Classic credentials push breeze-up graduates into the limelight
Nancy Sexton on the best runners from the class of '18
When East closed into second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf at Churchill Downs, she became the 16th breeze-up graduate of 2018 to gain a Group 1 bracket.
Along the way, there had been a Classic winner in Teppal, a top-class sprinter in Sands Of Mali, a Belmont Stakes runner-up in Gronkowski and durable customers like Thundering Blue and Brando to highlight a very productive year.
That is testament to the quality we have come to expect out of the breeze-up sales.
Since Speciosa, a graduate of Mocklershill, became the first Classic winner to emerge out of the breeze-up system in the 2006 1,000 Guineas, the circuit has been represented by a host of household names.
Grove Stud graduate The Grey Gatsby, for instance, added his name to the Classic roll of honour when successful in the 2014 Prix du Jockey Club en route to defeating Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes.
His exploits followed swiftly in the aftermath of champion Dream Ahead. Sold by Tally-Ho Stud at Goffs UK, he went on to sweep five Group 1 races for David Simcock, including the Middle Park Stakes and Prix de la Foret.
They provide a fine snapshot of the versatility often on offer at the breeze-up sales. Understandably in an arena that rewards the presence of natural talent, a number tend to come to hand early.
Dream Ahead was one such horse as were Ardad and Prince Of Lir, both of whom struck at Royal Ascot within months of their purchase. Another quick two-year-old, July Stakes and Richmond Stakes winner Mehmas, broke his maiden less than a month after selling at the Tattersalls Craven Sale.
Quiet Reflection, meanwhile, captured the Cornwallis Stakes on her final start at two before becoming one of the most accomplished sprinters of our time, with wins in the Commonwealth Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup to her credit.
Yet at the other end of the spectrum, the breeze-up system can also claim Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris as one of its own. Sold by Mocklershill at the 2013 Tattersalls Guineas Sale, he came to be at the top of his game as an older horse, much in the same manner as Mshawish, another accomplished breezer of that era who mixed it at Grade 1 level on turf and dirt, and indeed popular campaigners of today such as Brando, Stormy Antarctic, Thundering Blue, Robin Of Navan and Hunt, successful in last year’s Shoemaker Mile Stakes at Santa Anita.
It’s early days but 2019 already has the hallmarks of a fruitful year.
In America, all eyes are on War Of Will as he bids to consolidate his position near the head of the Kentucky Derby market. Arguably turf bred as a War Front half-brother to Pathfork, the breeze-up scene couldn’t ask for a stronger current representative than Mark Casse’s colt in terms of versatility aligned with talent.
And it is very possible that he could be joined at Churchill Downs by another Arqana breezer in Divine Image, a live fancy for the Kentucky Oaks. She is one of several smart breezers sourced last season by Godolphin. Another, La Pelosa, won last year’s Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
Closer to home, it will be fascinating to see how the highly regarded pair East and Kadar, the winner of his only juvenile start last season for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, fare over the upcoming months. East, who topped last year’s Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale when sold by Greenhills Farm to Stephen Hillen for €315,000, is as short as 14-1 for the 1,000 Guineas.
There is also a good word for Fashion’s Star, who made a striking winning debut for Roger Charlton at Newbury last September. In France it would be wrong to underestimate last year’s Criterium International third Graignes, who holds an entry in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains alongside fellow breezers Al Aresh, Bye Bye Hong Kong, Global Spectrum and Kuwait Currency.
THREE OF THE BEST
SANDS OF MALI
b c Panis - Kadiania
Sold at the 2017 Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Breeze-Up Sale by Bansha House Stables to Cool Silk Partnership / Stroud Coleman Bloodstock for £75,000
A tough, sound performer, Sands Of Mali won his first three starts at two, culminating in the Gimcrack Stakes in which he soundly beat fellow breezer Invincible Army.
He returned last year to bag the Prix Sigy and Sandy Lane Stakes and after several creditable efforts, notably when falling only half a length short of Eqtidaar in the Commonwealth Cup, returned to winning ways in the British Champions Sprint Stakes.
Sands Of Mali remains in training this season and should once again take high order within the sprint division for Richard Fahey.
b f Camacho - Jummana
Sold at the 2017 Arqana May Sale by Bansha House Stables to Blandford Bloodstock for €105,000
Teppal joined the Classic roll of honour last May when successful in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp for David Simcock.
That victory marked the culmination of a spell of rapid progression for the Camacho filly, who had previously won both her two-year-old starts at Lingfield and Kempton.
WAR OF WILL
b c War Front - Visions Of Clarity
Sold at the 2018 Arqana May Sale by Oak Tree Farm to Justin Casse for €250,000
Should War Of Will and Divine Image make it to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, Arqana will be in the remarkable position of having sold live chances for two of America’s premier Classics out of last year’s breeze-up sale.
War Of Will sits near the head of the Kentucky Derby betting following easy victories in two of the major Louisiana preps, the Lecomte and Risen Star Stakes.
In keeping with his pedigree, however, the colt was also high-class on turf last season, notably when running a close second in the Summer Stakes at Woodbine.
Divine Image, meanwhile, has the Kentucky Oaks on her agenda following a productive spell at the Dubai Carnival. The daughter of Scat Daddy, who was purchased by Godolphin Ireland for €360,000 from Yeomanstown Stud, has won three of her four starts for Charlie Appleby and was last seen running out the easy winner of the Al Bastakiya at Meydan.
Prepare for the breeze-up season with our 16-page supplement packed with unmissable features including:
- The breeze-up graduates to follow for 2019
- Cool Silk partnership benefiting from change in sales policy
- Robson Aguiar and Hetta Stevens on their first breeze-up consignments
- Local industry insiders join our jury on the big issues of the new season
- Simon Rowlands with the lowdown for shrewd purchasers