Yearling trade through the roof on day one at Doncaster
Nancy Sexton sees a £270,000 Bated Breath colt top hectic start
And so it continues. The yearling sales season, either side of the Atlantic, has started with a generic surge; and the recent history of the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale had shown a sustained momentum of its own. Yesterday the two forces coincided to dramatic effect, as the quest for a new Barney Roy - or a new Harry Angel, or a new Rajasinghe - produced unprecedented gains on the first of the two flagship sessions at Doncaster.
By lunchtime one agent was already describing trade as "unbelievably strong". Last year’s sale, crowning five consecutive annual gains, had returned a record average of £44,078 and median of £34,000. At the halfway stage, the average had catapulted 23 per cent to £53,490, and the median was also in uncharted territory at £37,000 (a six per cent gain). The clearance rate was remarkably strong, 199 sold from 219 offered for a 22 per cent gain in aggregate at £10,644,500.
And if the supporting cast were familiar - Kodiac and Dark Angel filling the next steps on the podium - then the spiralling figures were matched by the reputation of a young sire on the rise.
For Joe Foley was forced to the day’s top price at £270,000 for a Bated Breath colt, bred by James Hanly of Ballyhimikin Stud out of the winning Night Shift mare Night Sphere. She is already dam of four winners and a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Missit.
"Most of the foals out of the mare have been rated between 95 and 100," said Hanly. "She's a beautiful mare and this colt has always been exceptional. Nick Nugent saw him in the field earlier in the year and liked him very much. He said: 'Please bring him to this sale.' So we gave it a shot."
The colt is set to carry the colours of Steve Parkin's Clipper Logistics. "Steve and I saw him on Sunday morning and thought he was a special colt," said Foley. "He's from a good farm and is by an emerging sire."
Those that canned Bated Breath last winter are now having to eat their words: the son of Dansili is in the midst of a strong year with 41 winners across Europe to his credit, among them the high-class two-year-olds Beckford and Landshark. "I love Bated Breath," said Hanly. "I've always liked him and have always believed."
Kodiac pair score highly
A colt by Kodiac, one of the most expensive pinhooks of the sale at 75,000gns, matched his billing by selling for £260,000 to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The colt was bought at Tattersalls last autumn by JR Bloodstock and sold here through Grove Stud. He is the first foal out of a placed Red Rocks half-sister to the Group 3-placed Dandy Boy, from the further family of Quiet American.
"I thought he was the best horse at the sale," said Mark Richards, as he signed the docket. "He's a very athletic, nicely put together individual. Kodiac hasn't had many runners in Hong Kong but the ones we've bought previously have won, and they went down pretty well with the trainers. I liked him from the moment I saw him, it was a bit of a no-brainer really. He was the one we really wanted so we were prepared to push the boat out a little."
His sale followed another significant purchase by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in an Equiano colt sold by Taroka Stud for £120,000. This was another bold pinhook, having been bought by Meridian International for 68,000gns as a foal.
Kodiac also scored highly through a £180,000 half-sister to the talented two-year-old Darkanna, who was purchased here for £205,000 last year by Scunthorpe United FC chairman Peter Swann of the Cool Silk Partnership, along with Matt Coleman. In also securing this filly, Swann was going back to familiar territory in more ways than one: Cool Silk campaigned the dam, Group 2-placed Jadanna, before her private sale to Noel O'Callaghan's Mountarmstrong Stud.
"It's in the family," said Swann, fresh from celebrating Sands Of Mali's win in the Gimcrack Stakes. "We had Jadanna and obviously we own Darkanna. She wasn't beaten far in the Queen Mary but has improved again on wet ground. We took her to France for the Prix de Cabourg and she ran very well to be second to Tantheem.
"She has two options - there's another Group 3 in France or we could go for the sales race back here at Doncaster although she's high in the weights there. It depends on the ground because she picks up really well when there's a bit of cut.
"This filly is a little bigger than the family at this stage. She's a little stronger. She'll go to Richard Fahey."
Swann also had news of his Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands Of Mali. "He'll go for the Middle Park," he said. "That is shaping up to be a cracking race. It was amazing on Saturday, just wonderful to win the Gimcrack. We could have pushed him to Royal Ascot but we've been patient with him and we're now seeing the rewards."
Dark Angel another in usual demand
For Dark Angel, who accounted for six of the top ten lots at last year’s sale, this was also another fertile day. Ed Sackville, signing on behalf of MV Magnier, paid £250,000 for a brother to the smart juvenile Maggies Angel, homebred by Guy O'Callaghan's Grangemore Stud. They are respectively the first two foals out of Last Bid, a three-time winning two-year-old who ran second in the Roses Stakes.
"I bought the mare here in the November Sale for £26,000 through Bobby O'Ryan when she was a two-year-old," said O'Callaghan. "She was a very quick two-year-old and it's such a fast family. I'm very lucky that Maggies Angel is with Richard Fahey - he's done a great job with her. With the sire and the family, this colt was made for this sale."
Last Bid has a Dark Angel colt foal to come and is in foal to Gutaifan.
Shadwell have had stacks of success with Dark Angel over the years - think Estidkhaar, Heeraat and Alhebayeb - and Angus Gold is hoping that a £240,000 colt from Glenvale Stud might follow suit. A withdrawal from last year's Tattersalls December Sale, he is a half-brother to triple winner Al Rayyan and out of an unraced daughter of Listed winner Cheyenne Dream, in turn the dam of Listed winner Indian Choice. Further back, it is the good Juddmonte family of Interval.
"He's a powerful horse - quality speed - who looks to have a good mind," said Gold. "We've had a bit of luck with the sire and needless to say, a number of the training fraternity were on him. It'll be Sheikh Hamdan's decision as to where he is trained."
The session saw a series of impressive pinhooks, including a son of Teofilo sold out of Luke Barry's Manister House Stud for £200,000 to Anthony Stroud, on behalf of Godolphin. The colt, out of a winning Invincible Spirit half-sister to Group 2 winner Amralah (also by Teofilo), was bought for €64,000 by Cannons Wood at last year's Goffs November Sale.
"He was very popular here from the start," said Barry. "He vetted well and Teofilo is having a very good season, so we went in there hopeful."
Other notable pinhooks included Cooneen Stud's Swiss Spirit colt, who was bought through Richard Knight as a foal for 28,000gns and sold here to Shadwellfor £120,000. Of course, Swiss Spirit has made a good start to his stud career in the months since he last went to auction and this colt hails from a quick Whitsbury Manor Stud family that throws winners year in, year out. He is the second foal out of the winning two-year-old Hot Secret, a half-sister to Mill Reef Stakes winner Temple Meads.
Ballyhane Stud's Dandy Man colt, bought for €13,000 last November, meanwhile sold for £110,000. He is the first foal out of an Oasis Dream daughter of Radley Stakes winner Short Dance.
Blandford Bloodstock went to £92,000 for West Moor Stud's War Command filly, a mere €18,500 pinhook out of last year's Goffs November Sale by Ebor Bloodstock. She is out of dual winner Foreplay whose five winners include Molecomb Stakes runner-up Anticipated.
And a Slade Power half-brother to Acomb Stakes runner-up Fort Bastion was bought for £75,000 by Al Donald, standing with Charlie Hills - having been acquired by FAH Bloodstock for 30,000gns as a foal.
An Elusive City colt bought back for just 7,000gns as a foal, meanwhile, sold out of the Trickledown Stud draft for £70,000 to Peter and Ross Doyle.
New ground for China Horse Club
Mick Flanagan's first ever purchase here on account of the China Horse Club was a notable one, the agent outbidding Anthony Stroud among others at £190,000 for a son of Iffraaj bred by Ed's Stud and sold by Longview Stud.
The colt is bred to be a real two-year-old as the first foal out of Empress Stakes winner Fig Roll, in turn a daughter of St Hugh's Stakes winner Cake, who had the distinction of being Acclamation's first ever winner.
"This is the first time that the China Horse Club has bought here," said Mick Flanagan. "We're delighted to be here. We're probably won't buy a lot in Europe this year but we thought that if we targeted all the premier sales and picked up one or two from each, we'd be in good shape this time next year.
"This colt is the first foal out of a good mare. And he's by a good sire who seems to have a good season every year."
High class Highclere
John Warren found an early gem for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, going to £190,000 for an Oasis Dream colt he would know well as the first lot through from Highclere Stud - sold on behalf of his breeders Gary and Lesley Middlebrook.
This has been an excellent family for the Middlebrooks, who raced the colt's granddam, Flying Childers Stakes winner Imperial Bailiwick, and went on to breed ten winners out of the mare, including Nunthorpe Stakes hero Reverence. This particular colt is the second foal out of her winning daughter Eminently.
"He's got a cracking pedigree, he's by a top sire and out of a mare by a top broodmare sire," said Warren. "With the syndicates we're looking for these important horses that can make it as stallion prospects down the line, potentially. With a horse like this, precocious, fast, he ticks a lot of boxes so we're happy to have a real good rattle at buying him for the syndicates. He'll go to one of our existing trainers."
Highclere Stud were also involved with another very good page in an Acclamation colt, this time homebred, who sold to Ed Dunlop for £120,000. A grandson of the Niarchos family’s champion juvenile Denebola, he is out of a mare purchased by Highclere Stud for 95,000gns - when carrying this colt - at Tattersalls in February 2016. This colt is a half-brother to four-time winner Aussie Rocks and out of the unraced High Luminosity. In turn, she is a half-super to the dam of Senga and out of Denebola, a daughter of another champion 2yo in Coup De Genie, a half-sister to Machiavellian.
"He's by a very good stallion," said Dunlop, "and from a very good farm. He's been bought for an existing client."
Young guns flying high
Dark Angel's rookie son Heeraat had a headline colt sold for £100,000 to Armando Duarte, a strong gain on his 38,000gns foal tag to vendor Yeomanstown Stud. He is a half-brother to two winners and out of two-time winner Piranha, a quick filly from the further family of Grade 1 winner Subtle Power.
"They're good types," said Richard Kent, who part bred the colt with Robert Percival and stands Heeraat himself. "They're genuine, workmanlike horses - good movers. They have good temperaments as well. There are few coming up tomorrow, it will be interesting to see how they go."
Another to put a young sire’s name in lights was a really smart Xtension colt, bred by Rathbarry Stud and sold by Whatton Manor Stud, sold for £115,000 to Al Donald as the stallion's former trainer Clive Cox looked on.
The colt is one of just 24 yearlings on the ground by Xtension, who won the Vintage Stakes at two and two renewals of the BMW Champions' Mile in Hong Kong. The son of Xaar covered just ten mares last year and stood the past season for €4,000.
The sole Frankel on offer initially failed to sell at £160,000. But the filly - the first foal out of three-time Summer Stakes winner Ladies Are Forever, a half-sister to popular sprinter Hoof It - later changed hands privately, secured by Dermot Farrington for £180,000. It was Farrington who secured one of the stars of Frankel’s first crop, Eminent, for a bargain 150,000gns.
The sale continues today at 10 a.m.