Solid foundations laid as yearling sale season rolls into Ascot
Session-topping colt destined for yard of leading jumps trainer Paul Nicholls
The bloodstock fraternity can be understandably hesitant when it comes to stepping into unknown territory, but at the conclusion of the first yearling sale to be staged at Ascot on Tuesday, the Tattersalls Ireland team will be buoyed by the direction in which their venue is heading.
Despite competing with a busy day of domestic racing, not to mention the yearling trade taking place on the other side of the Atlantic, the sale drew a plethora of familiar faces, and duly returned a solid set of figures for the level.
In total 85 of the 114 offered lots sold (75 per cent) for turnover of £787,500, an average of £9,265 and a median of £7,000.
"We are delighted with the results from our first yearling sale at Ascot," said Tattersalls Ireland director Richard Pugh. "The support from clients, trainers and agents ensured a real buzz around the sales arena throughout Monday's viewing day and the sale today.
"Today's sale gives us the foundation to build on in 2018. Ascot Sales are gaining the industry's confidence as a venue for sourcing reputable Flat performers."
Nicholls flat out
Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls may be planning on keeping his burgeoning string of Flat horses to a small scale, but one of the yearlings destined for Ditcheat made a sizeable impact in the Ascot sales ring, as the trainer's daughter Megan and agent Tom Malone secured the Sepoy colt from Houghton Bloodstock for the sale-topping sum of £47,000.
"He's a lovely horse, now Megan has to pull her finger out and make sure these horses win!" said Malone with tongue firmly in cheek. "I like the sire and he's got a good dam, so he's got lots going for him."
The colt, bred by Theobalds Stud, is the fourth foal out of the Listed-placed Act One mare Anosti, whose two-year-old Helmet filly, Tarnhelm, had been second on debut and a close-up fourth since the publication of the Ascot catalogue.
"These are the first horses we've bought, it's exciting, but we're not going to go mad," said Megan Nicholls of the new venture. "Tom's been really helpful and has taught me a lot over the last few weeks. I've been floating around and riding out up north recently, but I'll be back down at Dad's in November to concentrate on the yearlings full-time.
"This could be a really good project for me and should help me with my riding. If we get a couple of nice ones and the owners are happy to let me ride them then great. If not it's understandable, and I'm just looking forward to being part of the team that gets them ready to run."Mayson out of the Lucky Story mare La Fortunata, a five-time winner whose family traces back to the 1996 Derby winner Shaamit.
"A couple of the horses we buy will hopefully be dual purpose performers further down the line," Malone said of the types he aims to source for Nicholls. "It's getting increasingly hard to buy the three-year-olds we need to go jumping. There's a horse I bought that won a staying handicap at Haydock on Saturday called Taxmeifyoucan.
"I bought him as yearling for 26 grand with dual purpose in mind. He's now a 90-rated three-year-old and a winner over hurdles already - he's worth a quarter of a million. Though we'd like to have horses that are capable of winning as two-year-olds as well."
Keen on Clodovil
Gill Richardson had the final say on the session's second-top lot, having gone to £36,000 for a Clodovil colt bred and consigned by Chris Wright's Stratford Place Stud.
"He goes to Mick Channon," said Richardson after seeing off a host of interested parties. "Mick had seen him at Chris Wright's stud and liked him, Jack [Channon] and I loved him. Mick has been really lucky with Clodovil, and I love the sire too. He's been bought on spec."
The athletic grey is out of the Fairy King mare Shemissa, which makes him a half-brother to six winners, including the US Listed scorer Shediak, while Grade 1 Chilean Derby winner Full Of Luck appears further down the page.
"Tattersalls suggested we brought him here and we thought 'why not?'," Wright said. "It's a decision we made in June and he's really developed since then. He's a smart horse and we thought he'd stand out here."
Better late than never
Ross Doyle left it late in the day to enter the fray, but made his visit to Ascot worthwhile as he walked away with three lots, all secured within minutes of one another, for a total spend of £71,000.
The trio is comprised of a Dandy Man filly from Llety Farms who fetched £24,000, a Swiss Spirit filly from the family of Nathra consigned by Oakshott Bloodstock who brought the same price, and a colt from the second crop of Cityscape whose family traces back to Luso and Warrsan from Minster Stud who fetched £23,000.
Few of the trainers present at Ascot have enjoyed as fruitful a Flat campaign as Eve Johnson Houghton has. However, the master of Woodway was looking ahead to the 2018 season on Tuesday as she signed for a daughter of Mastercraftsman from Glidawn Stud at £22,000.
"She's going to take a bit of time, but she's got a nice pedigree that's quite current and I think she's a nice type so she should do a job," said Johnson Houghton.
The filly is out of the Red Ransom mare Rivara, a sibling to five stakes winners from the family of Barathea.
Matt Coleman was another agent to make his presence felt as he secured a filly from the first crop of Bucklands Farm and Stud resident Coach House for £21,000.
The filly had been pinhooked by Federico Barberini for a mere 3,000gns prior to her three-parts brother De Bruyne Horse proving himself a smart juvenile.
"I've bought her to go breezing," Coleman said of the Jamie Railton-consigned filly. "She was bought very cheaply as a foal but obviously since then De Bruyne Horse has popped up, and Get Knotted under the second dam is also a good horse.
"Showcasing [sire of De Bruyne Horse] is by Oasis Dream and so is Coach House, so they're very closely related. She looks a racy filly and she'll be consigned by Tally-Ho Stud at next year's breeze-ups."
As well as the Listed-winning De Bruyne Horse, the filly shares her pedigree with names such as Group 1 winners Pivotal and Araafa.
Bell's minor miracle
Michael Bell put in an appearance on the sales ground, and he ensured he did not leave empty-handed having secured an Intikhab colt, the first lot through the ring to sell, for £11,000 from the Swynford Paddocks Stud draft.
"I trained the dam for Highclere and we thought she was a Group filly," Bell said after signing for the fourth foal out of the English Channel mare Jessica Ennis, whose family boasts the likes of Grade 1 winners Tactical Cat and Skip Trial.
"Unfortunately the day before she was due to run she got loose in the stalls with Hayley Turner and had a very bad accident and so nearly lost her life. She galloped home and went straight into a car and nearly killed the driver - how she survived is a minor miracle.
"We really thought she was above average though, and I've been very lucky with Intikhab having trained Red Evie and Hoh Mike. He can certainly get you a good one."
The March-born colt, a half-brother to two winners from as many runners out of the dam, had been bought by Phil Cunningham's Rebel Racing for 14,000gns from the Tattersalls December Foal Sale.