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‘I think she was good value at that price’ - Shanahan steps in at 280,000gns as Whispering Words tops July Sale opener

James Thomas reports from the opening session at Park Paddocks

Charles Shanahan: "
Charles Shanahan: bought the sales topper for Timmy HydeCredit: Laura Green

Buyers seized the opportunity as Godolphin pruned their broodmare band during a damp opening to the Tattersalls July Sale. Sheikh Mohammed’s operation sold 21 lots on Tuesday, a group that generated receipts worth 1,139,000gns and included three of top for lots on the day. 

The market was led by Godolphin homebred Whispering Words, who was signed for by BBA Ireland having been knocked down to Charles Shanahan, son of Coolmore’s Paul Shanahan, at 280,0000gns. The four-year-old daughter of Dubawi, winner of one of her five starts for Charlie Appleby, was offered in foal to Kingman. 

“It’s a great pedigree and being by Dubawi is very important,” said Shanahan. “He seems to be doing very good things as a broodmare sire. She’s in foal to Kingman as well, and he’s having such a good year, so I think she was good value at that price. She’s been bought for Timmy Hyde and my father will take a piece of her too. She’ll go back to Camas Park Stud.” 

Godolphin's Whispering Words sells to BBA Ireland for 280,000gns on the first day of the Tattersalls July Sale
Godolphin's Whispering Words sells to BBA Ireland for 280,000gns on the first day of the Tattersalls July SaleCredit: Laura Green

Whispering Words is the first foal out of the Listed-winning New Approach mare Hadith. Her new connections may well expect to receive an important update or two as Hadith also has a two-year-old filly by Dubawi on the ground and produced a filly by Wootton Bassett for Godolphin on May 1 last year. 

There is plenty of top-level form back in the pedigree as Hadith is out of Sweet Solera Stakes scorer Discourse, who in turn is a sibling to Grade 1 winner Bandini and Najoum, who is better known as the dam of four-time Group 1 scorer Lord North. 

Being in foal to Kingman means Whispering Words’ first foal will be bred on the same cross as Zardozi, who is one of 12 Group/Grade 1 winners by the sire after her victory in last year’s Kennedy Oaks at Flemington. 

Something new and something blue for Newsells Park

The very next lot into the ring brought the session’s second-highest price as Newsells Park Stud went to 270,000gns for the Listed-placed Art Of Magic. The four-year-old daughter of Invincible Spirit was offered in foal to second-season sire sensation Blue Point. 

“As an individual she was probably the nicest mare we saw, and she was mated very commercially with Blue Point, which was very attractive for an operation like ours,” said Newsells’ general manager Julian Dollar. “Blue Point looks very exciting and has gone on with his three-year-olds, so that appealed. When we factored in what the foal might make, if that's half decent, then I think she ended up being quite reasonable value.” 

Art Of Magic heads the way of Newsells Park Stud for 270,000gns
Art Of Magic heads the way of Newsells Park Stud for 270,000gnsCredit: Laura Green

Dollar continued: “She’s been bought for Newsells Park Stud’s breeding fund. We also have You Got To Me and Sibila Spain as part of that, and the idea is to give people an opportunity to get into breeding and to come with us in what we’re doing. Some of the people who’ve been involved in the racing partnerships have got involved on the breeding side and they’ve really enjoyed being able to see that side of the business."

Art Of Magic began her career with Charlie Appleby but moved to the French stable of Henri-Alex Pantall after her juvenile season. She won three races in France and was second in Listed contests at Hoppegarten and Saint-Cloud. Her pedigree features high-achievers such as Territories and goes back to third dam Helen Street, who won the Irish Oaks before breeding Street Cry and Shamardal’s dam, Helsinki. 

Invincible Spirit’s reputation as a broodmare sire has not always reached the same heights as his own stud career. But, with his daughters having bred this year’s 2,000 Guineas winner Notable Speech and Norfolk Stakes scorer Shareholder, Dollar said the market may start to look upon the son of Green Desert more favourably in this department. 

“That was definitely a factor and I had the handbrake on slightly,” Dollar said when asked about Invincible Spirit’s record as damsire. “Graham asked me what her value was and I said probably 250,000gns, but that I thought she was in a sweet spot for people and, because she’s such an attractive mare, that she’d probably make over 300,000gns. I said that wouldn’t be value, but if we could get her for 250,000gns and a bid, there’s room to play. There’s an odd ray of light for Invincible Spirit as a broodmare sire too, and Darley are great to buy from.” 

Hope Diamond
Hope Diamond with her No Nay Never filly foal at Park PaddocksCredit: Laura Green

Two of the day’s bigger lots were secured by buyers not present in the ring. Leading German farm Gestüt Fährhof signed for Hope Diamond, an unraced Galileo half-sister to Danedream, outside of the ring at 250,000gns. The five-year-old is also a sibling to Venice Beach, Broadway and this year’s Queen's Vase winner Illinois. She was offered by Baroda Stud with a No Nay Never filly foal at foot and in foal to the same Coolmore stallion. 

A few lots later Japanese organisation JS Company went to 150,000gns for the Godolphin-consigned Menuetto, who is in foal to Teofilo. The nine-year-old daughter of Dubawi is the dam of one winner from as many runners. Her first foal is Magnum Opus, who doubled his tally for Simon and Ed Crisford with a clear-cut success at Pontefract earlier in the month. 

McKeever Hot on Too Darn covering 

Recent winner Topanga will make her way to Australia to join the broodmare band of Gary Johnson, but not before she visits Too Darn Hot at Dalham Hall Stud for a southern hemisphere time covering.

Johnson outbid bloodstock agent Cathy Grassick at 135,000gns before Johnny McKeever signed the docket for the Kingsclere-consigned offering. 

Topanga was bred and raced by Fittocks Stud and Andrew Stone and doubled her career tally when she landed a seven furlong Haydock handicap on Friday. That effort earned her a career-high Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 91. 

“Gary Johnson, whose operation comes out of Three Bridges Thoroughbreds in Victoria, has a reasonably large broodmare band building from Europe because he likes our slightly more staying bloodlines,” said McKeever. “He keeps all his mares at Peter Stanley’s New England Stud and is here on his annual July race meeting visit. We’re gradually buying up mares who’ll be covered to southern hemisphere time after living in England for a year or so. Then they’ll go on to join Toby Liston at Three Bridges.

Johnny McKeever
Johnny McKeever: "She’s a beautiful filly, very, very good looking"Credit: Alisha Meeder

“This filly will most likely be covered by Too Darn Hot to southern hemisphere time, although she might stay in training for a few months and see if there’s a chance of grabbing a bit of black type somewhere. Probably with Andrew Balding, because then we can keep her in the routine she’s used to. It’s an amazing back family and she’s a beautiful filly, very, very good looking. That was important because a good physique is paramount.”

The three-year-old filly is the first foal out of Time Tunnel, a daughter of Invincible Spirit and Juddmonte’s Falmouth Stakes heroine Timepiece. In turn, Timepiece is a sibling to Passage Of Time, winner of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud during her racing days and the dam of Time Test during her time at paddocks.

Time Tunnel was bought for the Fittocks-Stone partnership by Blandford Bloodstock at 260,000gns in 2019. 

Darley’s Too Darn Hot has got off to a hugely promising start at stud in both hemispheres, with his first European crop including Irish 1,000 Guineas and Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Fallen Angel, while his debut Australian crop is headlined by Broadsiding, winner of the Group 1 J.J Atkins and the Champagne Stakes. 

It was recently announced that Too Darn Hot will not be returning to Darley’s Kelvinside base in 2024, prompting a rush on southern hemisphere covers for mares based in Europe. 

Topanga: set to visit Too Darn Hot for a southern hemisphere cover Credit: Alisha Meeder

“There were a lot of disappointed Australian breeders,” McKeever said. “Having said that, I’m quite close to the whole operation and I know why the decision was taken and it was taken for all the correct reasons. It’s a very expensive economic decision for the Too Darn Hot team to take, but at the end of the day the horse’s health and welfare is the most important factor. 

“He looks like being an absolute breed-shaping stallion. It’s so unusual when you get a horse who can operate in two hemispheres and be very good in two hemispheres. Simon Marsh has just told me that Sam Bullard had called to say there’d been nearly 50 mares booked in [on southern hemisphere time covers]. That’s a testament to how popular he is in Australia.” 

Ritchie returns

Another southern hemisphere player who made their visit worthwhile was New Zealand-based trainer Shaune Ritchie, who went to 130,000gns with De Burgh Equine to secure the smart middle-distance runner Davideo.

Consigned by Imperium Sales on behalf of Al Shaqab Racing and Valmont, the four-year-old won three races for Ralph Beckett, the most recent of which came on his last start in a Kempton handicap over a mile and a half. That effort earned him an RPR of 103. 

Davideo, a 230,000gns yearling purchase by Alex Elliott, not only boasts performance but pedigree too as he is a Galileo half-brother to the Hong Kong Group 1 winners Glorious Forever and Time Warp. The trio were bred by Kirsten Rausing. 

Ritchie will be hoping to repeat the success he has enjoyed with his last Tattersalls purchase, as he secured New Zealand and Auckland Cup scorer Mahrajaan for 75,000gns at the 2022 Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale. 

Shaune Ritchie
Shaune Ritchie: buyer of the smart middle-distance runner DavideoCredit: Alisha Meeder

“He was probably my number one pick because he’s got that big frame to fill out,” said Ritchie. “With the English style of stayer, when you ask people if he’ll stay, they think you mean 4,000 metres! Back home we think a mile and a half and two miles. He looks like he goes on all types of going and he’s got the pedigree to back that up. If we can get him home and try and put him through the Cup class like we did with Mahrajaan then we’ll make our way to Australia with him.” 

Ritchie has won the New Zealand Oaks with Jennifer Eccles, Artistic and Keep The Peace, and also landed the New Zealand Derby with Military Move. He trains in Cambridge - “the Newmarket of New Zealand!” - where he said he hoped the environment would help Davideo thrive. 

“He’ll be on the next flight back,” he continued. “The advantage we’ve got with our set up at home is that every horse gets a quarter-acre paddock throughout the day. A horse with a big frame like him will really suit that style of training.” 

He added: “Mahrajaan has got a strong chance of being New Zealand stayer of the year next month, so off the back of that success we’re looking to do the same thing again. I bought him with 50 per cent sold and I’ve done the same with this horse here. It’s supply and demand. I can buy a nice yearling back in Australia and New Zealand and sometimes they’re hard to move, whereas if you buy a horse here and start mentioning the Cup races then everyone wants to get involved.” 

Big plans for Big Evs’ owners

Big Evs’ owners Paul and Rachael Teasdale are already preparing to get behind their Breeders’ Cup-winning star when he embarks on his stallion career in 2025, and the couple’s agent Conor Quirke duly went to 125,000gns for the Baroda Stud-consigned Georgeta.

The winning five-year-old is a Night Of Thunder half-sister to Listed scorer Gypsy Spirit and was offered in foal to rising star stallion Havana Grey. 

“She was bought for Big Evs’ owners with a view to next year,” said Quirke, who will oversee Georgeta’s breeding career from his Hunting Hill Stud in North Cork. “He’ll be retiring to stud next year and this filly fits the profile for what should suit him. Having a very attractive cover is a nice kicker too. A young mare with an attractive covering, it was somewhat of a no-brainer.” 

Although no details about Big Evs’ stud career have been revealed, Quirke said the owners were determined to get firmly behind the son of Blue Point, who has also won the Windsor Castle, Molecomb, Flying Childers and Westow Stakes. 

“The owners are very keen to support him in his next step,” Quirke continued. “This is their first mare and she’s an exciting addition. She’ll go back to Ireland and plans will be made, but all being well she’ll go and see Big Evs next year, wherever he ends up. 

“They’re very sentimental people so I’d be very surprised if they didn’t go to the track with whatever they breed. She was the one for this sale but I’d imagine we’ll keep our powder dry until the December Sales now.” 

Opulent refocus 

Another owner moving into the breeding business is Opulence Thoroughbreds, who went to 46,000gns for Liberty Breeze, a half-sister to connection’s smart sprinter Purosangue. 

The six-year-old brought not one but two eye-catching updates into Tuesday’s session, as Purosangue finished second in the Listed Coral Charge on Saturday, while another sibling, Tropical Storm, filled the same position behind Shareholder in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes. 

The daughter of Equiano won three races for Simon Whitaker and was offered in foal to Purosangue’s sire Aclaim. George Gill, the syndicate’s director, explained the team had brought in a change of policy that meant a greater emphasis on their breeding programme. 

“Obviously Opulence Thoroughbreds own Purosangue and our partner in that horse [Teme Valley Racing] owns Tropical Storm, who came second at Royal Ascot,” said Gill. “So it’s a family we know well, and we’re looking to expand our broodmare band at Opulence Thoroughbreds. It’s a good family with some good updates so she’s an exciting prospect. 

“She’s in foal to Aclaim but we’ll probably set our sights a bit higher next time, albeit Aclaim is a good sire and he’s done us very well. The plan is to take her to Galloway Stud in Woburn and see how the Aclaim does, then we’ll look to get her covered by a different stallion next year.” 

Opulence currently owns two broodmares in the Listed-winning Something Enticing, a 175,000gns purchase who delivered a New Bay colt earlier this year, and Marbling, a 270,000gns signing who produced a Lope De Vega filly. 

“It’s a long-term thing and it’s something slightly different, but it’s an exciting thing to do,” said Gill. “It’s where my interests lie and a lot of the clients have followed suit. We’ve changed our strategy as a syndicate as we’re now buying fillies that have residual value. In our game it’s all about keeping your money alive for the long term, so we’ve focussed on buying fillies with a good page. Then, if they’re moderate on the racecourse, they still have a future as a broodmare.” 

Asked how many horses Opulence Thoroughbreds have in training at present, Gill said: “We have close to 50 in training…too many!” 

The Tattersalls July Sale continues on Wednesday at 9.30am. 

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