospects and we take a look back at the five biggest prices registered at jumps sales throughout 2020.

4yo b g Walk In The Park - Star Face (Saint Des Saints)
Consigned by Coolmeen Stables
Bought by JP McManus for £570,000

Few, if any, point-to-pointers have ever been offered amid the kind of hype that surrounded Jonbon when he came under the hammer at the Goffs UK November P2P Sale at Yorton Farm. He did not disappoint.

The son of Walk In The Park had plenty to recommend him, as not only is he a brother to the mighty Douvan, winner of no fewer than eight Grade 1 contests, he had made a flawless debut between the flags when coasting home 15 lengths clear in a Dromahane maiden for Ellmarie Holden and Derek O'Connor.

That performance saw him given the highest point-to-point rating ever allotted, which gave a big hint that he has the ability to live up to his illustrious pedigree. An unlikely bidding duel ensued as JP McManus, bidding over the phone, locked horns with the little-known Anthony Barney, an owner with Leicestershire trainer Laura Morgan.

Jonbon in the Yorton Farm sales ring

Try as Barney might, it was McManus who eventually prevailed at £570,000. That sum set a new record price for a point-to-pointer sold at public auction, comfortably eclipsing the £480,000 given for the ill-fated Flemenshill in January 2017.

Jonbon already held a sales ring record of sorts, as he is believed to be the most expensive store ever sent to the pointing field, having fetched €140,000 from Paul Holden and Michael Shefflin at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale on his first appearance at public auction.

It was subsequently revealed McManus would be sending Jonbon to Nicky Henderson. The master of Seven Barrows said: "We're delighted and very lucky to get to train him. I've seen the video of him and he seems like a beautiful horse so it's exciting for everyone. When a horse costs that much there's always a bit of pressure, but we'll enjoy it, I hope."

Classic Getaway
4yo br g Getaway - Classic Magic (Classic Cliche)
Consigned by Monbeg Stables
Bought by Tom Malone and Gordon Elliott for £570,000

Remarkably, only five weeks after Jonbon smashed the record price for a point-to-pointer, the £570,000 mark was hit for a second time when Classic Getaway took to the stage at the Goffs UK December P2P Sale.

Donnchadh Doyle's four-year-old may not have had the assistance of a celebrity sibling to help capture buyers' imagination, but in the event it mattered little. There had been plenty of whispers for the son of Getaway before he debuted at Borris House, and he lived up to his lofty reputation when he powered to a deeply impressive eight-length success under Rob James.

Having missed out on Jonbon, Anthony Barney made another almighty impact when Classic Getaway came on the market, with his representative Robin Woodward on bidding duties at Yorton Farm. However, despite Barney and Woodward's best attempts, they again filled the role of underbidder.

Classic Getaway sells for £570,000 in the Yorton Farm sales ring

After a protracted round of bidding it was agent Tom Malone who proved the most determined, as he secured the record-equalling lot in conjunction with Gordon Elliott on behalf of an undisclosed client.

That transaction not only saw Classic Getaway enter the record books, but also provided Doyle with a handsome return on the £65,000 he invested at the Goffs UK Spring Store Sale when the strapping physical specimen was offered by Ballincurrig House Stud.

"He's a very special horse and I was lucky to buy him," said Doyle. "You wouldn't come across horses like him every day as a store, not at that price, but it's worked out great. Coming up here I thought he'd make somewhere between three and four [hundred thousand] and that would have been a great price. But that was just a different level. It's amazing."

Apple's Jade
8yo b m Saddler Maker - Apple's For Ever (Nikos)
Consigned by Gigginstown House Stud
Bought by Bective Stud for €530,000

It is incredibly uncommon for a mare to reach the level Apple's Jade reached on the racecourse, and it is even more unusual that they should appear at public auction once their time on the track is over.

However, the 11-time Grade 1-winning hurdler duly appeared at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale, with racing manager Eddie O'Leary saying: "Gigginstown has never been about having a National Hunt breeding programme, which is why she will be offered for sale at Goffs in December. Apple's Jade could be the ultimate blue hen for any serious National Hunt operation."

The eight-year-old daughter of Saddler Maker, who was offered in foal to Walk In The Park, drew as sizeable a crowd as Covid-19 restrictions would allow but, after an opening offer of €200,000, matters boiled down to a straight duel between her trainer Gordon Elliott and members of the Coolmore team.

Bective Stud's Noel and Valerie Moran

As was so often the case during 2020's round of sales, it was Elliott who emerged victorious. A bid of €530,000 was required to bring the gavel down, a figure that smashed the 13-year-old record for a National Hunt broodmare prospect at public auction, which had been set when Graham Wylie acquired the unbeaten Feathard Lady through Howard Johnson for 270,000gns at the Doncaster August Sales.

It emerged that Elliott had been acting on behalf of Noel and Valerie Moran of Bective Stud, with plans now calling for Apple's Jade to form the cornerstone of the couple's burgeoning breeding operation.

"It will probably be an extremely long time before we see the likes of her in a sales ring again," said Noel Moran. "She's an 11-time Grade 1 winner and mares like her are next to impossible to come across. We're delighted to get her and the plan is to retain her progeny and race them."

Grangeclare West
4yo b g Presenting - Hayabusa (Sir Harry Lewis)
Consigned by Ballyboy Stables
Bought by Cheveley Park Stud and Gordon Elliott for £430,000

The Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale was switched from Prestbury Park to Park Paddocks in Newmarket. However, despite being moved from the home of jumps racing to Flat headquarters, it was very much business as usual in the ring.

There had been a big word for Grangeclare West after the son of Presenting landed a Lingstown maiden for Ballyboy Stables' Denis Murphy and Jamie Codd by clear water, and, with his performance backed up by a stunning physique, some of the biggest National Hunt buyers went in hot pursuit.

Grangeclare West struts his stuff at Tattersalls

Despite the best efforts of Tom Malone, the gavel fell in favour of Cheveley Park Stud, whose owner David Thompson made a rare sales ring appearance, and Gordon Elliott at £430,000. The result saw Grangeclare West become Presenting's most expensive offspring sold at public auction, and duly provided connections with a chunky windfall. 

"He was a beautiful individual and a great walking horse," said Joey Logan, who had paid €62,000 for the high-class prospect at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale.

"I'd actually seen him at Dick Frisby's before the Derby Sale and loved him and had been looking forward to trying to buy him. It's worked out great and I hope he's very lucky for his new connections. That was a phenomenal price and we weren't expecting it." 

4yo b g Walk In The Park - Tina Rederie (Cadoudal)
Consigned by Cullentra House Stables
Bought by Bective Stud for €470,000

It says plenty about the firepower at Gordon Elliott's disposal that three of the five horses on this list are now based at his Cullentra House Stables. Moreover, Elliott also had a big say in the fortunes of the only broodmare prospect in this list, having trained Apple's Jade as well as bidding on her on behalf of new owners Noel and Valerie Moran of Bective Stud.

The Morans' desire for blue-chip bloodstock was also in evidence at the Cheltenham November Sale, which was held in Fairyhouse this year, as they went to €470,000 for the exciting Ginto, who joined Classic Getaway and Grangeclare West at Elliott's yard.

The son of Walk In The Park had, in fact, been saddled by Elliott when winning a Tattersalls Farm maiden by 12 lengths shortly before his sale, after he had been bought by the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate through Mags O'Toole for €60,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale.

Gordon Elliott: could run a major springer for the Cheltenham festival at Fairyhouse

"Obviously Gordon already trained Ginto and he's shown us all the right signs from day one," said Elliott's bloodstock agent Aidan 'Mouse' O'Ryan.

"He showed himself to be a very high-class horse when he won his point-to-point. We were very anxious to keep him in the yard and thankfully Noel Moran bought him to stay with us. Hopefully he'll be very lucky for his new owner now as he could go right to the very top."

Ginto is one of two names in the top five National Hunt prices of the year by Coolmore's Grange Stud resident Walk In The Park, while Apple's Jade was also sold in foal to the son of Montjeu. 

More to read: 

The most expensive lots of 2020

Where the value lies among the 2021 covering fees 

Just A Way sires first Grade 1 winner

Expert Eye's half-brother off the mark at Newcastle for Stoute

Shadwell reveal the Group 1-winning names among Mohaather's debut book of mares

'He's a global commodity' - Frankel fever at Goffs as three lots fetch €440,000

That was a phenomenal price and we weren't expecting it
E.W. Terms