Gordon Elliott doubles up at Cheltenham as January Sale top lots head to Ireland
James Thomas with all the action from Prestbury Park's boutique auction
Gordon Elliott may not have had a runner in Britain on Saturday, but the man who is leading the Irish jumps trainers' championship enjoyed a productive day at Prestbury Park nonetheless, having walked away from the new look Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale with the top two lots.
The priciest of the pair was Clondaw Secret, a son of Court Cave and a brother to the smart Clondaw Court, who landed a four-year-old maiden at Boulta for Michael Goff of Moate Stables in mid-December.
After a tussle with Evan Williams, who stood on the other side of the packed owners' and trainers' marquee, Elliott and his long-standing ally Aidan 'Mouse' O'Ryan brought the gavel down at £135,000.
"He's a lovely horse, a proper winter sort of a horse for next year," O'Ryan said of the imposing five-year-old, who shares his page with dual Grade 1-winning hurdler The Worlds End.
"He'd have probably made more if he hadn't missed his slot at the sales when he was still a four-year-old. He won a good race at Boulta on soft ground and Mick Goff has sold plenty of nice horses so hopefully we'll be lucky with him. He's been bought for an existing owner."
Clondaw Secret showed a tidy profit on the price he fetched at the Goffs Land Rover Sale, having been signed for by Francis Fenlon at €28,000.
Consigned by Colin McKeever's Loughanmore Farm, the five-year-old son of Falco had fallen on his first two starts between the flags, but made it third time lucky when opening his account at Tinahely earlier in the month.
Elliott certainly knows Folcano's pedigree well, having trained his Jukebox Jury half-brother Farclas to win the 2018 Triumph Hurdle. The horse also shares his page with Carlito Brigante, with whom Elliott won a host of valuable prizes, most notably the 2011 Coral Cup.
"He looks like a horse with a bit of pace and has been bought for an existing owner of Gordon's."
Skelton and Mahon play it cool
Dan Skelton has won two bumpers with the hugely promising Third Time Lucki, a graduate of Francesca Nimmo and Charlie Poste's Station Yard academy, and the trainer dipped into the couple's draft yesterday when he secured Buckfastleigh four-year-old maiden winner Freezing Point through Ryan Mahon at £65,000.
"He's a big backward horse who we'll give a bit of time," said Mahon after signing the docket. "His performance on heavy ground at Buckfastleigh was very good though. He's been bought on spec."
Fitzgerald a January Sale fan
There were some mixed feelings as to the need for the January Sale to make a return to the calendar, but one vendor who was a fan was Aidan Fitzgerald of Cobajay Stables, who sold the Kayf Tara mare Nada To Prada to Tom Malone and Michael Scudamore for £65,000.
"I think it's a great initiative,” Fitzgerald said of the January Sale. “It works very well and, whatever it is, people just love buying horses at Cheltenham - it is the home of National Hunt racing after all."
It stands to reason that Fitzgerald would be among the January Sale’s fans, having seen Nada To Prada, winner of a Ballindenisk mares maiden, show a handsome upgrade on her €8,500 store sale price.
Fitzgerald said: "She came from the May Sale. She was a lovely individual then, a fine big mare and a great walker. She had loads of presence.
"I'm delighted she's been bought by [owners] Lynne and Angus Maclennan, they’ve bought a lot of horses from us and have had a lot of success with horses like Court Master and Rosie And Millie.
A moment of spontaneity for Brooks
Andrew Brooks enjoyed an afternoon to remember at Prestbury Park as he saw Simply The Betts carry his colours to victory in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase.
And the owner was also among a sizeable crowd who dropped in on the January Sale after racing, and added to his string when going to £50,000 for Give Us A Swig early in the session.
"I actually went down to look at lot number one, but then saw lot number two, and Sean [Tiernan, racing manager] and I agreed we prefered him," said Brooks. "It was as spontaneous as that - he just had that bit of presence about him."
Tiernan added: "We had a little bit of info on him too as I know the person who had him in Ireland, Richard Downes, who also sold Summerville Boy."
The five-year-old son of Trans Island was making his third sales ring appearance, having been bought by Downes for €6,000 at Fairyhouse in November 2015, before he went unsold at €14,500 at the August National Hunt Sale three years later.
Brooks has horses in training with the likes of Warren Greatrex, Olly Murphy, Venetia Williams and Simply The Betts' handler Harry Whittington, but when asked about who would take charge of Give Us A Swig, he said: "They're all standing behind me at the moment so I better not say!"
The short, sharp session of selling saw 13 of 15 offered lots change hands for a clearance rate of 87 per cent, which in turn brought an aggregate of £802,000, an average of £61,690 and a median of £55,000.
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