Frankel fever hits Orby Sale as €1.6 million colt takes centre stage
James Thomas reports on a lively day of trade in County Kildare
If the opening day of the Goffs Orby Sale belonged to Galileo - by virtue of Godolphin breaking their embargo on stock by the Coolmore colossus - then Wednesday's second session was all about his magnum opus Frankel after Justin Casse went to €1.6 million for a showstopping colt offered by Marlhill House Stud.
Trade had been simmering during the opening stages of the action but it reached boiling point as the Frankel colt entered the auditorium.
An opening bid of €100,000 was directed at auctioneer Henry Beeby but, with the likes of Kerri Radcliffe and Jeremy Brummitt among the underbidders, it wasn't long before the seven-figure ceiling was broken for the second time this week.
However, matters ultimately came down to a straight duel between Godolphin representative Anthony Stroud, standing on the uppermost tier, and American agent Justin Casse, standing with members of the Coolmore team on the level below.
The price continued to climb until Casse gave a bid of €1.6m, and with a resigned shake of his head Stroud declined to return fire.
"He'll be trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien," revealed Casse. "He's for the Zayats [owners of American Pharoah]. We came here looking for horses with stallion potential. Justin Zayat liked him and Aidan liked him, and the parties involved know all about making stallions. Plus, he's out of a young stakes-producing mare."
The March-born colt is a close relation to Norwegian Group 3 winner Giuseppe Piazzi, who had added the Scandinavian Open Championship to his CV since the catalogue's publication, and a half-brother to Australian Group 2 winner Adjusted.
Bred by Eddie Irwin's Rockhart Trading, he is the fifth foal out of the winning Xaar mare Belesta, who is herself out of the Prix de Royaumont winner Bellarida, which makes her a half-sister to Group 3 winner - and dam of Prix de l'Opera winner We Are - In Clover.
Casse has now purchased a quartet of Frankel yearlings around the globe, including Gidu, a €410,000 purchase from the 2016 Arqana August Sale who ran second on debut for Todd Pletcher and Zayat Stables at Saratoga in August.
O'Brien, meanwhile, has already enjoyed success with the progeny of Juddmonte's dual world champion, including with the Futurity Stakes winner Rostropovich, whose Dubawi half-sister was also bought by Casse on behalf of Everett Dobson's Cheyenne Stables for €400,000 earlier in the session.
Kingman colt collects
It takes guts as well as guile to pull off a 180,000gns pinhook, and Baroda and Colbinstown Studs showed a good deal of both as their Kingman colt fetched €650,000 to the bid of Roger Varian, who signed the ticket on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid.
Mick Flanagan formed part of the team that signed for the colt as a foal at Tattersalls, and the agent was understandably delighted with the return on their bold investment.
"We took a stand on him last year that if he came in under 200,000gns, we'd take a shot," he said. "He's got a proper pedigree - it can be hard to find those horses with the page and the physical but he fitted the bill. And the team at the stud did a great job with him over the winter.
"It's great that he's going to Roger too. We've been supporters of him from the beginning and I'm delighted that Roger and Hanako got him."
Bred by Knocktoran Stud, the colt is out of the winning Pivotal mare Go Lovely Rose, a sister to champion three-year-old filly Immortal Verse, and traces his family back to the likes of Group 1 winners Last Tycoon and Valentine Waltz.
His sale took Kingman's Orby average to €270,000.
Six-figure prices continued to fly well into the closing stages, including the €625,000 given by Peter Doyle for the Galileo filly out of Hawala offered by Barronstown Stud.
"It's a proper page and whatever she does, she will always be a valuable broodmare," said Doyle, who signed the docket on behalf of MV Magnier and Markus Jooste's Mayfair Speculators. "She's for the team - Coolmore and Mayfair - and was just a lovely filly. We loved her from the first time we saw her on Saturday."
As a sibling to no fewer than 11 winners, the filly boasts a quite sublime pedigree.
Among that number are Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Foxtrot Romeo, Group 3 winner Air Chief Marshal and the Listed-winning pair Slip Dance and Misu Bond, with the latter named duo already on the page when Barronstown bought Hawala through the BBA Ireland for 280,000gns at Tattersalls in December 2008.
"It's been a very good sale for us," noted Doyle. "We've bought plenty - all shapes and sizes and all prices!"
Agent Alastair Donald made a sizeable impact across the two sessions, and by the close of trade on Wednesday he and business partner Ed Sackville had signed for 19 lots at a total spend of €3,107,000 on behalf of a variety of clients.
"It's been a successful week," remarked Donald. "We've got some new clients who've got stuck in, and of course there's been some very good-looking horses to bid on. The Leicester City owner [Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha] has bought a handful and he's an exciting new player to the game."
Donald did not specify precisely how many of the yearlings were due to carry Srivaddhanaprabha's King Power Racing silks in the future, but it seems the owner has well and truly been bitten by the racing bug having spent £2.05m on six horses, including Tisbutadream and Straight Right, at the Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot in June.
Among Donald's most noteworthy purchases on Wednesday were a Dabirsim colt consigned by Gormanstown Stud who fetched €500,000, and a son of No Nay Never offered by Lynn Lodge Stud who brought a price of €325,000 late in the session.
"The Dabirsim is a stunning individual who I thought was the best moving horse in the sale. The sire is hot too - we loved him," noted the agent. "And No Nay Never has had some particularly striking-looking and imposing horses here. The colt out of Fancy was a gorgeous-looking horse. They've all been selling well and the word is good on him so far.
The first lot to hit the €500,000 mark, a son of record-breaking sire Kodiac bought by Shadwell, was among the more noteable pinhooks during the concluding session. The strapping colt had cost Willie Browne and Mark Dwyer - whose Oaks Farm Stables offered the colt - €82,000 in the Goffs ring last November.
"I only had six in my place in the summer," said a stunned Browne. "This lad was always the standout. You'd call him in the field and he'd be up there half an hour before everyone else. He was a beautiful foal. He's a big, strong horse and always had a bit more scope than most Kodiacs. It's a fairytale!"
Bred by Ballyreddin Stud, the colt is a half-brother to two winners out of an unraced Bernstein half-sister to Group 3 Prix Miesque winner Magic America, while his grandam, Shoofha, is a sister to Park Hill Stakes winner Delilah.
Shadwell parted with €1.13m for four yearlings over the two-day sale.
That's the Spirit
Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms secured a brace of yearlings during Wednesday's session, including an Invincible Spirit filly from the Irish National Stud, with a bid of €450,000 required to see off David Redvers and Sheikh Fahad.
"We've had a bit of luck with Invincible Spirit," said Lord Grimthorpe with some understatement. "She's a gorgeous filly who looks like she might be speedy. She has a lot of class."
The filly was bred by the Irish National Stud out of the winning Excellent Art mare Gift Of Heaven, a half-sister to Group 3 winner Lightning Moon and Listed scorer Song Of My Heart. Grimthorpe's other purchase was an Acclamation colt offered by Rathbarry Stud who brought €150,000.
All told, the results from the two days of selling returned a set of figures largely on par with 12 months earlier, when the sale included the highly prized Wildenstein Dispersal horses.
From 433 offered lots, 373 changed hands for a clearance rate of 86 per cent - up from 84 per cent in 2016. The aggregate stood at €40,702,500, a one per cent year-on-year improvement, while the average remained almost static at €109,120 and the median dipped just two per cent to €65,000.
The figures from the second and final session fell in line with the overall returns, with 178 of the 205 offered on Wednesday selling for a clearance rate of 86 per cent. Turnover stood at €19,557,500, up one per cent, the average was steady at €109,875, and the median was up six per cent to €64,000.
At the conclusion of the sale, Goffs chief executive Henry Beeby commented: "Two millionaires by Galileo and Frankel were the clear highlights of another strong renewal of our flagship Orby Sale, which has been well supported by a huge international cast of buyers who flocked to County Kildare to buy some beautifully bred and world-class yearlings that had been sent to us by leading breeders.
"Of course last year the sale was boosted by a group of yearlings that formed part of the once in a generation Wildenstein Stables Dispersal, so it is gratifying that we have bettered the sale when you take out those one-offs, while an improved clearance rate of 86 per cent is very much a positive."