Katie Walsh riding high at Goresbridge as her Frankel filly smashes record
Full report from the latest stop on the breeze-up circuit
Goresbridge was visited by two rare visitors for its breeze-up sale on Friday: glorious sunshine that lifted the spirits of participants and a precious offspring of Frankel.
And the filly by the unbeaten dual world champion smashed the record price for the auction when hammered down for €315,000.
Consigned by Katie Walsh’s Greenhills Farm, the chestnut filly looked a potential star from the moment the catalogues were printed and in the flesh the daughter of Dick Poole Stakes winner Vital Statistics enhanced that impression.
Her gallop up the Gowran Park straight for the breeze on Thursday afternoon only burnished her reputation as she posted one of the day’s quickest times, and her sale ensured a large crowd gathered by the ringside to watch one of the most dramatic moments in Goresbridge history.
Stephen Hillen decided there would be no hiding place for his rivals for the filly, opening the bidding at €200,000. Agents Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock and Aidan O’Ryan, both on their phones, soon entered the fray and the price was pushed past the previous record of €270,000.
Hillen’s bold bidding strategy paid off as he secured the filly, a half-sister to the useful Dansili gelding Ashaadd, on behalf of an established client for the record-breaking price of €315,000.
“She still looks raw,” said Hillen of the filly, whose coat glowed copper in the sunshine. “I think Katie has only had her for a couple of months so she has done a serious job with her. She did her breeze yesterday well within herself and of course she’s by Frankel out of a nice mare.”
The filly will get a month off to develop after her exertions before going into training, although the identity of her new custodian is as yet unknown.
Despite breaking the record price, Hillen felt he had got a good deal.
“I don’t think she was bad value really, for what she is," he said. "Plenty of other horses have made that kind of money this year, so for a Frankel out of a Listed-winning mare it’s not bad value. Hopefully now she can run."
Red letter day for Katie Walsh
Earlier in the sale Walsh, who recently retired from race-riding, consigned another filly by a Juddmonte sire who had bidders in a frenzy.
The bay daughter of Bated Breath - a stallion with form at this sale as he is the source of last year’s sale-topper Landshark, who contests Saturday's Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh for Jessica Harrington - got the sale off to a flying start.
BBA Ireland agent Michael Donohoe, bidding on behalf of a new client from the Middle East, secured the half-sister to Wood Memorial Stakes winner and sire Bellamy Road for €200,000.
“She'll be sent into training with Nicholas Blanchard in Jebel Ali, and with her pedigree we think she's a filly who might do well on dirt," said Donohoe.
"Her Frankel half-sister [Deadline Diva] won on debut in France the other day, and this filly did a very fast time for a horse that you would think might need a bit of time."
Stunning result for Slade Power
A first-crop son of Kildangan Stud sire and champion sprinter Slade Power claimed the honours as the sire of the most expensive colt sold at Goresbridge on Friday.
Out of the unraced Gone West mare Tallulah Bell, the bay is a half-brother to Dark Side, a winner and Listed-placed last year in France for trainer Fabrice Vermeulen.
He brought a winning bid of €220,000 from Curragh trainer Michael O’Callaghan.
“He's a lovely horse, our pick of the colts in the sale, and will carry my dad’s colours,” said the trainer. “He did the third fastest time on Thursday and he's a really good-looking colt.”
Bred by Jacqueline Norris of Jockey Hall Stud, his dam is a half-sister to Amorama, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, and to the dam of Odeliz, who won the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet and Premio Lydia Teslo for Karl Burke in 2015.
It was another successful pinhook by Gold Cup-winning jockey Norman Williamson, who purchased the colt as a yearling for €45,000.
Scat Daddy scarcity sends prices soaring
The popularity of American-bred horses has been a running theme during this breeze-up season and the progeny of almost 20 different US-based sires were represented at this year’s Goresbridge sale.
Both Scat Daddy and Quality Road had one offspring apiece catalogued and they both made the top five most expensive horses sold on Friday.
A filly from the final crop of Scat Daddy was one of the most talked about horses prior to the sale and she duly became one of the most expensive horses through the ring.
Bred by the New York branch of Newtown Anner Stud, she was sold for $150,000 at Keeneland last September and was consigned to Goresbridge by Willie Browne’s Mocklershill.
John Lenihan of Ballyogue Stud in County Waterford signed for the filly at €200,000.
Her dam is a winning daughter of Arch and a half-sister to Grade 3 winners Micromanage, who was third in the Haskell Invitational, and Indescribable, who filled the same place in the Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap at Saratoga.
Their dam Catnip is a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note and Hold That Tiger, who won the Grand Criterium at Longchamp for Aidan O’Brien.
Adam Driver of Global Equine Group was the buyer of the Quality Road colt from Mayfield Stables for €180,000. The first foal of Rhagori, a winning Exceed And Excel mare, he was purchased from Newsells Park Stud for £50,000 as a yearling.
“He'll go into training in Newmarket and the client likes buying horses in Goresbridge as the sale has been lucky for him,” Driver commented.
Still exceeding and excelling
An ever-consistent source of classy winners, Darley shuttler Exceed And Excel was responsible for the second most expensive colt of the day. Consigned by Johnny Collins’ Brown Island Stables, he was bought by Will Johnson of De Burgh Equine for €190,000 and boasts an excellent pedigree befitting his high price.
He is out of Kaabari, who won at three and has a 100 per cent record with her three runners so far. She is a Seeking The Gold half-sister to Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Cloud Castle, who was placed in the Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille and is also the second dam of Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf heroine Queen’s Trust, by another leading sire son of Danehill in Dansili.
“We think he could be a summer two-year-old and hopefully he'll be out on the track soon,” Johnson remarked. “He's for clients who are owners with Roger Varian and he'll train this colt who is a lovely, precocious sort. The sire needs little introduction.”
His pedigree also includes recent Group 1 performers Royal Solitude and Dabyah, and the granddam Cloud Castle is a half-sister to Luso, Warrsan and Needle Gun. Collins purchased the colt as a yearling from New England Stud for 58,000gns.
The Goresbridge catalogue grew again this year, but was not immune to the trends swirling around this year’s breeze-up sales and the number of six-figure lots fell. In 2017, 13 horses sold for €100,000 or more, but that number dropped to nine on Friday, which was the same recorded at the sale two years ago.
Today’s clearance rate of slightly over 80 percent was down by almost four points on last year but very similar to that of 2016.