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Money, money, money: the four most expensive auction horses of 2018

Lewis Lesbirel runs the rule over the priciest purchases of the last 12 months

Lady Aurelia was the centre of attention at Fasig-Tipton's 'A Night of Stars' in early November
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She stole the show twice at Royal Ascot when scorching clear of her rivals in both the Queen Mary and King's Stand Stakes, but it was on the other side of the Atlantic that Lady Aurelia made her biggest mark this year, when offered at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.

The daughter of Scat Daddy, the first US-based horse to win a Cartier award when named as champion two-year-old filly in Europe in 2016, topped the select one-day auction billed as 'A Night of Stars' when hammered down for $7.5m, the highest price paid for a horse at public auction this year. 

For the second year in a row, the top spot is filled by a horse sold at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, with an extra $2m having been paid for Songbird in 2017, while a filly and mare sold across town at the Keeneland November Sale emerged on top the previous two years.

The last horse sold in Europe to top the charts was the 2013 Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Just The Judge, who sold for 4.5 million guineas at the 2014 Tattersalls December Sale. 

The second and third most expensive lots this year were sold at Park Paddocks with the Galileo colt out of Shastye and the Dubawi colt out of Dar Re Mi lighting up their respective sessions of Book 1 of the October Yearling Sale. 

Other sales houses enjoyed their moment in the sun throughout the year without making it into this list, with Phoenix Thoroughbreds stretching to €3.2 million for the Galileo sister to Oaks heroine Forever Together at the Goffs Orby Sale.

The most expensive foal changed hands at the JRHA Select Sale, with the Deep Impact colt out of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Ria Antonia bought by the Satomi Horse Company for ¥290m (£2.07m/€2.29m) from Northern Farm. 

The top price at the Keeneland November Sale, meanwhile, was the $4.2m paid for prolific Grade 1 winner Lady Eli, who was offered in foal to War Front. 

Here are the four most expensive auction horses of 2018 who did make the cut:

Lady Aurelia
Pedigree 4yo b f Scat Daddy-D'Wildcat Speed (Forest Wildcat)
Fasig-Tipton November
Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, agent
Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings

Seldom are breeders provided with the opportunity to purchase a mare of Lady Aurelia's unquestionable quality at public auction.

Her date with the Fasig-Tipton auctioneer last month was one of the most hotly anticipated of the year with one of her existing owners, Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farm, ensuring rival bidders could not get their hands on the rare collector's item, stretching to $7.5m to buy out partner Peter Leidel.

Speculation as to who the dual Royal Ascot winner could visit in 2019 arose almost before the auctioneer could bring his gavel down, with Banke subsequently whetting the appetite of breeders across Europe after revealing a visit to these shores could well be on Lady Aurelia's agenda, with Banke stating her aim was to "take American speed and breed it to something that's going to stay the distance".

Should Lady Aurelia remain stateside for her first covering, she could visit the Stonestreet-raced two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, although Banke also mentioned Curlin's champion son Good Magic, who will stand his first season in 2019 after being bred and co-owned by Stonestreet, as a possibility.

The race to secure the legacy of Lady Aurelia's sire, the late Scat Daddy, was one of the key developments of the past year, with Coolmore adding Triple Crown winner Justify to its roster at Ashford Stud in Kentucky. Will it be another of Coolmore's stallions, the ever-green Galileo, who Banke turns to first?

Barbara Banke has multiple suitors lined up for Lady Aurelia

Pedigree yearling b c Dubawi-Dar Re Mi (Singspiel)
Sale Tattersalls October Book 1
Consignor Watership Down Stud
Price 3,500,000gns
Buyer David Redvers Bloodstock

After a stellar year for Sheikh Fahad's Qatar Racing courtesy of the exploits of Cartier Horse of the Year Roaring Lion, there was more joy for the team in the Tattersalls sales ring, as David Redvers landed the winning bid of 3.5m gns for arguably Europe's most eagerly anticipated yearling - the Dubawi colt out of champion racemare Dar Re Mi consigned by Watership Down Stud.

Edmond Mahony called for an opening bid of two million guineas for the brother to champion juvenile Too Darn Hot and St Leger runner-up Lah Ti Dar.

In a piece of theatre Watership Down supremo Lord Lloyd-Webber would have been proud to produce, Shadwell's Angus Gold ultimately gave Redvers most to think about after the likes of Jamie McCalmont, Mike Ryan, Robert Nataf and Japanese trainer Mitsu Nakauchida fell by the wayside.

The eventual winning bid was enough to crown the son of Dubawi, who like his illustrious siblings will be trained by John Gosden, as the most expensive yearling sold at auction worldwide in 2018.

The Dubawi colt out of Dar Re Mi sells for 3.5 million guineas to David Redvers

Pedigree yearling b c Galileo-Shastye (Danehill)
Sale Tattersalls October Book 1
Consignor Newsells Park Stud
Price 3,400,000gns
Buyer MV Magnier

A day before the sale of the Dubawi colt, it was a Galileo brother to Sir Isaac Newton, Secret Gesture and Beresford Stakes winner Japan who brought the fireworks to Tattersalls as he sold for the eye-watering sum of 3.4m gns during the opening Book 1 session.

The colt is the fourth seven-figure yearling produced by Shastye, a Listed-placed daughter of Danehill who was bought through John Warren for 625,000gns in 2005. Shastye's six offspring to sell at Tattersalls have amassed a total of 10.8m gns.

MV Magnier, who landed the winning bid, found himself in familiar territory having parted with 3.6m gns for Shastye's fifth foal, the Group 3 winner Sir Isaac Newton, in 2013. Magnier also went to 1.3m gns for Japan, who announced himself as a serious Classic prospect for next season when winning the Group 2 Beresford Stakes in September.

All the big players threw their hats in the ring but surprisingly it was Mitsu Nakauchida who pushed Magnier the closest, meaning the Japanese trainer had bid with intent on the two highest priced yearlings of 2018, only ultimately to be frustrated.

The Galileo colt out of Shastye hammered down for 3.4 million guineas

Pedigree 7yo dkb/br m Tale Of The Cat-Exotic Bloom (Montbrook)
Sale Fasig-Tipton November
Consignor Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent
Price $4.4m
Buyer Whisper Hill Farm

Back across the Atlantic and not content with landing last year's most expensive auction horse Songbird, Whisper Hill Farm's Mandy Pope again parted with an enormous sum to add to her broodmare band.

Although the headlines were dominated by Lady Aurelia, a number of other high-profile horses to changed hands at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, with multiple Grade 1 winner Stopchargingmaria selling to Pope for $4.4m.

After acquiring the 2015 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner in foal to record-breaking US sire Tapit, Pope went to $1.9 million for the Stopchargingmaria's first foal, a filly by Pioneerof The Nile, who is most famous for producing Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The weanling's price broke the Fasig-Tipton November record in that category established by a pair of $1 million youngsters in 2017, while Pope's total expenditure at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale was just shy of $10m.

Stopchargingmaria: won the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2015

The year in review . . .

The small breeders whose horses hit the headlines in 2018

Seven star mares whose progeny hit top gear during 2018

Honouring the best of breeding in 2018: the Racing Post Bloodstock Awards

Seldom are breeders provided with the opportunity to purchase a mare of Lady Aurelia's unquestionable quality at public auction
E.W. Terms