Consignor of Daban returns to scene of her big breakthrough
Ollie O'Donoghue talks to Katie McGivern on the eve of a big weekend
For pinhooker Katie McGivern, Friday begins a mad 72-hour dash between the breeze-up sales at Tattersalls, her home in County Meath - and then back to Newmarket in time to see Daban showcase her fledgling Derryconnor Stud in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.
The Acclamation filly - one of the leading fancies for the Classic after the Nell Gwyn - was bought back for 70,000gns by her breeder Kildaragh Stud at Tattersalls Book 2 in 2015. Later, McGivern received a call from Peter Kavanagh of Kildaragh, asking whether she might like to take the filly on.
McGivern could see the potential, not only in Daban, but also in her Azamour half-brother Thikriyaat - who made a winning debut for Sir Michael Stoute at Chelmsford nine days after the sale.
Just over six months later, Daban sold for 260,000gns to Blandford Bloodstock on behalf of owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah - the second most expensive purchase at last year's Guineas Breeze-Up Sale - while Thikriyaat, who had meanwhile won at the Craven meeting, would go on to win a Group 3 over a mile at Glorious Goodwood.
"Daban had very much a current pedigree - one that hadn't gone stale," says McGivern, 29. "She was a gorgeous filly, really sharp, a good grubber and had a good pedigree to go with it. Her physical matched up, and she set the fastest time at the sale.
"She has every live chance in the Guineas. Every breeze-up consignor hopes to sell a potential Classic winner. It's just fantastic, and helps bring you to the next level."
The filly's dam, Malaspina, is a 10-year-old daughter of Whipper. Placed four times in France, she is a half-sister to Johnny Barnes, second in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, and Group performers Albisola and Bufera. She is also a half-sister to Tonnara, dam of St James's Palace Stakes winner Most Improved - now standing at Coolmore - and the Criterium International winner Ectot.
Malaspina has a yearling sister to Daban and is due to foal to Free Eagle shortly. Her two-year-old by Pour Moi was sold to Seamus Durack for 95,000gns from Tattersalls Book 2 last October, and will run in the colours of Stephen Tucker.
In between the sales and Daban's date with destiny, McGivern will commute home to continue the preparation of a colt and two fillies for the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale.
It was at the same Deauville sale last year that McGivern - together with Mick Murphy and Sarah O'Connell of Longways Stables, in County Tipperary - sold a Siyouni colt for €105,000. Named Le Brivido, he has since gone on and won a maiden and conditions stakes for Andre Fabre and Prince Faisal Bin Khaled. Le Brivido holds entries to both the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club. It may yet be, then, that McGivern will find herself with two chances of Classic success, just seven days apart, should the colt line up in the Poulains.
McGivern is able to use the training facilities at Portlester Stables, where her mother Joanna Morgan used to train. Morgan was also involved in pinhooking and breeze-ups, bringing along a number of stakes performers, including the Listed winner Plume Rouge - granddam of last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas scorer Jet Setting.
"Closer to the time, I bring them on away gallops," McGivern explains. "The day away is good for them, and helps with their fitness. I wouldn't be too hard on them, though I did put Daban through an extra piece of work."
McGivern started pinhooking at the age of 18, and after a spell in racing yards, decided that her passion was for the sales and pinhooking. About five years ago, the "time was right" to branch out on her own as Derryconnor Stud, with her own yard. The number of horses in her care has risen from just one in the first two years, to 20 last year, and 26 this time round.
Of the half-dozen lots she breezed over the Rowley Mile yesterday, McGivern has liked the preparations of three in particular: a Canford Cliffs half-sister to the July Stakes second Orpen Grey, from the family of Dark Angel; a Dandy Man filly from the family of Dutch Connection; and a Helmet colt out of a granddaughter of Mehthaaf, winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas and - as seems appropriate - the Nell Gwyn Stakes.
"The Dandy Man is a five- or six-furlong filly, has a lovely way of going and should put in a solid breeze," McGivern said. "The Canford Cliffs filly is sharp and should be ready to run, while the Helmet is a smart five-furlong colt with a good attitude and should come up well."
Of those voyaging to France, McGivern has high hopes for an Invincible Spirit filly, a 40,000gns vendor buyback at Tattersalls Book 1 last autumn. She is out of a Pivotal half-sister to the Lancashire Oaks winner Under The Rainbow, these in turn being out of a half-sister to Group 1 winners Fragrant Mix and Alpine Rose.
The Tattersalls Guineas Breeze Up Sale, the catalogue also featuring 91 older horses-in-training, begins on Friday at 10am.