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Godolphin team reflect on week of 'glory days' level of spending

John Gosden speaks to reporters at Keeneland this week
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Unleashing a barrage of buying firepower not seen at the Keeneland September yearling sale since the bloodstock world’s glory days before the global economic crisis, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team dominated the elite four-session Book 1, perhaps setting a tone for European sales still to come.

Although Sheikh Mohammed attended only the opening Keeneland session, trainer John Gosden said he roused the buying team he has assembled following the departure of former advisor John Ferguson and encouraged them to boldly pursue the horses they found most desirable.

By the end of Book 1, Godolphin had spent $18.94 million on 22 horses, and its Godolphin Japan affiliate had added four more, upping total spending by the global operation to $19.61 million. That figure was more than twice what Godolphin spent at this sale last year and the highest tab for the stable at Keeneland September since 2006, when agent Ferguson corralled 34 horses for $59,945,000.

Sale results

“It’s due to one factor alone - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum was here. That makes a big difference,” Gosden said when asked about Godolphin’s determination to skim much of the cream of American breeding.

“He tells us what horses he likes. He has a very good eye for horses himself and he picks them out so that galvanizes the team. It’s all due to the Boss,” said Anthony Stroud, who joined Gosden in signing tickets on the Godolphin horses, while nodding in agreement. “We just work for him.”

Godolphin focused on offspring of its top American stallion Medaglia d’Oro, buying four fillies and three colts by the sire and accounting for 23 per cent of his yearlings sold in Book 1.

It was therefore not a surprise that Medaglia d’Oro reigned as Book 1’s top sire by gross turnover, with 31 offspring sold for a total of $19.395 million. Average price for his sons and daughters sold was $625,645, second only to the average of $782,500 for 18 yearlings sold by War Front.

Many of the Medaglia d’Oro yearlings bought by Godolphin look likely to race in Europe, Gosden indicated, including both purchased on Thursday: a $1.6m colt who is the second foal of American champion turf mare Dayatthespa, and a $1m filly who is the first foal out of the unraced Street Cry mare Esprit De Vie, a sister to group winner and Irish Oaks third Princess Highway.

“Everything - we liked everything about him,” Gosden said of the Dayatthespa colt, who was bred by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farms and offered as Hip 823 in the Gainesway consignment. “He was very much the horse we wanted today - we were very keen to get him.”

Godolphin also cast two votes in support of first-crop Coolmore sire American Pharoah by buying a pair of colts, including the most expensive son of the Triple Crown winner sold worldwide.

On the day Sheikh Mohammed presided over his team’s activities, Godolphin paid $2.2m for the American Pharoah colt out of the stakes-winning Indian Charlie mare Kindle. That acquisition followed a throwback bidding war with Coolmore’s MV Magnier.

Overall, Godolphin bought 14 colts and eight fillies, with the female purchases including several superbly bred individuals that Gosden said eventually would become important members of Sheikh Mohammed’s global broodmare band.

A $1.75m War Front half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner and Godolphin stallion Nyquist and a $1.1m Uncle Mo filly out of a multiple graded stakes-winning half-sister to champion Lady Eli led the filly purchases.

Godolphin also bought three colts that look well suited to chasing prizes in American racing: a $1.3m Curlin colt out of a stakes-winning sister to Grade 1 winner Taris; a $975,000 Quality Road colt out of a half-sister to champion and sire Vindication; and an $875,000 Into Mischief colt from the family of Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

Gosden and Stroud repeatedly indicated that Sheikh Mohammed would decide where the purchased yearlings would be dispatched for racing and who would train them.

Godolphin’s targeted spending represented 9 per cent of the overall Keeneland gross of $216,813,000 during Book 1, which was up 10.26 per cent from the first four days of last year’s September sale, although the 2017 edition was conducted under a different format with only one session for Book 1.

Following Godolphin in overall spending through Book 1 was Sheikh Mohammed’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum. His Shadwell Estate paid a total of $12,345,000 for 19 yearlings, with both figures very similar to what Shadwell accounted for at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.

Shadwell, which ranked as leading buyer of the past two September auctions, acquired three seven-figure yearlings, paying $1.2m each for a War Front filly out of a three-quarter sister to Irish starts Yesterday and Quarter Moon; a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of Irish stakes winner Bunairgead, by New Approach, and a War Front colt from the Yesterday and Quarter Moon family.

The Shadwell team bid from a private room and did not give indications of plans for the yearling purchases, but those top acquisitions all appear destined for European racing.

Also on the Shadwell ledger were two colts and a filly by top American sire Tapit, whose offspring typically perform best on dirt and thus seem more likely to be kept in America.

Each of the Tapits was acquired for $800,000, and perhaps the most intriguing of the trio is a half-sister to Group 2 winner and Investec Derby third Storm The Stars, who is out of a half-sister to Giant’s Causeway and the dam of Gleneagles.

If you are interested in this, you should also read:

Masar: an absorbing pedigree and a crucial win for Godolphin breeding

He tells us what horses he likes. He has a very good eye for horses himself and he picks them out so that galvanizes the team
E.W. Terms
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