Premier Sale evolution continues as Doncaster witnesses record trade
James Thomas reports from a blockbuster renewal of the yearling auction
The back page of the Premier Sale catalogue boasted of 'The Doncaster Evolution', and after a second barnstorming session brought the curtain down on a memorable renewal of the auction, it seems as though Goffs UK's flagship event has indeed undergone a metamorphosis that would turn Bruce Banner green with envy.
Since inspections got underway on Saturday the sales ground had bristled with talk of the quality on offer at this year's Premier Sale, and with all key market indicators from the two-day auction reaching record levels, it seems buyers were prepared to back up their opinion by parting with big sums.
"Myself and the team haven't seen so many nice horses here before," said Ross Doyle, Premier Sale regular and purchaser of catalogue cover star Barney Roy. "And there's a great international base of buyers here too. I guess the results on the track speak for themselves. It's a real credit to Donny and the vendors."
"I've never known it so strong, not just for colts but fillies too. I think the most remarkable thing is the clearance rate," added Geoffrey Howson of Howson and Houldsworth.
The second session saw 191 of 224 offered lots sold for turnover of £9,169,250, an average of £48,000 and a median of £37,000.
Those figures meant that the two days of red-hot trade returned an aggregate of £19,822,750 - a 13 per cent leap on 2016's total, while the average was up 15 points to £50,700, and the median climbed by £3,000 to £37,000. All told 391 yearlings changed hands for a clearance rate of 88 per cent.
Angel heads East
The first big strike on day two still held sway at the head of the market come the final hammer fall, with a son of Dark Angel going the way of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Mark Richards for £250,000. The colt will now head to the far east to be prepared for the 2019 International Sale that is due to be staged at Sha Tin Racecourse.
"We've bought some nice Dark Angels in previous years," said Richards, who signed for five lots on behalf of the HKJC across the two sessions for a total spend of £855,000. "This colt is a nice athletic horse and had a bit of presence and a nice walk. The team tries to find the right ones to fit our brief and I feel this lad is absolutely the right type. Hopefully he'll keep improving the page as he's a nice sort of horse. They never get any cheaper though!"
Sold by Camas Park Stud, the colt was bred by Lynch Bages, Summerfield and Camas Park Stud out of Snowfields, a Raven's Pass half-sister to Listed winner Army Of Angels, bought by BBA Ireland for €120,000 from the Darley draft at the Goffs November Mares Sale in 2013.
That transaction kickstarted a string of big prices for the sons and daughters of Dark Angel, whose progeny averaged £114,665 for 24 lots sold, with Joe Foley and Shadwell both signing for lots by the Yeomanstown linchpin at £200,000.
"I know the market is strong but it's because the quality of horses on offer is up markedly," said Foley, after signing the docket on behalf of owner Steve Parkin of Clipper Logistics.
"Everyone's got huge shortlists," he continued. "Credit to Doncaster for producing such a strong catalogue. That's our third Dark Angel this week - we had a nice winner by him on Tuesday with Revived. This colt is out of a Dandy Man mare too, so there's an added bonus! She was a very tough filly and should have won a Listed race."
Offered by Farranamanagh House Stud, the February born grey rewarded a bold pinhook by his vendor and Howson and Houldsworth Bloodstock, who parted with 70,000gns for him as a foal.
The colt is the first foal out of the Listed-placed Abbakova and is from the family of King's Stand Stakes winner Prohibit.
Meanwhile Gold was happy to keep things simple when securing a precocious-looking filly from the Stratford Place Stud draft.
"She was a bit of an obvious one in terms of she's a very nice individual by a good stallion who we've been lucky with before. She looked to have a fantastic attitude though," he said. "We've been lucky out of this family before with Muarrab - it's a very fast family all the way through."
The racy filly is the third foal out of the Listed-placed The Thrill Is Gone, a Bahamian Bounty half-sister to Bungle Inthejungle and Listed winner Waveband.
There was a brief moment of confusion after the hammer came down on the filly, with auctioneer Andrew Nolan momentarily rechristening Shadwell's man as Anthony Stroud.
"I'm honoured to be compared to the mighty Anthony Stroud!" quipped Gold with tongue firmly in cheek.
Ger Lyons outbid a host of interested parties at £210,000 for another of the session's highlights, a sharp-looking Kodiac half-brother to Mill Reef Stakes winner Toocoolforschool consigned by Norris Bloodstock.
Bred by South Acre Bloodstock, he is the sixth foal out of his dam, a winning half-sister to the Listed-placed Tucker and Grade 2-winning hurdler Beau Michael.
In total 19 Kodiacs changed hands over the two days, at an average price of £76,105 for horses bred of a £25,000 fee.
Beckford's half-sister makes her mark
A filly from the first crop of Shadwell's Coral-Eclipse winner Mukhadram forced her way into the upper echelons of the market on Wednesday when Eamonn Reilly of BBA Ireland saw off Peter Molony with a bid of £200,000.
The filly, consigned by Baroda and Colbinstown Studs, is the third foal out of the Danehill Dancer mare Whirly Dancer, which makes her a half-sister to this year's crack juvenile Beckford, who brought a huge update to the page having finished runner-up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes on his latest outing.
"He's been bought for Maurice Regan of Newtown Anner Stud, who bought Beckford after he won his maiden," revealed Reilly. "I loved the filly, there's no downside to her. Hopefully Beckford will win a Group 1 and improve the page even further. He's got a good few entries and is in races like the Middle Park Stakes. We'll take the filly back to the stud and make a decision about who will train her in due course."
The filly, who was pinhooked for just 31,000gns as a foal by an entity known only as Azziza back in November last year, is from the further Hascombe and Valiant Studs family of Inchinor.
Rock solid Society
Ross Doyle and Richard Hannon will be hoping that lightning can strike twice after parting with £160,000 for Tally-Ho Stud's colt by Society Rock out of Suffer Her. It was at this sale last year that the pair picked up another son of Society Rock from the O'Callaghans' operation in Tangled, a purchase that reaped rich dividends when the two-year-old landed the Goffs UK sales race at York during the Ebor meeting.
"Richard has Tangled for some very good owners and thinks he might be a Group horse," said Doyle. "We bought him off Roger too, so hopefully lightning might strike twice. This lad looks a real two-year-old type. Society Rock is obviously the leading first-crop sire but unfortunately is no longer with us."
The colt was bred by Tally-Ho and is a half-brother to four winners. Suffer Her meanwhile is a half-sister to the Listed-placed pair Rigolleto and Campbeltown.
Society Rock's untimely passing looks like proving a significant loss to the breeding industry, with the son of Rock Of Gibraltar's first crop having already supplied 16 winners across Britain and Ireland, including Unfortunately, who landed the Group 1 Prix Morny on his latest of six starts.
The popularity of Dark Angel seemed to have brushed off onto the progeny of his son Heeraat judging by results from Doncaster, with his eight sold lots recording an average of £54,250, which is some return for horses bred from a fee of just £4,000.
Shadwell's Angus Gold and agent Armando Duarte clashed for his headline lot, and with the former winning the day with a bid of £150,000 the colt is now set to carry the same colours as his sire did in the not too distant past.
The colt hails from Paul McCartan's Ballyphilip Stud, which is in the midst of another great season thanks to crack sprinters Harry Angel and Battaash. McCartan took up the story of how the colt came to be in his care, having been bred by Clare Lloyd and Nell Kent out of the 2012 Lily Agnes Stakes winner All Fur Coat.
"Last summer, Richard Kent [of Mickley Stud] asked me if I would come over and view some Heeraat foals," he said. "So instead of flying over, I drove over for the Tattersalls July Sale, stopped off and saw these foals - I came away with three! I liked them all so much that I bought another one this year and a breeding right in the horse himself.
"This was a fabulous horse with a great temperament - in fact they've all got fantastic temperaments. I'm very glad Angus bought him - he's gone to a great home."
At the close of trade, Goffs UK managing director Tony Williams commented: "This was undoubtedly the strongest ever Premier Sale catalogue we have assembled, we marketed it globally in an effort to establish a world-class buying bench and we achieved that with the sale now enjoying a truly international following.
"The results this sale consistently achieves on the track gave everyone confidence going into the sale and the last two days have been simply phenomenal having produced marked increases in figures across the board following a record sale last year. To see the number of six-figure horses grow from 32 to 42 clearly demonstrates that this sale is very much competing for Europe's best yearlings.
"The growth achieved over the last six years has been significant and the demand for ‘Donny yearlings’ has never been higher following the exploits of horses like Barney Roy and Harry Angel to name just two. We are indebted to our vendors who have once again raised the bar with regards to the quality of yearlings they send to us and we wish our buyers, who descended on Doncaster from around the world, the very best of luck with their purchases."