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Fairley has an ace after drawing Cardsharp dam from the pack

Highflyer Productions chairman paid 18,000gns for Pure Illusion

Cardsharp - whose dam was sold by Godolphin last year - wins the July Stakes
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As Godolphin continues its reduction of breeding stock at Tattersalls this week, the racing action down the road at the July course on Thursday demonstrated the appeal of mares bought from Sheikh Mohammed's operation.

The result also went to show that it is not just the expensive acquisitions that are worthy of consideration.

For Cardsharp, a Lonhro colt owned by Sheikh Mohammed's son Sheikh Hamdan and a decisive winner of the Group 2 July Stakes, is out of Pure Illusion – a 14-year-old bought by John Fairley for 18,000gns from the Godolphin draft at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale last year.

Fairley – chairman of Highflyer, the company that produced Channel 4 Racing for many years – was not an Newmarket to see how his investment had appreciated in value, instead attending the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.

But the jubilation was obvious even over the phone. "It was a wonderful result and I'm just really, really happy," he said. "She's a lovely mare and she has a Night Of Thunder filly foal in France, as the mare was over there to be covered by Dariyan."

Dariyan, a Prix Ganay-winning son of Shamardal, stood his first season at his owner-breeder the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval this year.

His concubine Pure Illusion may have been a winning, well-bred Danehill mare but as her three winning offspring had failed to gain black type at the time of her sale it is perhaps understandable Godolphin deemed her expendable.

Little could anyone have known the unnamed 2015 colt by Lonhro on the catalogue page last November would turn out to be Cardsharp, a three-time winner and also placed in the Woodcote and Norfolk Stakes for Mark Johnston.

John Fairley: chairman of Highflyer Productions struck gold at the broodmare sales

"I had no idea he might be above average," said Fairley. "I know Mark and Deirdre Johnston a bit, and knew they had the colt, but I didn't know how good he might be until he he won the conditions race at Beverley. That was a great day."

Another notable update came courtesy of Pure Illusion's half-sister Well Spoken, whose grandson Cunco won the Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial in April.

Fairley, who lives within the estate of John Quinn's racing stables in Malton, said he would try to resist the temptation to cash in on his bargain purchase.

"Will we sell the foal? Perhaps not," he said. "I'm keen to race despite the financial considerations – especially so as she's a filly."

He could have other sources of income at the sales anyway. Pure Illusion is one of three mares he owns and another is Wendy House, a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro and Grade 1-placed Silent Eskimo whose Camelot yearling colt is set to come under the hammer in the autumn.

Fairley is not the only breeder to have dipped into Godolphin drafts as the organisation attempts to rationalise numbers, and benefited from precious pedigree updates this year.

Perfect Note, the dam of this month's Prix de Malleret heroine Strathspey, was bought by Blandford Bloodstock for 110,000gns just 12 lots before Pure Illusion last November; while Tessa Reef, the dam of Dante and King Edward VII Stakes scorer Permian, was bought on behalf of Camas Park Stud for 65,000gns in November 2015.

I didn't know how good Cardsharp might be until he he won the conditions race at Beverley. That was a great day
E.W. Terms
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