Spring is in the air as stores and point-to-point gems roll into Doncaster
The three days of selling kick off on Tuesday
The great and the good of the National Hunt world converged in a sun-baked Doncaster on Monday as inspections got underway for the Goffs UK Spring Store Sale and the following Spring Horses-in-Training and Point-to-Point Sale.
A total of 269 stores have been catalogued, including strong representations for leading stallions such as Kayf Tara, Midnight Legend and Presenting.
There are also some exciting French imports, including a solitary lot by the late Saddler Maker, the sire of high-class talents such as Brisotal De Mai, Apple's Jade and Alpha Des Obeaux, who will be offered by Kieran Lennon's Springhill Stud.
"I bought him privately out of a field in France when he was a yearling," said Lennon when asked how he came to consign one of only 19 colts/geldings from Saddler Maker's three-year-old crop.
"A friend of mine told me that there were two yearlings well worth looking at in France so I went down and we did the deal. We saw him galloping around the field and he's a real athlete. He's such a striking, good-looking horse, and Saddler Maker is what everybody wants.
"He's been the most straightforward horse I've ever had to prep. He has a grand temperament, an exceptional trot - he just glides along, he's just so easy to do anything with."
With those connected to some of Saddler Maker's brightest and best performers, such as Anthony Bromley, Eddie O'Leary and Charlie Swan, on the ground in Doncaster it seems entirely likely that Lennon's Saddler Maker, already named Favori De Champdou, will have made his way onto some significant shortlists.
"When you put your money down and buy the likes of him, you're hoping that he might fit into the category of what the top buyers want," said Lennon. "They won't all work out of course, but it's just nice when you find one occasionally."
There are also 455 lots catalogued across the Spring Horses-in-Training and Point-to-Point Sale, and among the biggest talking horses of the two-day auction is Ask For Glory, who put up a display of bold jumping and relentless galloping when winning a Bartlemy four-year-old maiden by ten lengths earlier in the month.
The son of the upwardly mobile but ill-fated Fame And Glory will be offered by Donal Coffey's Gurtacrue Stables, whose past graduates include the likes of Give Me A Copper, Presenting Copper and Cloudy Copper.
"He's always shown us that he's a nice horse," said Coffey's son Seamus. "He's been a lovely horse to train, very straightforward, and he does everything so easily. We were expecting him to win but there were 14 horses in there, including a few trained by the Doyles, so you never know when you're taking them on."
Coffey's strike rate for the point-to-point season stands at 100 per cent, with Ask For Glory the only horse he trained out of Gurtacrue Stables in Midleton, County Cork during the 2017/18 campaign.
"We never sell our horses when they're very young, we always try to win a point-to-point or bumper with them first," he continued. "We've had a lot of interest in him already - there were people looking at him as soon as he crossed the line.
"He's a lovely big, rangy horse and I'd expect him to keep improving as he gets older."
Should Ask For Glory live up to the pre-sale hype when coming under the hammer, the success would be all the sweeter for the Coffeys, as Donal bred Ask For Glory and also has his a yearling full-sister at home on the farm. The dam, the Pistolet Bleu mare Ask Helen, was scanned in foal to Rule Of Law on Monday morning.
The Goffs UK Spring National Hunt Sale has seen its roll of honour gain some notable additions in recent months, with two of last year's graduates going on to land Cheltenham Festival Grade 1s.
Kilbricken Storm went on to win Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, having been picked up by Colin Tizzard for just £22,000 back in 2017, while Summerville Boy gained a memorable victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle having been acquired by owner Roger Brookhouse for £130,000 at the same auction.
This year's renewal of the Spring Sale begins on Tuesday at 10am, with the two-day Horses-in-Training and Point-to-Point Sale beginning on Wednesday at 11am and 10am on Thursday.