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Five of the most spectacular horse trades from the 2019 sales circuit

James Thomas runs the rule over the season's best bits of business

Summer Sands parades in front of the packed gangway at Tattersalls
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Ocean Atlantique
2yo bay colt American Pharoah - Tare Green (Giant's Causeway)
Sold by Grove Stud to Broadhurst Agency
$275,000 > €1,100,000

The appearance of two-year-olds from the debut crop of US Triple Crown hero American Pharoah brought an extra layer of intrigue to this year's breeze-up circuit, and interested onlookers watched on in amazement when this colt topped a strong edition of Arqana's sale.

He was pinhooked by Grove Stud's Brendan Holland, a past master of the breeze-up game whose graduates include The Grey Gatsby, Stormy Antarctic and Rosdhu Queen. Holland gave the not inconsiderable sum of $275,000 (£212,525/€247,965) to bring the youngster back from Keeneland's mammoth September Yearling Sale to his base in Cork.

Brendan Holland (left) with Joseph O'Brien
While many will associate the breeze-ups with precocious two-year-old types, Ocean Atlantique boasted an abundance of size and scope, and showcased his pace with an impressive pre-sale breeze down the back straight at Deauville.

That workout caught the attention of the Coolmore team, who, through Laurent Benoit of Broadhurst Agency, secured the colt with a bid of €1.1 million - a 344 per cent increase on his yearling valuation.

The sale-topping American Pharoah colt in the Arqana ring
"This is the first horse I've sold for more than a million and it's a great feeling, no doubt," said Holland in the aftermath of the sale. "When it gets past a certain price you can enjoy it, by that stage you're willing it on, it's like backing a horse and he's five lengths clear with a furlong to go!"

As was to be expected - given both his substantial frame and the fact he was sent into training with Andre Fabre - Ocean Atlantique did not debut until mid-September, and showed the benefit of that initial experience when streaking eight lengths clear in a Saint-Cloud maiden on his second outing.

Divine Spirit
2yo bay filly Kingman - Shyrl (Acclamation)
Sold by Tally-Ho Stud to Godolphin
92,000gns > 850,000gns

The O'Callaghans of Tally-Ho Stud are well known for standing high-achieving stallions such as Kodiac and Society Rock and breeding Group 1 winners like Fairyland, Sky Lantern and Unfortunately, but they are also among the shrewdest pinhookers around.

During the Tattersalls December Yearling Sale, Roger O'Callaghan and bloodstock agent Matt Coleman picked up a Kingman filly out of the Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Shyrl for 92,000gns, which, even at the time, looked fair value given the talents of the dam and the rapid ascendancy of the sire.

Divine Spirit in the Tattersalls sales ring
And, having been through Tally-Ho's breeze-up academy, the filly proved the market's initial assessment to be all wrong, as she returned to Tattersalls for the Craven Sale in mid-April, where she proceeded to produce a blistering pre-sale gallop.

Sheikh Mohammed himself was in town for the Craven Sale, and as his advisers were among the host of big hitters who followed the filly into the ring, it soon became apparent something major was brewing. She was knocked down to Anthony Stroud at 850,000gns - over nine times what she fetched as a yearling.

Anthony Stroud and Sheikh Mohammed in discussion
Having gone into training with Charlie Appleby, the filly made a winning debut a little over a month after her sale-topping exploits, and gained valuable black type when runner-up behind Al Raya in the Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg.

Summer Sands
2yo bay colt Coach House - Koharu (Ishiguru)
Sold by Musley Bank Stables to Joseph O'Brien
£2,000 > £85,000 > 625,000gns

So steeply has Summer Sands' price risen in his three sales ring visits, he arguably deserves two spots on this list. Amazingly, given his most recent sale, the son of Coach House fetched just £2,000 when initially offered by Trickledown Stud at the Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale.

Robson Aguiar was the man who struck the winning bid that day, and he duly set about preparing his purchase for an appearance at the Ascot breeze-up sale, which took place less than seven months later.

Despite having been among the bargain basement end of the price list at the yearling sale, Aguiar's judgement was validated in no uncertain terms when Summer Sands put in a bullet workout at the breeze-up auction.

Robson Aguiar puts Summer Sands through his paces at Ascot
That impressive display caught the eye of Matt Coleman and the Cool Silk Partnership, who went to £85,000 - the joint-second highest price of the day - to secure the speedy individual.

The identity of the purchasers could have been called a good omen, as the same team also unearthed subsequent Group 1 winner Sands Of Mali from the Ascot breeze-up sale. They sent Sands Of Mali into training with Richard Fahey, who also took charge of Summer Sands.

At the time of his sale, the Brazilian-born Aguiar said: "He's got plenty of speed and has a very good action. When I bought him here he was a nice scopey yearling, and I liked that the dam had won twice over six furlongs. I think he'll be a Listed horse at least."

The vendor's assertion proved spot on, as the colt won two races from six starts for Fahey, including the Listed Redcar Two Year Old Trophy. However, arguably his most eye-catching run came on his penultimate start, when he finished a staying-on third behind Earthlight in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes.

Joseph O'Brien (centre) will train Summer Sands in 2020
Those efforts piqued the interest of Joseph O'Brien, who struck an auction-topping bid of 625,000gns to add Summer Sands to his string at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale. Having fetched over 328 times what Aguiar paid for the colt as a yearling, O'Brien's purchase rounded off a genuine rags-to-riches story

Wide Receiver
4yo bay gelding Sholokhov - Sagarich (Sagamix)
Sold by Leamore Horses to Tom Malone and Gordon Elliott
€25,000 > £410,000

The top end of the point-to-point market has remained in rude health throughout 2019, meaning some punchy pinhooking successes have been landed along the way. However, few - if any - can claim to have struck gold quite like Cormac Farrell did when he offered Wide Receiver at the Tattersalls Cheltenham February Sale.

Farrell, who runs the Leamore Horses operation with his wife Anna Calder, picked the son of Sholokhov out from among the 405 stores offered at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale in 2018.

A bid of €25,000 was required that day, and if that doesn't exactly sound like loose change, it is worth bearing in mind that the average price at that year's Derby Sale was more than double what Farrell paid at €51,560.

Cormac Farrell: pinhooked Wide Receiver at €25,000
Having prepared Wide Receiver from Leamore's base in Bunclody, County Wexford, Farrell unleashed the youngster in a four-year-old maiden at Cragmore in February, less than eight months after purchasing the gelding.

Under jockey Simon Cavanagh, Wide Receiver proceeded to bolt up by eight lengths. Just 11 days later he appeared at the Tattersalls Cheltenham February Sale, where he topped trade at £410,000 when knocked down to Tom Malone and Gordon Elliott.

Wide Receiver taking it all in at the Tattersalls Cheltenham February Sale
"He was a real athlete, a big, rangy horse who was weak and backward, but we thought he was very well bought at the time and that's proved to be the case," Farrell said when asked about finding Wide Receiver at the store sales, before adding: "This is a once in a lifetime situation."

Wide Receiver has already gone some way to justifying his lofty price-tag having landed a Navan bumper on debut for Elliott, where he carried the Gigginstown House Stud colours.

Lot 798, Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale
Bay colt Cable Bay - Ballet Move (Oasis Dream)
Sold by Culworth Grounds Farm to Shadwell Estate Company
€4,000 > 160,000gns

This colt may have brought the smallest sum on this list, but, given the humble origins of his story, his tale is arguably the most inspiring. The sharp upward trajectory of his price also says plenty about the keen eye of Sophie Buckley from Culworth Grounds Farm in Banbury, as she paid a mere €4,000 for the colt in November 2018.

Buckley proved that she'll leave no stone unturned in her hunt for pinhooking prospects, having picked the son of Cable Bay up at the Tattersalls Ireland Flat Foal and Breeding Stock Sale.

Sophie Buckley: pinhooked the Cable Bay colt out of Ballet Move for just €4,000
The dam - Ballet Move, a Juddmonte-bred daughter of Oasis Dream from the family of Enable - had already produced two winners when this colt went through the ring as a foal, albeit Kominik's victory came in the Czech Republic and Demi Plie was a two-time hurdles scorer.

However, the pedigree received its first major enhancement when the colt's half-brother Fifth Position, who was unraced when Buckley made her €4,000 purchase, beat the high-class Space Blues when breaking his maiden on his second outing at three, before gaining valuable black type when third in the Cocked Hat Stakes.

Cable Bay in his paddock at Highclere Stud
Moreover, the colt is from the second crop of Cable Bay, who had revealed himself to be one of the leading freshman of his generation by the time Buckley's pinhook returned to market, with over 20 winners to his credit, most notably the striking Molecomb Stakes scorer Liberty Beach.

Armed with a progressive pedigree and with 11 months at Culworth Grounds having seen the colt develop into a taking physical model, he caught the eye of Shadwell's chief talent spotter Angus Gold, who went to 160,000gns to add the youngster to Sheikh Hamdan's racing string and complete a staggering appreciation in value.


Read more:

Several surprises among the sires whose statistics stood out in 2019

Five exciting prospects to watch out for over the Christmas period

Essential reading for pedigree buffs in our Bloodstock Review of 2019

This is the first horse I've sold for more than a million and it's a great feeling
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