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Top of the lots: find out who the ten priciest auction horses were since 2010

James Thomas charts the recent history of sales ring smash hits

A packed Fasig-Tipton sales ring looks on as Lady Aurelia sells for $7.5 million
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The emergence of a major new spending force, Coolmore's quest to find the best-credentialed mares for Galileo, and some exceptional breeding prospects coming under the hammer, all conspired to create some stunning sales ring moments in the last ten years. 

The following ten horses - all fillies and mares, coincidentally -
accounted for the ten biggest prices witnessed at public auction since the turn of the decade. 

Havre De Grace
Pedigree b m Saint Liam-Easter Bunnette (Carson City)
Sale Fasig-Tipton November Sale, 2012
Consignor Taylor Made Sales
Price $10 million
Buyer Whisper Hill Farm

As a three-time Grade 1 winner and Horse of the Year, Havre De Grace's appearance at public auction was billed as the chance of a lifetime, and it was Mandy Pope who seized the opportunity when an eye-popping bid of $10 million saw the daughter of Saint Liam added to her Whisper Hill Farm broodmare band.

Pope said of her eight-figure purchase: "You look at her and she is everything a racehorse could be; she did everything a racehorse could do, and she has a wonderful attitude."

Havre De Grace brings a bid of $10 million from Mandy Pope at Fasig-Tipton in 2012
Havre De Grace has produced three winners from as many runners, with Heavenly Grace, River Front and Graceful Princess all having scored. River Front remains in Whisper Hill's ownership, but only after a mix-up with the reserve price saw the colt bought back at $1.9m at Keeneland in 2016.

The dam also has a two-year-old Tapit colt named Marvelous Guy, who was sold to Mataichiro Yamamoto for $550,000 at Keeneland in 2018.

Havre De Grace remains the third-most expensive filly or mare sold at public auction, behind the $14m Better Than Honour and the $10.5m Playful Act.

Pedigree b/br m Medaglia D'Oro-Ivanavinalot (West Acre)
Sale Fasig-Tipton November Sale, 2017
Consignor Taylor Made Sales
Price $9.5m
Buyer Whisper Hill Farm

Rick Porter hit the jackpot when he sold his Horse of the Year Havre De Grace, and the high-rolling owner repeated the trick some five years later when he offered the nine-time Grade 1 heroine Songbird.

Just as had been the case with Havre De Grace, it was Pope who stepped up with the winning bid of $9.5m. When asked why she had gone to such stratospheric levels to secure Songbird, she simply replied: "Because she's awesome."

Songbird takes to the stage at Fasig-Tipton in 2017
Songbird was duly bred to Breeders' Cup Classic, Dubai World Cup, Pegasus World Cup and Travers Stakes hero Arrogate, and produced a filly on January 28 this year.

Royal Delta
Pedigree b/br m Empire Maker-Delta Princess (A.P. Indy)
Sale Keeneland November Sale in 2011
Consignor Chanteclair Farm
Price $8.5m
Buyer Besilu Stables

Royal Delta hit the market at the Keeneland November Sale just four days after she had landed her second Grade 1 in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, and she grabbed the headlines again when sold for an auction-topping $8.5m.

She was bought by Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stables, and the Florida-based healthcare entrepreneur campaigned his purchase to win two champion older female titles.

Having retired from racing with six Grade 1 wins to her name, Royal Delta was shipped to Ireland for a liaison with Galileo. However, she did not conceive in 2014 and aborted the fetus from the 2015 mating. On February 1, 2017, Royal Delta produced a Galileo filly, but tragically died due to complications from the foaling.

That filly, retained by Leon and named Delta's Royalty, made a taking winning debut for Roger Varian at Kempton earlier this month.

Pedigree b m Acclamation-Marlinka (Marju)
Sale Tattersalls December Mare Sale, 2017
Consignor Elite Racing Club from Heath House Stables
Price 6,000,000gns
Buyer MV Magnier

A sales ring showdown of epic proportions saw old rivals Coolmore and Godolphin go toe to toe when Marsha came on the market, and the result went the Irish firm's way when MV Magnier struck a European auction record bid of 6,000,000gns.

Marsha takes a turn in front of a packed Tattersalls auditorium
Her trainer, Sir Mark Prescott, was among the crowd in the packed Park Paddocks ring, and after the hammer came down he reflected: "It’s great for Elite Racing – we got 47 of them here on a bus and not many horses have that when they go to the ring."

The filly, who carried the Elite Racing Club's familiar white and black-spotted silks to victory in the Nunthorpe and Prix de l'Abbaye, visited Galileo in 2018 but failed to get in foal. She returned to the perennial champion sire again in 2019.

America's Joy
Pedigree b f American Pharoah-Leslie's Lady (Tricky Creek)
Sale Keeneland September Sale, 2019
Consignor Clarkland Farm
Price $8.2m
Buyer Whisper Hill Farm

When a daughter of blue hen Leslie's Lady - already dam of three elite winners, namely the champion Beholder, ace sire Into Mischief and Mendelssohn - was catalogued for the Keeneland September Yearling Sale this year, it's fair to say big things were expected.

However, even lofty expectations were surpassed when Pope made yet another headline acquisition to secure the American Pharoah filly at $8.2m. The blue-blooded youngster is the most expensive filly to change hands at Keeneland's flagship auction, and the fourth-highest priced yearling the company has ever sold. 

"Very tough battle, big battle," Pope declared afterwards. "I was persevering; Todd [Quast, Pope's adviser] was trying to hold my hand down. He was getting pretty adamant but I'm getting older, going through the final phases of my life. And this is what I want to do."

Recent reports suggest America's Joy is likely to prove more of a back-end juvenile. 

Pedigree b m Bernstein-Life Happened (Stravinsky)
Sale Fasig-Tipton November Sale, 2017
Consignor ELiTE Sales
Price $8m
Buyer MV Magnier

The 2017 edition of Fasig-Tipton's November Sale lived up to its billing as the 'night of the stars', as not only did Songbird fetch $9.5m, but ten lots later MV Magnier went to $8m to secure the six-time Group/Grade 1 winner Tepin.

Tepin in the Fasig-Tipton ring before being knocked down to MV Magnier for $8 million
The daughter of Bernstein had advertised her credentials to a European audience when she saw off Belardo to win the 2016 Queen Anne Stakes and, having produced a filly by Curlin in May 2018, her new owners shipped her to Ireland for a tryst with Galileo.

Tepin produced her second foal, a filly by the soon-to-be 11-time champion sire, on May 22.

Lady Aurelia
Pedigree b m Scat Daddy-D'Wildcat Speed (Forest Wildcat)
Sale Fasig-Tipton November Sale, 2018
Consignor Hill 'n' Dale Sales
Price $7.5m
Buyer Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings

One of the fastest fillies seen in recent years made an almighty impression when offered as a broodmare prospect at the conclusion of a racing career during which she crossed the Atlantic to plunder the King's Stand Stakes, Prix Morny and Queen Mary Stakes.

Almost every major player around would have welcomed the daughter of Scat Daddy into their broodmare band, but it was the filly's breeder and co-owner Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Thoroughbreds who proved most determined as she went to $7.5m to buy out partner Peter Leidel.

Lady Aurelia strikes a pose under the autumn leaves in Kentucky
Having signed the seven-figure docket, Banke said: "In the horse business, we're all about hope, we're all about the future, we're all about breeding future champions. If we can do that again [with Lady Aurelia's foals], it would be really awesome."

After much deliberation, Banke opted to send Lady Aurelia to another former Stonestreet Stables colour bearer in Curlin for her debut mating, with the resultant foal due in 2020.

Pedigree b m Montjeu-Prudenzia (Dansili)
Sale Goffs November Sale, 2013
Consignor The Castlebridge Consignment
Price €6m
Buyer Peter and Ross Doyle

What price a Classic winner? When Chicquita was offered just four months after her Irish Oaks victory, the answer was €6m - a record price for a thoroughbred at public auction in Ireland.

Offered as part of Australian owner-breeder Paul Makin's Paulyn Dispersal, the daughter of Montjeu was knocked down to Peter Doyle.

A packed Goffs auditorium looks on as Chicquita sells for €6 million
The agent was unable to reveal who he had been acting for on that historic night at Goffs, simply saying: "She’s been bought for a long standing and good association. She’s a lovely filly and we’re thrilled to get her. I’m sure there's a strong possibility that she could race again."

She did indeed race again, and for the all-conquering Aidan O'Brien-Coolmore axis. She was unable to add to her Classic success, but has got her breeding career off to a good start, with her first foal - Secret Thoughts, a daughter of War Front - a winner and Group 3-placed. She also has an American Pharoah filly who will turn two in 2020, and a daughter of Dubawi born in April 2019, after which she returned to Darley's flagship sire.

Al Naamah
Pedigree b m Galileo-Alluring Park (Green Desert)
Sale Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Sale, 2013
Consignor Lodge Park Stud
Price 5,000,000gns
Buyer Al Shaqab Racing

Al Shaqab Racing announced its emergence as a major force in European racing when securing the 2013 Book 1 sale-topper at 5,000,000gns. The daughter of all-conquering sire Galileo was offered the year after her full-sister Was, herself a 1,200,000gns purchase by Coolmore, had landed the Oaks.

Having signed on behalf of Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, Nicolas de Watrigant said: "How can you quantify that beauty and that quality? We didn't expect to have to go this far today, but she has everything and we didn’t want to miss her."

Al Naamah parades in front of a packed gangway at Tattersalls
Al Naamah briefly looked like she might prove up to justifying her lofty price-tag when she readily landed a conditions race at Chantilly on debut for Andre Fabre but she failed to add to her tally again, though she did gain black type when placed in two Group 3 events.

Since retiring from racing she has produced three foals for Al Shaqab. She has a two-year-old Siyouni filly named January, a yearling filly by Dubawi, and produced a colt by Shalaa in 2019.

Immortal Verse
Pedigree b m Pivotal-Side Of Paradise (Sadler's Wells)
Sale Tattersalls December Mares Sale, 2013
Consignor Mount Coote Stud
Price 4,700,000gns
Buyer BBA Ireland

Another memorable night at Tattersalls saw Kilfrush Stud's two-time Group 1 winner knocked down for a then-record price of 4,700,000gns to BBA Ireland's Adrian Nicoll, who described the sum as "probably top-whack".

The Coronation Stakes and Prix Jacques Le Marois heroine was purchased on behalf of a new partnership within Coolmore while carrying to Dansili. In January 2014, Immortal Verse produced a colt later named Literary Society.

Immortal Verse parades in front of auctioneer John O'Kelly before being sold to BBA Ireland for 4,700,000gns
However, the regally bred youngster failed to cut much ice for the Coolmore partners and Merriebelle Farm, and was later sold for just €1,500 at Arqana in July 2018.

Immortal Verse's second foal, the War Front colt Battle For Glory, fared better, although he has not been seen since making a winning debut for John Gosden at Newmarket in November 2018.

The mare also has a two-year-old gelding by War Front and produced a filly by Caravaggio earlier this year.

More to read: 

Henrietta Knight stuns Cheltenham as £450,000 buy gives new trainer dream start

Coolmore secure 2,100,000gns sale-topper but Mabs Cross fails to fire

Gordon Elliott lands showstopping bid of £330,000 to secure Cheltenham top lot

Rags-to-riches hero Summer Sands goes to Joseph O'Brien for 625,000gns

We didn't expect to have to go this far today, but she has everything and we didn’t want to miss her
E.W. Terms