Rare appearance from big-spending owner sees Grangeclare West fetch £430,000
James Thomas reports from the relocated Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale
Cheveley Park Stud made two notable additions to its already formidable National Hunt string on Thursday as David and Patricia Thompson's operation secured the two most expensive lots at the relocated Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale, headed by the £430,000 Grangeclare West.
With the boutique auction having switched from Prestbury Park to Park Paddocks in Newmarket, David Thompson made a rare visit to Tattersalls, where he saw his team emerge victorious from a titanic tussle.
As Grangeclare West took to the ring, auctioneer Richard Botterill received an opening bid of £100,000 from Tom Malone. With the likes of Matt Coleman also involved early on, the price quickly rattled up to £280,000, at which point Malone gestured a £20,000 increase from his position by the ringside.
Despite Malone's determination, the Cheveley Park Stud team, huddled behind the partition, quickly responded to their rival's every move. Malone pushed the price to £420,000 with a clear nod, but when another £10,000 increase came straight back, his head dropped and there was a dejected response when Botterill asked if he had another hand to play.
The top lot, who made a striking winning debut at Lingstown for Jamie Codd and Denis Murphy of Ballyboy Stables, will now head to Gordon Elliott.
"He looks the part and Jamie Codd was mad about him," said Elliott by telephone shortly after the hammer had fallen. "Thanks to Mr and Mrs Thompson for buying us another nice horse. Hopefully he can be half as good as Envoi Allen is. This horse looks the real deal and that's the kind of price you have to go to to get the real deal."
Grangeclare West, a son of Presenting, provided connections with an almighty windfall having been picked up by Joey Logan at €62,000 at last year's Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale, where he was offered by Glenwood Stud.
Logan was in attendance at Park Paddocks, and said: "I'm very, very happy, we're delighted. We knew he was a nice horse coming here and, to be fair, the two bidders got stuck in and are both very good judges of a horse."
Reflecting on how he came to own the high-class prospect, Logan added: "He was a beautiful individual and a great walking horse. I'd actually seen him at Dick Frisby's before the Derby Sale and loved him and had been looking forward to trying to buy him.
"It's worked out great and I hope he's very lucky for his new connections. That was a phenomenal price and we weren't expecting it."
Logan was joined by Murphy, who said: "He was very straightforward to train, all the good ones are. He ran at Lingstown, good horses usually win their four-year-old maidens there and he did the job very easily. I'm pleased he made the money for Joey and now it's important he goes on for the new owners."
Out of the Sir Harry Lewis mare Hayabusa, a half-sister to Rowland Meyrick Chase scorer Gunner Welburn, Grangeclare West is himself a half-brother to two winners, most notably JP McManus's smart chaser Coeur Joyeux.
He has now changed hands at public auction on three occasions, having been pinhooked as a foal by Richard Frisby for €29,000.
Cheveley Park Stud double up
A short while later the same connections were back in action and went to £310,000 to deny Anthony Bromley as Tinahely maiden winner Guily Billy took to the famous sales ring. The four-year-old son of Coastal Path, an €80,000 Goffs Land Rover Sale store buy, was trained and consigned by Monbeg Stables' Donnchadh Doyle.
"I'm very happy and it's a good price," said Doyle. "He's a lovely horse though; I spent a good bit of money to get him, I spent a bit extra than I said I would on the day of the sale.
"You couldn't miss him though, he's a lovely big grey horse with a great step. I've had a lot of luck with Coastal Path too. He's gone to Gordon so hopefully he'll do good things."
No walk of life has gone unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic, including the Irish point-to-point scene, but now that some semblance of normality has returned, with racing between the flags having resumed in September, Doyle said he was focussed on putting the disruption behind him.
"It's been a tricky year but at least the sales are getting going now and hopefully we'll catch up," he said. "Next year might be tricky; I think it'll take a year for the backlog of horses to get moving as there are still plenty of horses left to run.
"There's been a lot of pressure on stables and staff but we'll keep at it and hopefully we'll get through it."
Cheveley Park Stud have quickly assembled a high-class jumps string, with the likes of the unbeaten five-time Grade 1 winner Envoi Allen, Royal Bond Novice Hurdle hero Ballyadam, Cheltenham Festival winners A Plus Tard and Ferny Hollow, as well as the exciting Sir Gerhard, having carried the familiar red, white and blue silks.
"They've had a great year and obviously Envoi Allen is a very, very special horse," said the stud's managing director Chris Richardson, who accompanied David Thompson at the sale.
"It's given Mr Thompson a tremendous amount of pleasure. We knew there was one horse we were particularly keen on this morning [Grangeclare West] and Gordon introduced him to another, so he's decided to buy Guily Billy as well.
"The Thompsons are amazing people and they support every aspect of the industry. I knew he wanted to do some shopping today but I didn't expect him to turn up. I'm delighted to see him here as it's been a few years since he's been at any sale.
"Mr Thompson is of an age where going racing isn't as easy as it used to be, but he takes a tremendous interest and hopefully come Cheltenham time we'll be lucky enough to have people back and he'll be there."
Gavin grabs the Glory
Two other lots fetched a six-figure sum, including Ballyboy Stables' Captain Quint, who finished runner-up to Guily Billy at Tinahely and was knocked down to Gerry Hogan Bloodstock and Rose Dobbin at £110,000.
The other was Fameaftertheglory, a debut winner at Mainstown for Donnchadh Doyle, who went the way of Gavin Cromwell at £100,000.
Cromwell said: "He's a nice model and comes well recommended. He was a bit green the day he won so there's more to come and hopefully he can make up into a nice horse.
"I think he'll be out next in the spring, hopefully in a bumper. We'll get him home and see how we get on."
The four-year-old son of Fame And Glory, a €42,000 store purchase, is out of Milan Athlete, a daughter of Milan who hails from the family of Ballycasey and Royal Athlete.
The short, sharp session of selling saw 32 of 44 offered lots sell for a clearance rate of 73 per cent. Those transactions generated turnover of £2,378,000, down 34 per cent on 2019's renewal, when 40 lots sold for £3,589,000.
The average price was £74,310, down 17 per cent year-on-year, and the median closed at £47,500, down 21 per cent on the £60,000 recorded at Cheltenham 12 months ago.