'Almost impossible to find' - standout Galileo filly breaks record
James Thomas reports from day one of the Autumn Horses In Training Sale
As a Group 2-winning daughter of the all-conquering Galileo, Elizabeth Browning stood out like a beacon in the Tattersalls Autumn Horses In Training Sale, even allowing for the fact there are 1,753 other lots in the bumper catalogue. And the filly duly lived up to her star billing as she brought an auction-record price of 700,000gns from agent Alex Elliott during Monday's initial session of the five-day sale.
After an opening bid of 100,000gns Jimmy George and Hubie de Burgh exchanged subtle nods of the head until the 600,000gns mark was reached. At that point Elliott, stationed at the top of the stairs opposite the rostrum, waded in and quickly sealed matters with a bid of 700,000gns.
Elizabeth Browning ran 16 times for trainer Aidan O'Brien and the partnership of the China Horse Club and Mrs John Magnier, winning twice, including on her latest outing which came in the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes.
"She's a daughter of Galileo who won at two and won a Group 2 at three and is a sister to a Group 1 winner – they are almost impossible to find," said Elliott. "She's for a client of mine from Europe. She won't run again as she's done her job."
The three-year-old makes for a most exciting broodmare prospect, as not only is she by the dominant stallion of the current era, but is a sister to Criterium International winner Johannes Vermeer and a granddaughter of the Ribblesdale Stakes winner Miletrian. Elizabeth Browning is the second foal of Inca Princess, a winning daughter of Holy Roman Emperor who has a Galileo filly yearling and also a filly foal by the Coolmore kingpin.
"For her to pop up in this sale, it was a good opportunity as maybe we weren't running into the people you'd meet in December," added Elliott.
The Statesman comes up trumps
The Statesman may have been a late addition to the catalogue but had clearly made his way onto plenty of shortlists as the son of Zoffany went the way of BBA Ireland for 310,000gns. The three-year-old has won his last three starts for Ian Williams, a run that has taken in cosy successes in 1m2f handicaps at Sandown and Newmarket and an impressive hurdling debut at Ludlow.
"We've been looking for a Cup horse," said BBA's Michael Donohoe, who secured the gelding on behalf of Zhang Yuesheng's YuLong Investments. "He's a gorgeous horse, very progressive with stamina but also plenty of speed. He looks a sound horse and has plenty of size and scope. We have some trainers in mind but nothing has been decided."
The Statesman, a half-brother to smart stayer Brandon Castle, was bought from the Ballydoyle draft at last year's renewal of this sale for 90,000gns by Richard Knight.
The winning way
The third-highest price of the session was paid for a horse to continue his career in Hong Kong, Dermot Farrington going to 250,000gns to secure Winning Ways.
"He's been bought with Chris McAnulty to race in Hong Kong," said Farrington. "Chris identified him a while ago and obviously I work for his owner Paul Makin, so I knew him well.
"He won very well at Ascot when John Egan rode him but things haven't really gone his way since; he ran a very good race when on the wrong side at Royal Ascot [in the Jersey Stakes]. He's just a lovely horse who's lightly raced and clean, so we're delighted to get him."
The three-year-old son of Lope De Vega won twice for Jeremy Noseda, earning a peak Racing Post Rating of 98 for his impressive victory in an Ascot handicap back in May. The colt is out of the Danehill mare Sahara Sky, a close relation of champion sprinter Owington, which makes him a half-brother to 2014 Phoenix Stakes winner Dick Whittington.
The transaction was not the first time that Australian-based McAnulty has made a big impression on these shores this year, having secured Lockheed for £900,000 at the Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot.Hugin, who was snapped up by Kam Sum Ho for 130,000gns. The three-year-old son of Henrythenavigator, offered by David Simcock's Trillium Place, is a half-brother to the smart middle-distance performer Barsanti.
"He will ship as soon as possible," said Greg Chung, who was seated with the gelding's new owner. "He's a good, workmanlike horse and his form looks progressive, which we hope will continue. He vetted very well."
The horse, who won twice from six starts for Simcock, will join the stable of Michael Chang, who trained Rich Tapestry to become the first Hong Kong-trained runner to land a race in the US in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Kirk doubles up
Willie Mullins enjoyed a Cheltenham Festival success with a graduate of this sale when Penhill landed the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle back in March – and Ireland's champion trainer now has two more recruits with whom to go to war, Harold Kirk having signed for two lots for a total of 280,000gns.
The pricier of the pair was Fast Buck, a dual winner in France by Kendargent offered by The Castlebridge Consignment. The three-year-old won over 1m4f at Lyon on his final outing for Eoghan O'Neill.
"He's drop dead gorgeous," said Kirk, who saw off attention from the likes of Tessa Greatrex, Eddie O'Leary and Tom Malone. "He reminded me of Djakadam as a three-year-old, he's the same type of model. He's in fresh form: you go and watch the video of him winning and you think that whatever he does as a three-year-old he's only going to improve.
"He's a big, strong horse with lots of scope, and he could jump a fence in the future. We haven't had many Kendargents but he's a Kendor, and that's appealing."Mister Blue Sky from Sylvester Kirk's Cedar Lodge Stables draft at 1300,000gns.
"He's been purchased as a high-class dual-purpose prospect," said Kirk. "He'll go juvenile hurdling but he might have a break first."
The son of Royal Applause, a €28,000 yearling, has won four times, including over 6f as a juvenile, and was last seen finishing third to The Statesman, who fetched 310,000gns later in the session.
Back for more
Autumn Horses In Training Sale regular and leading Qatari trainer Gassim Ghazali, who spent a seven-figure sum at last year's renewal, was back in action 12 months on, going to 120,000gns for Musical Terms from the William Haggas draft.
"He really is my nap of the sale," said Ghazali's agent Will Douglass. "He should suit Qatar very well, he gets a mile and should go on the ground. He's by Shamardal and they seem to cope very well with training on the track and the busy environment."
Bred by Darley and raced by The Queen, Musical Terms won handicaps at Ripon and Chelmsford for Haggas earlier in the year, and is the first foal of the Australian Listed winner Dysphonia, a daughter of Lonhro.
About time for Donald
Alastair Donald, who made a major splash during the yearling sales here earlier in the month, returned to the fray to snap up the progressive Zwayyan for 100,000gns.
"I don't know who will train him yet but hopefully he'll be a fun Saturday horse," said Donald. "He's had a busy year so he'll probably be given a break before we look towards next year.
"He's an improving horse. His best run was his last one and he's run some very good times - he ran a good speed figure last time out."
The son of Pivotal, a 380,000gns buy by Al Shaqab Racing, has won four of his 12 starts for William Haggas, and landed an Ascot handicap on his penultimate outing before running to a career-high RPR when fourth at York earlier in the month.
Monday's session saw 250 of 301 offered lots generate turnover of 6,600,900gns, an average of 26,400gns and a median of 14,000gns. These figures largely matched those returned at the corresponding session 12 months ago. The clearance rate took something of a hit, however, as 83 per cent sold on Monday compared to 91 per cent in 2016.
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