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'It's life changing' - huge pinhooking profit as Dark Angel colt brings £410,000

James Thomas reports from the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale

Jerry Horan: pinhooked the £410,000 top lot for €6,000
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All bets are off for the title of most successful pinhook of the year after a Dark Angel colt picked up for a mere €6,000 topped the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale at a record-breaking £410,000.

Connections of the youngster, including owners Jerry Horan and Katharina Irmer and consignors Justin Timmons and Danny O'Donovan of Dolmen Bloodstock, looked on in stunned silence as the bid board rattled through six-figure sums at a rate of knots.

Alex Elliott, standing with Amo Racing's Kia Joorabchian, pushed the price to £400,000 but the final say came from Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock, with a £10,000 increase enough to bring the gavel down.


View full Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge results and stats


"It's magic," said Timmons. "It's life-changing stuff. Jerry and Katharina took a punt with him so it's a great story all round. He could have easily been a horse who had problems but everything went well and he matured all through the winter.

"He's never put a foot wrong and everything aligned. He's got a big, floating action and he did a very professional breeze, he's just been a dream to prep."

The record-breaking £410,000 Dark Angel colt in the Park Paddocks ring

The colt, who was bred by the Wildensteins' Dayton Investments, was picked up by Horan's Paragon Bloodstock from the Ecurie des Monceaux draft at the Arqana October Yearling Sale. He is the fourth foal out of the Listed-placed Venturous Spirit, a daughter of Arch who shares her page with Group/Grade 1 performers such as Volga, Vallee Enchantee and Maids Causeway.

Expanding on how the ownership group was formed, Horan said: "I know Katharina from the sales and we were in France trying to buy yearlings to breeze when she was there working for Grove Stud.

"She said if you get something let me in on it, and this was the horse I bought - she must have taken me for dinner that evening! In fairness we can't take much credit because the horse was broken in by Clare Manning and then went to the lads at Dolmen, so they're the ones who have done all the hard work. We're just lucky enough to own him."

Justin Timmons: "It's life-changing stuff"

Thursday's result may be the biggest touch Dolmen Bloodstock have pulled off, but it is not the first as they also sold a €10,000 Make Believe colt to Blandford Bloodstock for 105,000gns at last year's Guineas Sale.

Timmons added: "You can never expect figures like that, you just try your best to get them to the sale and then through all the other hoops they've got to jump through. We've been prepping breezers for the last six or seven years and we're trying to do better each year, so it's onwards and upwards."

Plans call for the colt to remain in Newmarket, as Brown revealed his purchase will head into training with William Haggas. After signing the docket, the agent said: "Well it was significantly more than I had expected or hoped to pay!

"I thought he did an outstanding breeze and obviously the sire is one of the best in Europe. He's a gorgeous big horse and when I spoke to my client last night we highlighted him as the one – as obviously my underbidder did! I was on the phone to my client through the sale and I would say that was our last bid."

The intensity of demand for the top lot was mirrored elsewhere in the market, and by the close of trade 176 of the 193 two-year-olds on offer had changed hands for a clearance rate of 91 per cent.

Turnover hit £5,689,300, up 64 per cent year-on-year from an offering that had increased by 31 per cent. The average was up 16 per cent at £32,325 and the median remained static at £20,000.

Elliott atones

Alex Elliott may have missed out on the session-topper but he had better fortune earlier in the day when he secured the Bated Breath filly out of Polar Circle offered by Grove Stud at £240,000.

"When we come to these sales we like to try and buy the best horses and I thought she was the best filly here," said Elliott. "As the price would suggest, there were a few other people who thought the same. She did a very good breeze, she's got a pedigree and she's by a sire that I love.

"I can definitely picture her in the parade ring before a good race. She's been bought for a partnership, I don't know who's going to train her but she'll stay in Britain."

Alex Elliott: "I can definitely picture her in the parade ring before a good race"

The filly is out of the Listed-winning Royal Academy mare Polar Circle, making her a sibling to four winners, most notably the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes scorer Arctic Sound. She was another lot enjoying a fruitful second appearance at public auction, having been pinhooked by Grove's Brendan Holland for 30,000gns at Book 2 of the October Yearling Sale.

"She's a lovely filly with loads of quality, she's by a nice sire and has a bit of pedigree," said Holland. "She did a great breeze too, and at the end of the day that's what this game is all about; breeze well, sell well."

Brendan Holland: "The staff feel it as much as I do as they put so much effort into producing the horses"

He continued: "I thought she was a nice yearling, she was no mystery to me last year. I thought at that price and with that pedigree and being a nice type she was a good bet. I bought her here from Jenny Norris and it's always nice buying off good people. She's been lucky for us so I hope she's lucky for the next guy now."

Reflecting on this year's breeze-up season, Holland said: "I had a strong team and I'm more than happy with how it's worked out. It's always tough during the spring and it's as intense on the staff as much as on the horses.

"The staff feel it as much as I do as they put so much effort into producing the horses, so to see the product of their hard work being rewarded is very gratifying."

Persistence pays off with Jet Setting colt

A strong wildcard offering was led by the Dark Angel colt out of Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Jet Setting, who was making a quick return to action having been bought back by his vendor Star Bloodstock at £150,000 at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale.

The well-bred youngster put in a much more promising breeze at Newmarket and duly had a much more successful spin through the ring as Adam Driver of Global Equine Consultant Services struck a winning bid of £185,000.

"We knew he was a nice horse so we brought him back so he could prove what he could do," said Star's Matt Eves. "Diego [jockey] got him to do a three-and-a-half furlong breeze rather than a get-up-and effort and he galloped right through the line. I'm pretty convinced Adam's got a bargain but it's a good result and everyone's happy."

Eves has had a particularly close association with the colt's background, as not only did he pinhook the youngster with Byron Rogers at £180,000 at last year's Orby Sale, but he also raced Jet Setting to Classic success after picking up the daughter of Fast Company for 12,000gns through John Kilbride as a horse in training.

Driver said of his purchase: "He'll stay here in Newmarket and he's been bought to race. We'll let him settle down and think about trainers in a couple of weeks' time. He breezed lovely and we really liked him so now we'll just have to see if he's any good. He's been bought for a long-standing client."

O'Callaghan spree continues

Michael O'Callaghan has been busy restocking throughout the breeze-up season, with his acquisitions including Tuesday's impressive Tipperary scorer Twilight Jet, a joint sales-topper at Goffs UK having cost £210,000.

The Curragh-based trainer took home two of the top ten lots from Thursday's sale, headed by the £185,000 Belardo colt offered by Brown Island Stables. The strapping bay was bred by none other than Jim Bolger and is out of Prudent Approach, a sister to Dawn Approach.

"I didn't think I'd have to give that but he has a bit of size and scope and a great pedigree," said O'Callaghan. "Physically he's one of the nicest horses here and he did a very good breeze for a horse who's going to take a little bit of time. I really like him and think he's something a little bit special."

Michael O'Callaghan keeps a close eye on the bid board

Having been withdrawn from the Craven Sale, the colt was making a belated second appearance at auction. He was sold by Clare Manning's Boherguy Stud at last year's Goffs Orby Sale, where Johnny Collins signed the docket at £40,000.

"He was a grand straightforward horse," said Collins. "He was a beautiful yearling as well, a great-moving horse. There's been a very good trade all year for the upper-tier horses and I'd say that's filtered down to this sale."

O'Callaghan was back in action later in the sale when he secured a Cotai Glory colt offered by Tally-Ho Stud at £100,000.

Brown back for more

The combined forces of Church Farm and Horse Park Stud and US-based agent Chad Schumer enjoyed a big result at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale when their Distorted Humor colt sold to Peter and Ross Doyle for £260,000.

The partnership repeated the feat on Thursday when Richard Brown dipped back into the market to secure their Point Of Entry colt for £160,000.

The youngster, who is out of a Sky Mesa half-sister to the Group 3-winning and Group 1-placed Nemoralia, was signed for by Schumer at just $35,000 at the Keeneland September Sale.

"I was expecting it to be competitive for this colt, he's a big horse so to do the type of breeze he did was impressive," said Brown. "He has a bit of a knee action so I don't think he'll have appreciated the ground."

Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock

Pictures of two of Brown's previous Goresbridge buys - Lincoln scorer Haqeeqy and the Group 3 winner With Thanks - adorn the cover of this year's catalogue, and the agent reflected on a busy day of action at a sale that has proved a happy hunting ground in the past.

"The market has been amazing," said Brown. "I think it's been hard to buy the ones you want all year but this is particularly strong - it feels like trade is absolutely bouncing here, which is great to see.

"This sale has been a really happy hunting ground for us. We went to our first one probably six or seven years ago and it's been on a very steep upward trajectory since."

Linehan lands a touch

Another consignor to land a tidy bit of pinhooking profit was Eddie Linehan of Lackendarra Stables after Brown went to £115,000 for the Acclamation filly out of Heavenly Note.

Linehan gave just 6,500gns for the youngster, whose dam is out of a Listed-placed sister to Grade 1 winner Megahertz, when she was offered at Book 3 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

"We were very hopeful," said Linehan. "We thought she was going to breeze really well but she spooked at the flag and that affected her first furlong. She took off after that though and her second furlong and her gallop out were super.

"Everything has been smooth since then as she's a very sound filly, she showed great. Dan O'Meara is my main man and he's done all the work with her from day one and in the last couple of weeks she's really thrived after the weather picked up. We were confident coming here but you never know until they go and do it."

Linehan went on to explain how he came to pinhook the six-figure two-year-old for such a modest sum. He said: "I saw her one morning down with Rathbarry and loved her but thought she'd be out of my league, to be honest.

"When she came up to the ring I was only half keeping an eye on her but when I saw she was making very little money I quickly rang my father and he said throw one bid in. That's what I did and that's what bought her. I was almost waiting to see what was wrong with her but got her home and she's just thrived since."


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Aidan O'Brien and Mick Kinane reflect on the career of Galileo

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