How a mare who cost $7,000 produced a foal with a priceless update
Ballyduane Stud's Gutaifan filly the centre of attention this week
It will be with deep admiration and, if you're a fellow breeder, a permissible touch of envy that you read how Gerry Mullins of Ballyduane Stud in County Limerick is selling a foal at Goffs this week whose dam was bought for a pittance only to be subject to an enormously significant pedigree update in the run-up to the auction.
Mullins bought the winning Miesque's Son mare Gender Dance, already the dam of 760,000gns breeze-up sale-topper and Group 3 winner Great White Eagle, for just $7,000 when she was offered at the Keeneland January Sale of 2016.
With Gender Dance safely at home in the paddocks in foal to Gutaifan, Mullins has realised every breeder's dream as her son by Scat Daddy, only a short yearling at the time of the mare's purchase, became another top lot for the dam when bought by David Redvers for 675,000gns from Gaybrook Lodge Stud at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up Sale in April.
Subsequently named Kings Shield and sent into training with John Gosden for Qatar Racing, the colt on Wednesday won on debut at Newcastle – where his handler gave the great Enable her first outing in November, don't forget – in smart fashion from two well-bred colts who had finished second on their previous runs in Ostilio and Illusional.
“It's a lovely story,” said Mullins as he prepared his draft of five foals at Goffs on Sunday. “All the agents are coming round asking me about the Gutaifan foal – she's become known as 'the filly with the big update'!
“I'd had my eye on the dam as soon as I saw her in the catalogue for Keeneland. Great White Eagle had made a big profit for Eddie O'Leary of Lynn Lodge Stud and one of her earlier foals, Quarrel, had finished a close third in the Mill Reef Stakes. It's a super European pedigree.”
Gender Dance might have been 16 at the time of the Keeneland sale, and she had been covered by Scat Daddy but was not in foal, but she still had those two classy runners on her breeding record and has a fine pedigree as a half-sister to Japanese stakes winner Fusaichi Auster and a close relation to top-class American talents Dream Empress, Fairy Garden and Possible Mate.
So was Mullins surprised he was able to purchase her for the knock-down price of $7,000?
“I'd planned to spend around $25,000 to $30,000 to get her,” he said. “I'd asked Brendan Gallagher in Kentucky to bid. I was in an airport getting my tickets out for inspection when Brendan rang and he wound me up by telling me he'd got her for twenty-five.
“I said that was great, only for Brendan to say, 'well think again, because you got her for seven'. I was over the moon.”
Mullins sent Gender Dance to the Prix Robert Papin and Flying Childers Stakes winner Gutaifan, a son of the white-hot Dark Angel, in his first season at Yeomanstown Stud last year. The result, the breeder says, is “a really beautiful” filly who goes under the hammer at Goffs on Wednesday and is available for inspection on the grounds from Monday.
Mullins should be easy to spot around Barn F at Goffs, where the Ballyduane quintet of foals are stabled, as he ought to be wearing a broad smile. For Kings Shield's debut victory came in the evening of the day that he had sold two colt foals by Milan for €50,000 and €40,000 at Fairyhouse.
“I ran out of the stable yard after selling the foals to find a TV and watch Kings Shield win,” said Mullins. “I gather John Gosden thinks a lot of him as a long-term prospect, so I'm absolutely delighted. It's a wonderful turn of events.”
He added that Gender Dance is not in foal but he is thinking of sending the mare to another Yeomanstown Stud newcomer, El Kabeir, next year.
El Kabeir is by Scat Daddy so a resultant foal would, of course, be bred along similar lines to Kings Shield and could, like the Gutaifan filly, turn out to be of huge value as a relation to Gosden's young charge if he continues his progress.