‘My Hero Of The Year’

Danny O’Donovan described first-season sire King Of Change as his ‘hero of the year’ after the young consignor topped the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale at 180,000gns with a filly by the Starfield Stud-based stallion. 

King Of Change may have emerged as something of the surprise package from the breeze-up circuit so far but O’Donovan has never been afraid to push his chest out when it comes to the capabilities of the Group 1-winning miler and was duly rewarded when Oliver St Lawrence signed for the filly who posted one of the fastest breezes in the sale on behalf of trainer Bryan Smart. 

O’Donovan commented, “It’s incredible, really. I thought that she was going to make about 120,000gns or 130,000gns but 180,000gns in such a tricky market, it was just incredible. King Of Change has just been fantastic to me all year–that’s three of them now that I have got life-changing money out of. Even for Adam (Potts, partner) and the other shareholders, it will put things on the up for us.”

He added, “The pressure is off completely. It’s been off since Doncaster, really (where O’Donovan sold two fillies for a combined 570,000gns). Loads of vendors and other friends of mine are finding it very tough. I just said to them that the wheel is always turning and next year it could be me who is struggling. I am just grateful that everything is coming together for me this year. King Of Change has been my hero of the year.”

Thursday’s sale meant that O’Donovan has now cleared over half a million on three fillies by King Of Change these past few weeks. What’s even more impressive is that those fillies were sourced for just 67,000gns combined. 

His first King Of Change filly, from the family of Sole Power (GB), was sold at the Craven Sale for 80,000gns while Alex Elliott went to £270,000 on behalf of Amo Racing to secure the second at Doncaster last week. 

Lot 322 was sourced for just £20,000 at the Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale last year, and according to the consignor, probably would have been back there last week had he not had a job on his hands splitting up the stock by the sire. However, all’s well that ends well. 

“King Of Change wouldn’t have been on many people’s radars (at the yearling sales).” O’Donovan said. “He was a very good racehorse himself and, as first-season sires go, we liked his stock and knew that they would be affordable to buy. This filly was 20 grand at Doncaster and has just thrived the whole way through-she has furnished into a really nice filly.”

He added, “I buy the physique. Me and Adam work hard going around the sales and buy the physique over the pedigree. We just liked all the King Of Changes we saw. There was nearly a fourth! We underbid a fourth. Even seven or eight weeks ago, we started stepping all the horses up in their work and I text Micheál Orlandi saying ‘this stallion is going to come up with a good one’ because, in their very first bit of work, they showed a bit of class. Hopefully they can all go on and do a bit on the track. I do believe that the stallion will come up with a good one.”

They say one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and in the case of King Of Change, it wasn’t just O’Donovan who enjoyed some luck with the new sire. 

Deep into the Thursday session, another filly by the stallion was knocked down to Alex Elliott on behalf of Amo Racing from 120,000gns. She was consigned by Anderson Bloodstock, which is the banner from which debut consignor Anderson Correa was operating under.

He said, “This is the first year we have done this by ourselves. We are delighted. I have so many people to thank including Robson Aguiar, Roger O’Callaghan and my brother, who has helped so much. I am delighted that she has been bought by such a good judge.”

“Challenges In The Current Marketplace”

The John Dance dispersal provided something of an anomaly to this year’s horses-in-training session of the Guineas Sale. The turnover almost doubled from 1,525,000gns last year to 3,015,500 this week. Not only that, but the clearance rate was up 7% to 93% while the average climbed 27% to 22,845gns and the median by 25% to 15,000gns. 

However, the poor clearance rate in the breeze-up section of the sale hardly came as a bolt from the blue, and followed on from similar trends posted in the breeze-up sales at Doncaster and in the Craven where the middle market was also tricky. 

The clearance rate finished up at just 72%, which was down a whopping 14% on last year. The average dropped 1% to 41,894gns while the median fell 10% to 27,000gns and the aggregate fell by 17% to 4,943,500gns.

Reflecting on the action over the past two days, Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony commented, “Demand in the Horses-In-Training section of the 2024 Tattersalls Guineas Sale has without doubt exceeded expectations, with domestic British and Irish buyers competing strongly with their international counterparts to produce record-breaking trade comfortably surpassing the previous records for turnover, average and median as well as the number of lots selling for 100,000 gns or more. 

“The clearance rate for the horses-in-training was a remarkable 94%, yet again demonstrating the sustained global appetite for British and Irish horses-in-training sold at Tattersalls, and the horses belonging to Coverdale Stud and Titanium Racing were particularly sought after with buyers from throughout Europe, the Gulf region and Australia all making their presence felt.”

He added, “Nevertheless, the strong and diverse demand that produced the wide margin record-breaking Guineas Horses-In-Training Sale was not matched in the Breeze-Up section of the sale and while the combined turnover for the Breeze-Up and Horses-In-Training is a record, and the Breeze-Up average and median prices have held up well in relation to last year’s record-breaking sale, the clearance rate has been well below par.

“In the months leading up to both the Tattersalls Craven and Guineas Breeze-Up Sales, members of the Tattersalls team have made promotional visits to a host of international markets including America, Australia, Bahrain, Dubai, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden and the two sales continue to attract considerable numbers of overseas buyers, but as has been noted at the earlier Breeze-Up Sales, there is a selectivity to the market which has been reflected in clearance rates that have not matched the impressive levels achieved last year. 

“It is clear that there are challenges in the current marketplace, challenges which reflect wider economic realities, but it should also be recognised that competition for quality British and Irish bloodstock remains robust and diverse. The Breeze-Up consignors have as ever done an outstanding job, there have been some spectacular pinhooking successes today and there is no doubt that this year’s renewal of the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale will further enhance the sale’s reputation as a consistent source of Group 1 horses.”

Murphy ‘Rides Out The Storm’ With Hello Youmzain Colt

Mick Murphy spoke with a heavy helping of perspective after selling his 35,000gns Hello Youmzain (Fr) yearling purchase for 150,000gns to Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock. Like many consignors, Murphy admitted to finding the going tough at the Craven and Doncaster breeze-up sales, and explained that, despite selling one of the day’s top lots at Park Paddocks, next week’s trade at Arqana will be pivotal to how his year pans out on the whole.

The selling of the Hello Youmzain colt provided something of a fillup for the Longways Stables operator amidst a backdrop of disappointing results since the beginning of the breeze-up season. 

Murphy said, “The Hello Youmzain was popular here and was always a very fast horse at home. I think the sire has a very good chance. He had six vets and all of the top men were on him. I was more hopeful than confident and the market is in a very tricky place at the moment.”

He added on the breeze-up year thus far, “(It’s been) very tough. We had a tough Craven and a tough Donny. It is nice to get one of them over the line. There is a lot going on in the world at the moment and, when we are in our own bubble, I suppose we don’t think about it. When you step outside the bubble, you realise the world is not in a great place.”

Some would baulk at some of the figures posted at Tattersalls on Thursday but, according to Murphy, he sees no other option but to batten down the hatches and weather the storm.

“It’s what we do,” he said. “We’ve no other choice. The game has been very good to us for the past 10 years so we just have to ride out the storm this season. 

“It’s all or nothing. It’s gone very much back to the clock. If you clock well you have a very good chance of selling well. The next thing after that is vetting well and good physiques. It can be very lonely when you’re not on the lists. There will probably be a knock-on effect to the yearling market and the foal market.”

Asked if there was added pressure rolling onto Arqana, he replied, “Oh yes. We have 13 horses going to France and I think we have a very good draft-they might look a bit expensive at the moment as we were buying them when the market was a bit stronger. We just have to wait and see.”

An up and down year can be hard enough to stomach at the best of times but Murphy has been without his wife Sarah at the breeze-up sales this season. Sarah, who was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year, is understood to be recovering well, with Murphy explaining that he hopes to have his right-hand woman on side at Arqana next week. 

He said, “We’re looking forward to it and I’m hoping that Sarah will make an appearance. She finished her treatment three weeks ago. It’s been tough. She had surgery followed by chemotherapy so it’s been a rough few months. She’s still not a confirmed runner but her bags went on the lorry this evening along with the horses so hopefully she makes it.”

The Hello Youmzain colt was bought by Brown on behalf of Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum and will go into training with trainer James Tate.

The agent joked afterwards, “I seem to be cornering the market on the Hello Youmzains! I think that is the third one (I have bought) this breeze-up season. I guess I like his stock! I bought him on behalf of Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum, who was particularly keen on the horse from the start. 

Asked if he thought Hello Youmzain’s stock were of a similar type, Brown responded, “They have got great muscle and balance. They’ve got a bit of class and a bit of style about them. To be honest with you, Hello Youmzain wasn’t really on my radar at all, but he has stepped up to obviously be very much on my radar.”

Brown also struck for a Mehmas (Ire) colt from Yeomanstown Stud for the same figure earlier in the day.

On lot 252, who was bang up there on the times sheet, Brown commented, “He has been bought for Sheikh Rashid and he goes to Richard Fahey. Obviously (we have) been very successful for Sheikh Rashid-Pretty Crystal (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), the filly supplemented for the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, is out of a breeze-up filly whom we purchased, so it is all coming around with progeny..”

He added, “This horse did a very good breeze. He was very green and came across the track with his ears pricked. Watching it live I loved it, but he is going to have to sharpen his act up a bit as he was fairly babyish. I love the stallion-he is a very serious sire of two-year-olds. This horse looks a real two-year-old and I thought he has the sire’s best attributes.”

Lucky Or Good? Lackendarra’s Eddie Linehen Is Just Good

Eddie Linehan was another consignor left thanking his lucky stars after selling a Mehmas (Ire) colt to Billy Jackson-Stops on behalf of Opulence Thoroughbreds for 160,000gns. 

The truth is that, clearing 347,000gns on the four horses he brought to the sale in what is becoming an increasingly tricky market to navigate represents an above average performance that even the most modest consignor can’t put down to luck. 

Linehan said, “The good ones are always easy to sell. He stood out all along for us. The day we bought him we thought we’d got a bit of value. We have been lucky with Mehmas before and we are delighted.”

He added, “We brought four to the sale and sold all four. They have all sold for a bit more than expected so we are delighted. We’ve been lucky but we had a nice bunch here.”

More Good Fortune At The Guineas Sale For Farrell

Archie Watson said he is harbouring dreams of Royal Ascot for the Masar (Ire) colt consigned by Cormac Farrell’s CF Bloodstock. The colt is on his way to the Lambourn-based handler after Middleham Park Racing acquired one of the takeaways from the breeze for 130,000gns through Tom Biggs of Blandford Bloodstock. 

When you are by a Derby winner and hail from a stoutly-bred family, there is never going to be a huge expectation when it comes to clocking well, but the Masar colt featured among the top 10 in all of the unofficial times sheets that were circulated following the breeze. 

Lot 248 was purchased by Luke Lillingston as a foal for 36,000gns and, after failing to sell for 45,000gns at Book 1 last year, was sent to Farrell to breeze. It proved an inspired decision with Watson revealing that he hopes the colt could make up into a Chesham horse. 

“He is the sort of horse we love to buy,” Watson said. “He did a very good breeze for a horse of his type-he is certainly a seven furlong/miler type but his times and what he did stood up against sprinter-type horses. We had to stretch a bit to get him.”

Watson added, “He has got a chance of being a Chesham horse. We’ll get him home and see how he fits in with the others. If he could be Royal Ascot sort then we will look at that.”

For Farrell, who is consigning from Copper Beech Stables for the first time this year, it represented another profitable trip to the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale after the handler sold the high-class Bracken’s Laugh for 200,000gns here 12 months ago.

“It’s a great result,” Farrell mused afterwards. “He breezed well, pulled out well and showed well. He has a big, long stride–he’s a staying horse who clocked well so he has a big future. Fair play to Middleham, Archie Watson and Tom Biggs for stepping up and buying him. It’s a great price to get and hopefully he’s very lucky for them.”

Speaking of big futures, Farrell’s graduate Dancing City kick-started an excellent 24 hours for the consignor when notching his third Grade 1 novice hurdle of the season for Willie Mullins at the Punchestown festival on Wednesday.

Farrell reflected, “That was amazing. He’s a very exciting horse and I was actually speaking with Willie this morning. They are delighted with the horse and are planning to campaign him over fences next season.”

Golden Touch

Lot 341

Colt by Amaron (GB) out of Noble Lady (Sholokhov {Ire})

Already named Nobler (Ger), this colt didn’t scream breezer on paper, but credit where credit is due, Roderic Kavanagh has come up trumps with another one here. Bought for just €26,000 at the Baden-Baden September Yearling Sale, the colt posted an eye-catching breeze on Tuesday and wasn’t missed when selling to Stuart Boman of Blandford Bloodstock on behalf of Go Racing for 120,000gns. . 

Dance Dispersal Generates 1.7 Million Gns

The horses-in-training section of the Guineas Sale provided a fascinating subplot to the action at Park Paddocks this week, with the John Dance dispersal bringing in over 1.7 million gns alone.

Over 50 horses connected with the former leading owner were offered under the hammer through The Castlebridge Consignment, and in the end it was well-bred fillies by Kingman (GB) and No Nay Never who led the way at 130,000gns apiece. 

After agents Alex Elliott and Billy Jackson-Stops teamed up to pay that exact sum for the Kingman half-sister to a stakes performer late on Wednesday evening, it was left to trainer Mick Appleby and his owner Jeremy Young to do something similar for the No Nay Never on Thursday morning. 

“We’ll probably put her into training and see how she goes,” Appleby said from his perch at the top of the Gods. “If we don’t think she’s going to be top-class, then we’ll probably just breed from her. She’s a nice filly, though, and the owners will breed from her eventually either way.”

Young is a long-standing owner with Appleby but is somewhat new to the breeding game. After underbidding the top lot on Wednesday, he was determined not to leave the No Nay Never filly behind. 

Out of the winning Galileo (Ire) mare Park Bloom (Ire), who herself is a daughter of the Listed-placed and dam of the Oaks and Pretty Polly S. winner Concert Hall (Ire), Alluring Park (Ire) (Green Desert), lot 168 boasts a deep pedigree. Indeed, Young may have gotten a bit of value with the filly, who cost 375,000gns at Book 1 here in October 2022. 

And that was very much the theme of the Dance dispersal; horses being sold for a fraction of what they had fetched in the ring previously. 

That couldn’t have been further exemplified by lot 169, a colt by Dubawi (Ire) who is already named Twisting Physics (GB), selling for 100,000gns to Fitri Hay. Remarkably, the colt was knocked down to Dance’s Manor House Farm for 1 million gns at Book 1 in 2022. 

Alex Cole commented, “Obviously Dubawi works well in Dubai so, if all else fails, we could go there. He has been bought for Mrs (Fitri) Hay.”

Asked if he knew much about the unraced colt, Cole replied, “Absolutely nothing–the same as the groom leading it up! We got a million-pound yearling for a hundred grand.”

The Kavanaghs of Kildaragh Stud know value when they see it and also swooped for a filly they know better than most for 72,000gns. Having sold lot 150, a daughter of Le Havre (Ire) named Fleeting Moment (Ire) for 190,000gns at Book 1 two years ago, the Kavanaghs effectively got a free horse from the transaction. 

Roderic Kavanagh commented, “We obviously bred her and were always very fond of her. She’s still an untouched product and the plan is to send her back to James Horton, who had her originally. Listen, he knows everything about her so it makes sense. 

“The mare has some lovely progeny coming through. She has a lovely Pinatubo (Ire) yearling and an Australia (GB) foal at foot so hopefully we can manage the progeny. The hope would be to win a maiden with this filly and maybe get a bit of black-type. That would be lovely.”

Osborne Stocking Up For Royal Ascot

Nobody could accuse Jamie Osborne of failing to roll up his sleeves. The trainer has been busy stocking up on youngsters who could handle the dirt in Dubai at the breeze-up sales in recent weeks and, on Thursday, struck for what he sees as an ideal Royal Ascot candidate on behalf of owners Barratt Racing in Thunder Blue (GB) (Blue Point {Ire}).

Consigned by Baroda Stud, the 94-rated Thunder Blue was snapped up for 110,000gns and will be targeted at the Palace Of Holyroodhouse on the Friday of Royal Ascot. 

Osborne explained, “He has been bought for Barratt Racing, Ian and Claire Barratt and family- they have a box at Royal Ascot and a lot of people coming. We want to have runners for them every day at the meeting. We are prioritising Royal Ascot and we want to give them as much entertainment as possible.”

He added, “This horse will go straight to the Palace Of Holyroodhouse. Who knows what beyond that. We are working back from the Friday of Royal Ascot. We saw this horse in Dubai. He did not do too well out there and so we are buying him on a form low and we have six weeks to resurrect him-I have told Ian that I can do that!”

The pink and purple silks of Barratt Racing are perhaps best associated with Emaraaty Ana (GB) (Shamardal), who was successful in a Group 3 sprint in Doha for the team back in February having been sourced by Osborne for 160,000gns at last October’s Autumn Horses-In-Training Sale.