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Medaglia D'Oro colt the main event at £675,000 as records fall at Arqana

James Thomas reports from the Goffs UK sales complex in Doncaster

The sale-topping Medaglia D'Oro colt in the Doncaster ring before being knocked down at £675,000
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A three-way shootout between a trio of heavy-hitting bidders saw a Medaglia D'Oro colt consigned by Malcolm Bastard top the relocated Arqana Breeze-Up Sale on Friday at £675,000.

There had been plenty of talk about the youngster after he put up a breeze that was as pleasing on the eye as it was on the clock, and in the event it was Anthony Stroud, acting on behalf of Godolphin, who delivered the final bid as he stood by the parade ring in a drizzly Doncaster.

Jamie McCalmont, stood with Thady Gosden on the opposite side of the parade ring, and Oliver St Lawrence, who was hidden away by the gangway, provided some determined opposition.

The colt is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Shelbysmile, and provided connections with a tidy windfall having been picked up by Bastard and Alex Kershaw for $175,000 at Fasig-Tipton last October.

"He's a fantastic horse, he breezed great and he's got a superb temperament," said the consignor. "There's a lot of improvement to come from him too. He's been a very nice horse from day one, he just needed to fill into his frame. He's done nothing but improve through the spring. The sale being put back has helped him a lot as he was immature to start with."

Despite all the sales ground whispers about the horse, Bastard, Britain's longest-serving breeze-up vendor whose roll of honour includes the likes of Harbour Law, Libertarian and Native Khan, said he had not been swept up by the hype.

"I don't get excited because I know what the horse business is like," he said flatly. "It's turning out to be a very good sale though and we've sold an extremely nice horse for a fantastic price. There are a lot of nice horses here and the important thing is that they go on and win for the people who have bought them."

Medaglia D'Oro, the most expensive stallion on Darley's US roster at $150,000, has sired 26 Group/Grade 1 winners, including the likes of Rachel Alexandra, Songbird and the Andre Fabre-trained Talismanic. Stroud revealed Godolphin's latest recruit would also be trained by the iconic French handler.

"Malcolm Bastard is a fantastic consignor," said Stroud. "This horse really hit the target and now he'll go to Andre Fabre for Godolphin. I think he'll take his time with him and go from there. He was a standout here today."

Ribchester filly takes centre stage

There was another almighty sales ring tussle later in the session when Blandford Bloodstock's Richard Brown saw off Alex Elliott, stood with Paul Shanahan and Jamie McCalmont, with a bid of £590,000 to secure the Ribchester filly out of Cheap Thrills offered by Church Farm and Horse Park Stud.

The transaction generated another major pinhooking success story as she had cost just £45,000 at last year's Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale.

"She was always a special filly and all she's done is please us," said Horse Park Stud's John Cullinan, who operates in tandem with Roger Marley.

"We thought she was a sharper type when we bought her but she stretched and grew, but she was always very nice and had a fantastic stride and a great attitude. I'm delighted Richard Brown bought her because he bought Nymphadora off us last year and he's a good judge."

Cullinan added: "She's been very busy here but showed great right through the whole thing and didn't put a foot wrong. We knew she was going to make a good price but I never expected anything like that, I had no idea at all she'd go that far. It doesn't happen too often but it's great when it does."

The filly, whose dam is a sibling to no fewer than seven black type performers, including Rathasker Stud resident Bungle Inthejungle, has bred five winners, most notably the Listed-placed Expensive Date.

"She did a phenomenal breeze, she's got a great stride on her and she's a very, very attractive filly," said Brown. "It's a proper pedigree, it's Chris Wright's family and there's a horse down the page called Classic Encounter who I bought a long time ago before he was placed in the Norfolk, so I know the family a bit.

"I'm a massive fan of Ribchester, there's a huge word about him, so I'm delighted to get her. It was more than I thought we'd have to give, by quite some way, but rightly or wrongly I thought she was the best breeze-up filly I've seen this year and thankfully the client was happy to back my judgement. I can't say who she's been bought for and a trainer is still to be decided upon."

Night Of Thunder filly a natural

During a frenetic ending to the sale Brown's Blandford Bloodstock colleague Stuart Boman went to £500,000 for the Night Of Thunder filly out of Catchline offered by Yeomanstown Stud.

The filly, whose dam is a sibling to the top-flight winners Ancient World and Jilbab, was another lot who had appreciated markedly in value after an eye-catching breeze, as she was retained by her vendor Grangemore Stud at 50,000gns at last year's yearling sales.

"She's a lovely filly who did an outstanding breeze," said Boman. "She breezed very naturally. Yeomanstown don't necessarily breeze with the clock in mind so I felt her times, when you factored that in, were very good and she maintained her speed the whole way through. She's an outstanding physical too.

"I'm slightly surprised by how far we went, my valuation wasn't that high, but she's been bought for Mr [Jurgen] Sartori and will go to Andreas Suborics in Germany; he's a very promising younger trainer who's having a great run at the moment.

"This is actually the first horse we've bought together but we've discussed this filly at length and he's very excited to train her."

Kingman reigns

Another of the session's talking horses was the Kingman half-brother to Group 1 winner Miss Yoda, who was offered by Brendan Holland's Grove Stud. After a rapid-fire round of bidding the strapping colt was knocked down to Arqana's executive director Freddy Powell at £500,000.

Powell, who was taking instructions on the phone throughout the bidding, revealed he had been acting on behalf of a new owner to the horseracing business, although he was unable to say where the horse will be trained.

"He's been bought by a new owner from Singapore called Kuldeep Singh," said Powell. "I'm not sure where the horse will be trained yet, I need to call him back for all the details. He's a lovely horse who galloped really well so the owner was really keen to have him."

The colt was making a belated second appearance at public auction, having been picked up as a foal by Baroda Stud at 340,000gns before being withdrawn from last year's Goffs Orby Sale.

The Kingman half-brother to Miss Yoda sells for £500,000

The sale of the Kingman colt capped a productive few minutes for Grove Stud, as the preceding lot, a No Nay Never colt out of the Zoffany mare Mona Vale, was also offered by Holland's County Cork operation and went the way of Alex Elliott and McCalmont at £300,000.

"The only problem is it's all downhill from here!" quipped Holland, vendor of Group 1 performers such as Rosdhu Queen, Stormy Antarctic and The Grey Gatsby. "I was hoping they'd sell well and it just so happened they were two exceptionally nice horses being sold back-to-back.

"Both of them are by exciting young sires and breezed exceptionally well. You're always hopeful when you know they can run but it still has to happen on the day and thankfully it worked out great."

Holland added: "This is a very international sale now and even though there isn't as strong an attendance as you need, overseas owners still have people working here so it seems to be going along grand."

Elliott and McCalmont team up

Having signed for the £300,000 No Nay Never colt, whose page features Group 1 form from the likes of Ana Marie and Lord Glitters, Elliott said: "He's by an exceptional sire in No Nay Never, he did an exceptional breeze and he was an exceptional physical. I bought him with Jamie McCalmont for a new partnership and he was a horse that we both honed in on.

"I used to work for Jamie when I first came back to England from the States and it's nice to link up together and buy a horse. Partnerships are becoming more and more common; it limits people's risk and if people are prepared to do it, it gives you a great advantage to buy a horse because you can pool your funds.

Lot 48: the No Nay Never colt bought by Alex Elliott and Jamie McCalmont for £300,000

"We're very excited by the new partnership; we looked at buying in America at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale but we didn’t get anything.

"Arqana have done a fantastic job to get this whole thing going and they have produced some top horses. It's a really good catalogue and the physicals match up to the book and the breezes match up to the physicals and the book.

"Being so close to Royal Ascot is not ideal, but I would just like to commend Arqana and Goffs for getting the whole thing going."

Dubawi colt in demand

Although St Lawrence came up short on the top lot, he had much better fortune when going in pursuit of the Dubawi colt out of All At Sea offered by Norman Williamson's Oak Tree Farm, with a bid of £480,000 enough to deny Scandinavian agent Morten Buskop.

"He's a backward colt who I thought had done particularly well over the winter," said St Lawrence. "I remember him as a yearling and Norman has clearly done a great job with him since last year's sale.

The Dubawi colt out of All At Sea sells for £480,000

"He's still a baby and will take quite a bit of time, he's got a lot of maturing to do and whether he sees a racecourse this year or not I don't know. Hopefully he can mature into his pedigree. He's for Fawzi Nass but I don't know who'll train him."

The youngster, whose dam is a three-time Listed-winning daughter of Kirsten Rausing's fantastic Albanova, was making her second appearance at public auction, having been signed for by Mags O'Toole and Oak Tree Farm at £110,000 at last year's Goffs Orby Sale.

Medaglia D'Oro doubles up

The top lot was not the only big result for a son of Medaglia D'Oro on the day, as earlier in the session Ted Voute struck a £325,000 private deal for a colt by the same sire who had initially been withdrawn by Gaybrook Lodge Stud.

The colt, the first foal out of the Grade 1-placed Sky Mesa mare Paige, was sourced on behalf of Prince Faisal's Nawara Stud.

Voute said: "He'll head to George Peckham for a bit of rest and recuperation for the moment. He'll probably stay in Newmarket after that as we have two trainers there, Roger Varian and John Gosden.

"We'll see where we are in a couple of weeks but he looks like a backend two-year-old. After the other Medaglia D'Oro sold, he looks cheap now!"

Expanding on his approach to buying at the breeze-ups, Voute said: "I normally go through the pedigrees and then the Prince looks at all the pictures and videos online, before I go through the breezes and then whittle the catalogue down once I've seen the individuals in the flesh.

"We're looking for those top-end mile to ten-furlong horses, so we had him, the Kingman and Malcolm's Medaglia D'Oro on our shortlist. Thankfully we were lucky enough to get this one."

Stroud on a spree

As well securing the top lot for Godolphin, Stroud also made a number of notable acquisitions who are set to join the Simon Crisford stable, including a £215,000 Night Of Thunder colt offered by Brown Island Stables and the Lope De Vega half-brother to Breton Rock who realised £350,000 when offered by Mocklershill.

"He hit very good figures when we assessed the times and stride lengths and he's a nice horse, although he'll possibly need a bit more time," said Stroud after signing for the Lope De Vega colt.

"That was a little bit more than we anticipated spending, but Simon has bought a number of nice horses from the breeze-ups, including A'Ali, so we were keen to get him."

Both colts showed a tidy bit of pinhooking profit, with the Night Of Thunder signed for as a yearling at €87,000, while the Lope De Vega had been picked up for €155,000 as a foal prior to being retained by Pier House Stud at 110,000gns at last year's Book 1.

Church Farm and Horse Park in good Humor

As well as the £590,000 Ribchester filly, Church Farm and Horse Park Stud also enjoyed a good result earlier on in the session when they sold the Distorted Humor colt out of Listen AP to Peter and Ross Doyle for £260,000.

The colt, a half-brother to the Grade 2-winning Silentio and the Grade 1-placed No Word, had been picked up privately by agent Chad Schumer after he had been retained by his vendor at just $25,000 at last year's Keeneland September Sale.

"He's been bought for long-standing clients Stall Perlen and will be trained in Oslo by Wido Neuroth," said Peter Doyle.

"They've had some very good horses down the years and they want to win the Derby in Sweden. We thought this horse was the perfect type. They also have the favourite for this year's race, a horse called No Short Cuts, who was bought here last year by Ross [for £100,000]."

Final figures

By the close of trade the sale had generated turnover of £13,052,500, up 45 per cent year-on-year, an average of £119,750, down 15 per cent, and a median of £85,000, up 12 per cent from £76,000 some 12 months ago. Both the aggregate and average were new sale records. 

The clearance rate was 89 per cent as 109 of 123 offered lots sold.

Reflecting on a successful day of selling, Arqana's Freddy Powell said: "It shows that the catalogue was so strong that it has been appreciated worldwide. We've had people bidding from all over. All things considered we have to be satisfied.

"It's difficult to compare the figures to last year, when we had far fewer horses, but the figures will be very similar to 2019 and 2018, when we had an aggregate of around €15 million.

"The median is close to €100,000, which is incredible from that number of horses. I think it shows the depth of the catalogue. The vendors have been amazing to adapt again - we had to change the date and change the venue - and when you have horses of that value, for things to change all the time is not easy when you are preparing them for a breeze.

"That is why we had to make our decision early. But today has been very satisfying, especially the clearance rate, and we have had the highest median ever as well as record aggregate."

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Firm foundations or falling flat? How the breeze-up season is shaping up so far

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It was more than I thought we'd have to give, by quite some way, but rightly or wrongly I thought she was the best breeze-up filly I've seen this year
E.W. Terms