Emotions run high as Henrietta Knight secures £200,000 Doncaster record breaker

Goffs UK Spring Store Sale top lot was pinhooked in Germany for just €19,000

Lot 38: the record-breaking son of Adlerflug sells for £200,000
Lot 38: the record-breaking son of Adlerflug sells for £200,000Credit: Sarah Farnsworth

There was high emotion and a record-breaking price on day one of the Goffs UK Spring Store Sale in Doncaster on Monday as Henrietta Knight secured a striking son of the late Adlerflug on a bid of £200,000.

An opening offer of £80,000 from Evan Williams signalled the Ballincurrig House Stud offering was something out of the ordinary, but once the other bidders had regained their composure it was Ryan Mahon and Gerry Hogan who proved Knight’s strongest opponents.

There was a lengthy pause at the £170,000 mark but, just before the hammer came down, Mahon looked up from his position in the gangway and flashed five digits in the direction of auctioneer Bernard Condren.

Knight, stood on the top tier of the auditorium, immediately fired back with a £5,000 increase of her own that suggested she wouldn’t be backing down, and following a final brief back and forth the gavel duly came down in favour of the three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer.

“He’s just the most lovely moving horse,” said Knight. “He’s got a lovely temperament too, I had him out multiple times yesterday. I like the German breeding too, they’re strong pedigrees and they’re pedigrees that last as they’re very strict with their breeding in Germany.”

Adlerflug, who died aged 17 in April 2021, spent the latter part of his stallion career at Gestut Schlenderhan, by which time his talents had begun to gain traction among a wider selection of breeders. However, his greatest achievement came after his passing with son Torquator Tasso recording a memorable victory in last year’s Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Henrietta Knight signs for the son of Adlerflug at £200,000
Henrietta Knight signs for the son of Adlerflug at £200,000Credit: Sarah Farnsworth

“I haven’t bought one by Adlerflug before, I’m not sure many people have and unfortunately he’s not around any more,” continued Knight. “I’ve seen a lot of photos of him though and he was a lovely chestnut with four white legs.

"I just love quality, movement and a good head and this horse had everything. He’s been bought for Mike Grech. We haven’t decided where he’ll be trained yet but he’s coming to me for breaking in so he’ll come straight to mine tonight.”

The three-year-old’s pedigree contains some of Germany’s biggest names, not only being by the much-missed Adlerflug but out of Inanya, a Listed-placed daughter of Areion whose siblings include the dam of Iquitos, another by Adlerflug who won three Group 1s before retiring to Gestut Graditz.

Despite those cast iron pedigree credentials, the youngster was pinhooked as a yearling by Claire and Chris Bonner for just €19,000 from BBAG in October 2020.

“It’s quite emotional to be honest but really exciting,” said Claire Bonner, a former champion point-to-point rider who now runs a breaking and pre-training business in Wiltshire.

“There were a few tears. We’ve always pinhooked a couple but our main thing is the breaking and pre-training. This has been an amazing experience and Ballincurrig have done a wonderful job.”

Explaining how they came to source the record-breaking lot for such a relatively modest sum, Bonner said: “We really like the German pedigrees so we thought we’d give BBAG a go. I can’t believe how well it’s worked out but he was just a gorgeous individual as a yearling, he had a great walk and a lovely easy action.

"At the time Adlerflug wasn’t what he’s become, but Chris felt he was going to make up into an excellent stallion. It’s all worked out.”

Michael Moore: 'The big thing with him is his temperament'
Michael Moore: 'The big thing with him is his temperament'Credit: Sarah Farnsworth

Ballincurrig House’s Michael Moore added: “He’s been with me since flagfall and he’s been a beautiful horse all the way through. He’s a great mover and the big thing with him is his temperament. Every time he was shown here he was foot perfect.

“I thought he’d stand out here, but if you’ve got a good horse you can sell him by the roundabout outside and people will turn up. I’m not that surprised by the price as Adlerflugs are a bit of a collector's item at this stage; he was an exceptional sire.”

Knight’s purchase usurps Inexorable, who won three races for Gigginstown House Stud and David Wachman, as the most expensive British store. The son of Roselier went the way of Eddie O’Leary at 185,000gns at the old Doncaster complex in 2002.

Malone on the mark for Denman relation

The second six-figure lot came much later in the session when Tom Malone saw off a frustrated Dan Skelton with a bid of £175,000 to secure the Walk In The Park gelding out of Pretty Puttens consigned by Worthen Hall Stables.

The unraced mare has already produced four winners, including the Listed bumper scorer Didtheyleaveuoutto and the smart Ardhill, and is a Snurge half-sister to the brilliant Denman, whose 14 victories included a memorable triumph in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup as well the Hennessy Gold Cups of 2007 and 2009.

Malone’s purchase will bid to tread in familiar footsteps having been sourced to go to Denman’s trainer Paul Nicholls.

Tom Malone is all smiles as he signs for the well-related Walk In The Park
Tom Malone is all smiles as he signs for the well-related Walk In The ParkCredit: Sarah Farnsworth

“He was my standout of the sale,” said Malone. “He’s got the pedigree to back it up and Paul knows the family well. Walk In The Park is doing great things so let’s hope this horse is one of the good ones.

"He’s a beautiful animal, a big, strong chasing type. I’ve been through all of the two-day catalogue and told Paul this is the one we should go to war on, so hopefully he’s lucky.”

That six-figure transaction rewarded a bold investment at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale in 2019, where Worthen Hall’s Willie Bryan gave €40,000 to secure the youngster on behalf of a long-standing client.

Lot 127: the Walk In The Park relation to Denman in the Doncaster sunshine
Lot 127: the Walk In The Park relation to Denman in the Doncaster sunshineCredit: Sarah Farnsworth

“That’s my best ever result,” said Bryan. “He was probably the perfect specimen and the page is alive, which is what you need. We’ve got plenty of Walk In The Parks at home and their constitution for work is brilliant, he’s a great stallion and his results are only going to get stronger and stronger.

“I bought him from Edmond Kent of Ballyhampshire Stud, who bred Denman [with father-in-law Colman O'Flynn]. I thought he was a stunning foal but I didn’t tell Edmond that! I looked at him only once, then went and sat in the cafe for two days waiting for him to go through the ring.”

Doyle joins Affinisea fan club

Another of the session’s highlights came when Ross Doyle, standing with Joe Tizzard by the shoot, went to £80,000 for Galbertstown Stables’ son of Affinisea and Nansheen. Out of a High Chaparral half-sister to the Listed bumper scorer Flirtatious Girl, the strapping three-year-old was offered on behalf of Anne Marie Ryan.

“He’s for the Tizzards and physically I thought he was the best horse here today, if not in the whole sale,” said Doyle.

“He’s a fantastic-looking horse. We bought a horse called Classic Anthem [for £200,000] from Rob James at the Aintree Sale, he’s also by Affinisea and this lad reminded us a lot of him. Rob thinks he’s a very good horse and the Tizzards like him an awful lot too, so we’re big fans of the stallion.”

Ross Doyle: 'We’re big fans of Affinisea'
Ross Doyle: 'We’re big fans of Affinisea'Credit: Sarah Farnsworth

Whytemount Stud’s Affinisea, a Sea The Stars three-parts brother to Soldier Of Fortune, has been a smash hit with National Hunt breeders, proving the most popular stallion in 2021 with a book of 324 mares.

His oldest progeny are four this year and he has already supplied four winners between the flags in Ireland, including the aforementioned Classic Anthem, who struck at Monksgrange.

Bright future for Ballycrystal

Matthew Flynn O'Connor of Ballycrystal Stables in Wexford was responsible for the first eye-catching acquisition of the day when going to £75,000 for the Flemensfirth gelding out of triple Listed winner Give It Time consigned by Park Farm.

“He’ll go point-to-pointing in the spring,” said Flynn O’Connor. “He’s such a fine specimen and a great moving horse with a lovely action, so he fits our profile.”

Flynn O’Connor has sent out eight winners during the current Irish point-to-point season, including the impressive Ittack Blue, who struck at Punchestown on Sunday by 16 lengths. He has also enjoyed some fine returns in the sales ring, most notably when Aidan O’Ryan and Gordon Elliott gave £385,000 for Lingstown winner Deeply Superficial at Cheltenham in December.

The handler said he was hoping to maintain his upward trajectory by reinvesting in high-class prospects for next year, adding: “We’ve had a good season and the more you can get over the line the more you can come back and buy. You have to keep investing in the game to try and keep competing with the rest of them, and that’s not easily done!”

The son of Flememsfirth was making his second appearance at public auction, having been pinhooked by Park Farm for €62,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale in 2019.

Birthday boy

Nigel Twiston-Davies chose to celebrate his 65th birthday on duty in Doncaster and rung in the milestone occasion by purchasing the half-brother to Gowel Road, a three-time winner for the trainer, at £70,000.

The son of Soldier Of Fortune is out of Hollygrove Samba, whose other two winners are headed by the ill-fated Challow Novices' Hurdle scorer Captain Cutter. Offered by Vanquish Bloodstock, the youngster left connections with a tidy profit having been pinhooked as a foal from the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale at €20,000.

The opening day of the Spring Store Sale saw turnover of £3,383,500, down four per cent on the corresponding session in 2021, an average of £32,225, which was almost identical to last year, and a median of £26,000, which was down five per cent.

The clearance rate was 82 per cent as 105 of 128 offered lots found a buyer.

The Spring Store Sale continues on Tuesday, with selling starting at 11am.

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