Mixed emotions for Jossestown Farm as Plying finds new home at €825,000
Dam of Alcohol Free was sourced at Goffs for just €21,000 in 2018
A sea of masked faces and a palpable sense of expectation greeted Plying as she entered the bustling Goffs ring at around 5.15pm on day one of the November Breeding Stock Sale on Friday.
But after the dam of three-time Group 1 winner Alcohol Free had been knocked down to Michael Donohoe of BBA Ireland at €825,000, there were decidedly mixed emotions for the mare's previous owners.
"It's a funny one," said Martin Cooney of Jossestown Farm, who sourced Plying for just €21,000 three years ago. "It's a bittersweet thing. Obviously you're delighted she made plenty of money, but at the same time you don't really want to sell her. The first thing I was thinking when I was watching the bidding was where will she end up.
"Everyone's coming and saying, 'Jesus! Well done!' But you're just sort of left thinking she's gone now. But that's just the way it is. They'd be part of the family at home so you become very attached to them. It's not as if we've 50 mares."
Despite being only an 11-year-old, Plying has already compiled a substantial sales history. She was first signed for by Mark Johnston at $200,000 at Fasig-Tipton in 2011 before she went on to win three races in France for Alex Pantall and Sheikh Mohammed.
She was sold by Darley at the end of her three-year-old season and made just €12,000 to the bid of BBA Ireland. She spent the next five years as a member of the Churchtown House Stud broodmare band, from where she bred her three winners, Alexander James, Johan Zoffani and Alcohol Free.
Plying came back on the market for the third time in November 2018, when the Jossestown team of Cooney and partner Elaine Shaw secured the daughter of Hard Spun while she was carrying her fifth foal, the Starspangledbanner filly Hooked On You.
The page has improved at a rate of knots since Plying was purchased by the Fethard-based outfit, as her second foal, Alexander James, subsequently broke his maiden by 13 lengths before scoring at Listed level, while Alcohol Free, who changed hands for €40,000 just two days before her dam sold, won the 2020 Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at two and followed that up with victories in the Coronation and Sussex Stakes.
"She owes us absolutely nothing and she never did," continued Cooney. "From the moment we got her it's only been a good story, she's been 100 per cent the whole way. We knew from an early stage that she was special. I know these mares don't come around very often."
When asked what he planned to do with the dividend he received from the sale of Plying, Cooney said: "I'll probably try to find another one like her. I've just put up a new barn and hopefully this will help bring the place to the next level. We've only a couple of our own mares but we're starting to board a few now so I'll start taking in more of those. If I can I'll try to consign a few more as I like that gig. I'll keep things simple though, I'm not going to get carried away."
While the Jossestown team were left to reflect on a rollercoaster of emotions having seen their pride and joy change hands, there was an unmistakable excitement emanating from the successful purchaser, who had to see off the attentions of Adrian Nicoll, who stood with Simon Marsh.
"She's been bought for Yulong Investments," said Donohoe. "We thought it was a fantastic opportunity, to be able to buy the dam of what we think is a champion filly. Alcohol Free is such a tough, honest, top-class filly. She's staying in training next year I believe so there's more to look forward to with her.
"It's not just a flash in the pan either as the mare has produced another stakes winner and she has a very nice covering by a stallion that's very close to Mr Zhang's heart in Lope De Vega. We believe she's carrying a filly so hopefully she'll be another to join the broodmare band in time. We thought she made very good sense. When you see the bid board converted to British pounds, we thought she represented very good value."
Donohoe was decked out in a jacket bearing the name of Lucky Vega, who carried Yuesheng Zhang's colours to victory in the Phoenix Stakes and is set to begin his northern hemisphere stallion career at the Irish National Stud next year.
"A plan is undecided for next year but it's possible she could go to Lucky Vega," said Donohoe. "Danzig is up there in the pedigree and Lucky Vega is a lovely big horse, she's a medium-sized mare so he'd suit any of those mares Mr Zhang is buying. He's one of those stallions who's easy to mate."
Derrinstown draft in demand
The Derrinstown Stud draft provided the session's early highlights, including when Coolmore's MV Magnier outlasted Peter Molony and John Clarke to secure Garmoosha on a bid of €430,000.
The unraced daughter of Kingmambo and Oaks heroine Eswarah is best known as the dam of Raabihah, winner of the Group 2 Prix de Pomone and runner-up to Tarnawa in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.
She was last covered by Raabihah's sire Sea The Stars but is believed not to be in foal.
"She's a really nice mare and has been a good producer already," said Magnier. "She'll probably go to Wootton Bassett or St Mark's Basilica I'd say. We haven't had one like St Mark's for a very long time, he was a very special horse. There are plenty of good mares booked into him already so he's going down very well."
Another big-money buy bound for St Mark's Basilica's debut book is Madhmoon's dam Aaraas, who went the way of John McCormack at €380,000. The 12-year-old daughter of Haafhd won once and was twice placed in Group 3 company for Shadwell and Kevin Prendergast. She was believed not to be in foal having been covered by Night Of Thunder.
"She's been bought for an overseas client," said McCormack. "We don't plan to ship her straight away so we've been looking at all the new stallions who've retired this year and locally we think the best prospect is St Mark's Basilica.
"He's a great-looking horse who's beautifully bred and was very accomplished on the racecourse. This is a very accomplished mare, she's already done it, so we think that's a good marriage. There are some terrific stallions in England and Ireland at the moment and it's great to see that as it encourages anyone from overseas to keep their stock here."
Aaraas is out of the Listed-winning Adaala, making her a half-sister to six winners, including Asheerah, dam of Shadwell's Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Awtaad.
McCormack added: "She's proven, and that's the main point. When you're at a broodmare sale people source proven mares if you can help it because your safety is in a mare's record, as opposed to trying to work out if it can all happen. She was well appreciated here, more than I expected actually. When I looked around the ring I saw who I would consider good breeders on her and that's what you want to see."
After a racing career that saw him land the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes and finish runner-up to Anthony Van Dyck in the 2019 Derby, Madhmoon began his stallion career at Haras du Saz in France earlier this year.
The Derrinstown Stud draft also contained the €550,000 Riqa, who was offered in foal to Kingman and went the way of Barronstown Stud. The Listed-placed daughter of Dubawi has bred three winners, including Teofilo's three-time Group 3-winning daughter Tantheem.
Riqa is a sibling to five winners, most notably the Listed scorer Motamarris, the Listed-placed Saraaba and Wadyhatta, dam of Coolmore's Irish Derby winner Santiago. There was also a Group 1 update under Riqa's second dam, Al Ishq, as Muhawalah is not only a sibling to Tamayuz but now the dam of British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes heroine Eshaada.
The Derrinstown Stud draft, which forms part of the Shadwell Estates reduction, saw 34 sold lots from 34 offered, which brought turnover of €4,328,000, 31 per cent of the session's aggregate sales.
Lamb a fan of Feminism
The power of the pedigree update was in evidence later in the session when Feminism was offered by The Castlebridge Consignment. The four-year-old daughter of Shamardal was bought by Barry Lynch for just 34,000gns at the Tattersalls July Sale only four months ago, when she was listed as a sibling to one winner.
The unraced two-year-old Dubawi colt listed on her Tattersalls catalogue page subsequently revealed himself to be Modern Games, whose four victories culminated with a dominant display in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Those exploits helped to convince Jill Lamb to part with €370,000 for the four-year-old Feminism.
"Delighted to get her," said Lamb. "She's a lovely physical with a lot of quality. It's a fabulous family; you have Modern Games for next year, although he's already done it, and Modern News looks like he might get black type as well. She's for Newsells Park Stud and it's very exciting to get her."
Feminism's brother Modern News is now rated 111 having gone unbeaten during a three-race three-year-old campaign, while the rest of the pedigree has no shortage of black type. Her dam, Modern Ideals, is a New Approach sibling to three stakes performers, most notably Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Ultra.
Yulong throws support behind Lucky Vega
The sales-topping Plying was not the only six-figure purchase made by Michael Donohoe on behalf of Yulong Investments, with a five-strong haul that totalled €1,870,000 also including the likes of the €330,000 Eytarna, who was plucked from the Aga Khan Studs draft carrying to Teofilo.
The 15-year-old daughter of Dubai Destination has already bred five successful sons and daughters, including Group 2 Blandford Stakes scorer Eziyra and the Listed-winning Eshera, whose son Erzindjan, by Lope De Vega, won two races and was runner-up in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes.
"She's for Yulong Investments and we wanted to buy two or three nice mares this week to send to Lucky Vega and support him," said Donohoe.
"Mr Zhang is going to really strongly support him at the foal and yearling sales but he wanted to get a couple of nice mares to help start him off in Ireland. She's a proven performer from a great family and Lope De Vega has already worked in it, so she’ll be an ideal mare for him. So Unique [€265,000] is also for Lucky Vega."
Lucky Vega is due to begin covering duties at the Irish National Stud at a fee of €15,000, while he also stands at Yulong's Australian stud alongside the likes of Written Tycoon.
McCormack eyes American opportunities
One of Eytarna's daughters also changed hands for big money later in the session when John McCormack went to €350,000 for the three-year-old Eylara. The daughter of Gleneagles won one of her six outings for Dermot Weld, and was last seen running second to Horoscope at Killarney in mid-July.
"She has been bought to go to America and she could race on," said McCormack. "Pat Downes, who I have known for a long time, was very complimentary about her and said there was still racing in her. She's a daughter of Gleneagles, who's such a beautifully-bred horse there is no reason why he can't be a broodmare sire, and she has a fantastic pedigree. It's definitely all there on the dam's side, who made €360,000 earlier today.
"If there's some sort of a chance that she can race on, there are a lot of opportunities in America for her if she can keep it together, but we won't be greedy.
"I stretched a bit more than I wanted but that's the way the day has been. If you want something then you have to be prepared to go between 30 per cent and 40 per cent more than where your comfort zone is because that is the market. It was that way in America, it's the same here this week and it will be the same in the following weeks."
Buoyed by sizeable drafts from major owner-breeders, notably Shadwell, the Aga Khan and Godolphin, day one of the November Breeding Stock Sale produced some sensational year-on-year increases.
Turnover was up by 154 per cent to €13,913,500, while the average rose by 123 per cent to €70,627 and the median was up 114 per cent to €30,000, having been €14,000 at last year's one-day renewal.
The clearance rate was a very solid 86 per cent, as 197 of 228 offered lots found a buyer.
The Goffs November Breeding Stock Sale continues on Saturday at 10am.
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