Dawn of a new era as Godolphin buy €1.2 million Galileo filly
James Thomas reports from a dramatic first day of the Orby Sale
The shockwaves that reverberated around Keeneland a few days ago when Godolphin purchased yearlings by Coolmore sires reached seismic proportions during the early stages of the Goffs Orby Sale in Kildare on Tuesday.
This time Sheikh Mohammed's buying team, marshalled by John Gosden, outbid Coolmore themselves at €1.2 million for a filly by none other than Galileo.
The Sheikh's refusal to bid at auction for the stock of the County Tipperary farm's perennial champion stallion has been widely considered the most conspicuous price, to his own operation, of his decade-long boycott. But whether by coincidence or not, there has evidently been a change of strategy since the resignation in June of the Sheikh's long-serving senior bloodstock adviser John Ferguson.
Huddled on the third tier of the auditorium, Gosden - accompanied by Anthony Stroud and David Loder - delivered short nods in the direction of auctioneer Henry Beeby that saw the price for the Ballylinch Stud-consigned filly, the first foal of Meydan Group 2 winner L'Amour De Ma Vie, begin a steep upward trajectory.
All the while, standing directly below Gosden and his cohorts, was Coolmore's MV Magnier, who went toe to toe with his rivals until a knockout bid of €1.2m saw the gavel come down to a dumbstruck auditorium.
"David, John and I all thought she's a very athletic filly," was all a tight-lipped Anthony Stroud said after signing the docket. "She's from a good racemare and from a very good stud. She's the sort of filly that will add to what we already have at Godolphin. The choke was out so we couldn't have gone much further."
There were distinct shades of a bygone era with Godolphin and Coolmore clashing in the sales ring, with Ferguson's acquisition of Marina Gamba at Tattersalls back in 2004 the last time that a yearling by Galileo was picked up by Sheikh Mohammed at public auction.
There had been some speculation that Godolphin would buy a yearling by Galileo at the Arqana August Sale. That scenario failed to materialise, but Sheikh Mohammed's team did go on to secure the progeny of various Coolmore stallions at Keeneland, namely Australia, Scat Daddy, Lookin At Lucky and Uncle Mo.
There are, of course, two sides to every transaction, and the filly's sale also represented a significant return for Ballylinch Stud, who parted with €600,000 for L'Amour De Ma Vie, a daughter of Dansili, from the Arqana Breeding Stock Sale in 2015 when the €1.2m filly was in utero.
"We're obviously delighted," said Ballylinch's John O'Connor. "This kind of filly is rare enough to come by, so we thought she'd sell well. She's a great mover with an even temperament, just like her mother.
"We bought the mare carrying her at Arqana in December 2015. I loved her race record and, of course, she was a Danehill-line mare in foal to Galileo. Everything aligned and we managed to buy her."
Despite the eye-watering sums now associated with L'Amour De Ma Vie, she herself had rather more humble beginnings as part of Prince Saud bin Khaled's Chanteclair dispersal at Keeneland in 2011, where she fetched just $30,000 from Pegasus Farms - a bargain sum given that she went on to win a pair of stakes races and £193,760 while in the care of Pia Brandt.
L'Amour De Ma Vie does not have a foal on the ground but is back in foal to Dubawi.
The Godolphin buying team finished the session with three lots purchased for a total spend of €2,035,000.
The Showcasing show
Among Godolphin's trio was a Showcasing colt offered by Hollyhill Stud on behalf of Lady O'Reilly's Skymarc Farm who fetched €460,000. The colt boasted a significant update, as his two-year-old half-sister Dark Rose Angel had not only won since the catalogue's publication, but had also been beaten just a head into second in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes on her latest outing.
"It's nice to buy one from Lady O'Reilly," said Stroud. "Obviously there's a good update - the filly with Simon Crisford looks good - and he was a very nice, athletic colt to go with it."
The January born colt is the second foal out of Roseraie, a winning two-year-old daughter of Lawman who also finished third in the 2012 Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes. She is a half-sister Listed winner Rose Bonheur and out of the Group 3-winning and Group 1-placed Red Feather.
The colt, conceived at a fee of just £15,000, becomes comfortably the most expensive progeny of Whitsbury Manor Stud's Showcasing to be sold at public auction.
The sire has enjoyed a fruitful few days, with his leading performer Quiet Reflection making an impressive return to action and one of his sons topping the Tattersalls Ireland September Sale when going the way of Michael O'Hagan for an auction-record €230,000.
Cheveley Park go again
Cheveley Park Stud has been on the front foot of late, having secured a number of juveniles throughout the breeze-ups, a pair of rare purchases at Keeneland, as well as adding Ulysses and Unfortunately to its future stallion roster.
And Patricia and David Thompson's operation made a sizeable impact during the Orby's opening session when going to €580,000 for an Invincible Spirit filly from Kilcarn Stud.
"She's a gorgeous filly with a pedigree that's happening," said the stud's Chris Richardson of the daughter of the Group 3-winning Galileo mare Prima Luce, who descends from the family of Cassandra Go, Halfway To Heaven and Rhododendron.
"Halfway To Heaven is by Pivotal so in future there's a bit of an angle there with regards to the bloodlines that we have. She's a nice, balanced filly with great bone and depth, but she's a filly with a future back at the farm whatever she does on the racetrack."
Late in the day Richardson again made a significant play, seeing off a host of challengers for a Dark Angel filly from Yeomanstown Stud with a bid of €390,000.
"She's a nice filly and is very typical of the family," noted Richardson. "She's an April foal so she's definitely going to develop further. Mrs Thompson will make the decision over who will train these horses once the sales are over.
"There aren't too many of these fillies with a bit of pedigree so you have to pay a bit of a premium for them."
The filly is out of the Listed-placed Kheleyf mare The Hermitage, which makes her a sister to Perfect Angel, who was runner-up to Harry Angel in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at two.
Invincible the Order of the day
Shadwell, fresh from a $12.4m spend in Keeneland, got in on the action when signing for a son of Invincible Spirit consigned by Croom House Stud at €350,000. The May born colt is the second foal out of Kitty Love, a winning Kitten's Joy half-sister to four black type winners, most notably the Arc-bound Order Of St George.
"He's a lovely quality colt, he's a May foal so there's a lot of improvement in him," said the operation's Stephen Collins. "He's athletic, a very active walker and seemed to have a very good temperament. Sheikh Hamdan has been in Ireland for the last three or four days looking at his homebred yearlings and this horse fits in very nicely with what we have back at the farm."
Despite the staying power displayed by his dam's half-brother, Collins expects the colt to prove rather more speedy.
"There's a bit of speed in the family as well as stamina when you go back to Storm Song, who was a champion filly in America," he said. "Sometimes these traits can skip a generation. He won't be an early type and could be a seven to ten furlong horse in time, there's lots of options for him. Sheikh Hamdan will make a decision over who will train which yearlings once all the sales are over."
Agent John McCormack stepped up to the plate with a winning bid of €350,000 for a Lope De Vega filly offered by Pier House Stud. The half-sister to Poule d'Essai des Pouliches heroine Elusive Wave is now bound for a career in Japan.
"She'll head to Japan on behalf a client," said McCormack. "I suspect she might race over there simply because of the prize-money - she doesn't have to be that good to win her price tag back and then if she got Japanese black-type, it would translate very well to their market down the line.
"She's by a real up-and-coming sire in Lope De Vega. His good mares are starting to come through now and I can see him really breaking out in the near future. I think Ballylinch are probably sitting on a real goldmine with him - I'm thrilled for them.
"She also comes from a very good breeder [Pier House Stud] - they bred the winner of the Natalma Stakes last week in Canada [Capla Temptress], another Lope De Vega filly. So when you get a nice physical with a proven top side and bottom to the pedigree, it gives you a good comfort zone to go that bit further."
McCormack's purchase is out of the Rainbow Quest mare Multicolour Wave, who has produced seven winners, including Elusive Wave who was picked up by MV Magnier for 800,000gns prior to her private sale to Northern Farm in Japan.
Elusive Wave has made a notable impact in Japan as the dam of a pair of Deep Impact colt foals that topped the past two editions of the JRHA Select Sale at ¥280m (£1,863,000/€2,117,375) and ¥580m (£3,859,000/€4,385,995).
"Elusive Wave is in Japan and she's doing well out there. I followed in her Deep Impact foal this year at the sale, so I know she's getting nice stock and that she suits Deep Impact well," McCormack added.
End of an era
The progeny of Spirit Of Tara have enjoyed some memorable days at the Orby Sale, most notable her sale-topping trio Echo Of Light, who required a bid of €1.2m in 2003, Irish History, who brought €950,000 in 2010, and impressive maiden winner Tocco D'Amore, who fetched €2m in 2015.
During Tuesday's session the last yearling out of Pat O'Kelly's star mare took his turn in the Goffs ring, and duly went the way of Justin Casse, who parted with €120,000 on behalf of Zayat Stables.
"Obviously it's hard to buy into that kind of pedigree," said Casse, "and especially when it's by a stallion like Invincible Spirit. So for us, he's value. He has a stallion's pedigree.
"With fillies, you can think outside the box a little bit. But with colts, it's not so easy. When you're looking to bring them home to the US, you don't want to do any explaining. This is the kind of pedigree that speaks for itself."
The colt is a half-brother to six winners, most notably the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein winner Echo Of Light and Listed winner Akarem, who also sold at the Orby Sale and fetched €500,000 back in 2002.
By the close of trade 195 of the 228 lots had changed hands, for a clearance rate of 85 per cent.
The aggregate stood at €21,140,000, up two per cent on the figure at the same stage 12 months ago, while the average remained static at €108,410 and the median took a slight dip to €67,000.