Jooste offerings steal the show as Smoulder makes joint-record 550,000gns
James Thomas reports from an eventful first day of the February Sale
The door to the bloodstock world may have closed on beleaguered billionaire Markus Jooste, whose racing operation has been placed under lockdown in the aftermath of the allegations of accountancy fraud brought against the South African, but one man's loss is so often another's gain.
A quartet of blue-blooded mares that had been owned in part by Jooste came under the hammer during the opening session of the Tattersalls February Sale on Thursday, and the high-class offerings duly stole the show when fetching a combined total of 1,770,000gns.
The most expensive offering to have sported Jooste's familiar green, yellow and black silks was Smoulder, who brought a joint-record price at the February Sale when Lordship Stud saw off Bertrand Le Metayer at 550,000gns.
A daughter of Redoute's Choice and a close relation to 1,000 Guineas heroine Legatissimo, Smoulder was raced in conjunction with the Coolmore partners and landed a Dundalk maiden while under the care of Aidan O'Brien. She fetched 725,000gns at the 2015 renewal of Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
"The story is that we loved her as a yearling but were never going to be able to buy her at that stage," explained Lordship's Tom Harris after signing the docket. "We've been trying to buy a mare for the last year but it's been very tough at the top.
"For us she was a standout and it's nice that we've been able to come full-circle with her. No decision has been made yet regarding matings, we've got a few names in mind, but for now she'll just come back to the Lordship broodmare band. A mare like this is quite an unusual entry for the February Sale but it's exciting to have got her."
Heading further afield is Listed Naas Oaks Trial winner Key To My Heart, who is bound for the US after BBA Ireland's Eamonn Reilly stretched to 525,000gns to secure the daughter of Galileo.
A 1,300,000gns yearling purchase by MV Magnier, Key To My Heart hails from a family that has been nurtured by American Pharoah's owner Zayat Stables. She is the highest achieving of two winners out of Ahmed Zayat's Grade 1 Frizette Stakes winner A Z Warrior, who in turn is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Jojo Warrior, the Grade 1-placed and Grade 3-winning E Z Warrior and the Belmont Park Listed winner J Z Warrior.
"She's for an undisclosed client in the US and that's where she'll go," said Reilly. "She's from a good American family so she should work well there, and she's a Galileo, they're very hard to get. I was underbidder on Longing, so I'm delighted to get this one."
Just two lots before Key To My Heart it was the turn of Pocketfullofdreams, a winning and Listed-placed daughter of Invincible Spirit, who went the way of Stephen Hillen for 475,000gns. Le Metayer again filled the role of underbidder.
"She's by an excellent sire in Invincible Spirit," said Hillen. "She's a filly who's run a bit and is from a happening family. Her half-sister, The Juliet Rose, just made a lot of money privately."
A €550,000 yearling, Pocketfullofdreams won a Naas maiden and twice finished runner-up at Listed level while under the care of O'Brien. The four-year-old is a half-sister to the aforementioned The Juliet Rose, a daughter of Monsun who carried the Mayfair Speculators silks to victory in two renewals of the Prix de Royallieu.
The first lot from the draft of horses part-owned by Jooste, all of which were offered through The Castlebridge Consignment, was Longing, who went the way of Cormac McCormack for 220,000gns after a lengthy bidding battle that involved BBA Ireland representatives and Jake Warren.
"I'm delighted to get her," said McCormack, who explained he had secured the four-year-old on behalf of an undisclosed client. "She's a Galileo filly - everyone wants a Galileo - and you can't get better than that."
Longing, a 1,000,000gns yearling, is a half-sister to Group 3 Atalanta Stakes winner Ladys First.
One of Jooste's brightest prospects, Willie John - who was owned in partnership with the China Horse Club - looks set to play a starring role during Friday's session of the February Sale.
End of the road for Ballymacoll
The opening session of the February Sale also played host to the final offering from the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal when the Group 2-placed Thetis came up for auction.
The daughter of Invincible Spirit stood quietly in the centre of the Park Paddocks ring with her 19-day old Lope De Vega filly foal as the bid board ticked over, and just when it looked as though Hillen had landed the spoils, John McCormack, stood alone by the exit to the ring, steamed in with an offer of 550,000gns to bring the gavel down and break the February Sale record price.
"This mare has been bought for an existing client and she's going to stay in Europe to be bred, there's plenty of good stallions here," said McCormack. "She's a lovely mare and the filly at foot is most encouraging.
"I'd say this looks like one of the best Ballymacoll lines. She was only a month away from foaling during the December Sale so it wouldn't have been fair to offer her then."
McCormack was also quick to heap praise on former Ballymacoll Stud manager Peter Reynolds, who has overseen the complete dispersal of the farm's stock, which has now brought 12,077,500gns at Tattersalls alone.
"I'd say history will say that Peter Reynolds is one of the greatest stud masters of our time, and he and Sir Michael Stoute were a great team. They tailored and crafted some really good horses and not from big numbers. These families will carry on and I'm sure we'll still be reading about Ballymacoll in the years to come."
Thetis hails from the famous Ballymacoll family of Conduit and Spectrum, while her half-sister Liber Nauticus was successful in the Musidora Stakes.
The highlight of the early exchanges was pair of mares offered by Juddmonte Farms. It was from that consignment that the first six-figure lot emerged, as Paul Webber outbid James Tate at 110,000gns for Canada Water.
The daughter of Dansili - a sister to Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rail Link and offered in foal to Showcasing - was acquired by Webber on behalf of Barronstown Stud.
The lot before Canada Water was Novellara, who went the way of Charlie Gordon-Watson Bloodstock's Will Douglass for 55,000gns. The 15-year-old daughter of Sadler's Wells, who landed the 2006 Noel Murless Stakes for Sir Henry Cecil, is the dam of two winners, including the Australian Group 3 winner Disclaimer, and was offered in foal to the upwardly mobile Bated Breath.
"It's not every day you get the chance to buy a black-type producing mare by Sadler's Wells," said Douglass. "She's from one of Juddmonte's top families and is in-foal to a good young stallion in Bated Breath. She's been bought for a British client and she will visit a British-based stallion."
Novellara's family traces back to the likes of Midday and her high-achieving brood of Midterm and Mori.
The opening session of the February Sale saw 145 of 192 offered lots sell for turnover of 3,992,650gns - a 22 per cent year-on-year gain and an average of 27,535gns - a 32 per cent increase. However, the median price dropped to 5,500gns from 7,000gns, while the clearance rate also took a hit, with 76 per cent of the offered lots changing hands compared with 85 per cent in 2017.