Prix Vermeille heroine Teona led the way during a memorable evening of Sceptre Session trade at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale on Tuesday when selling for 4,500,000gns – the third highest price achieved in the sale’s history.
A Group 1 winner out of a Group 1 winner and offered with a covering to Frankel, Teona attracted immense interest from around the packed sales ring with Jill Lamb, representatives of the Haruya Yoshida’s Oiwake Farm, Charlie Gordon-Watson, Anthony Stroud and members of the Coolmore team each displaying a keen interest. However, none of them could match the determination of Juddmonte Farms, which had the final say at 4,500,000gns.
“She is the best mare in the sale,” said Simon Mockridge, general manager of Juddmonte Farms. “She’s a Group 1 winner out of a Group 1 winner. That’s very difficult to find. She’s got a great pedigree and she’s by Sea The Stars who has made an excellent start as a broodmare sire. She’ll fit in very well.
“We tried very hard to buy at Goffs and got beaten on most of the great individuals there. She’s a little bit of an outcross for Frankel, which is ideal.”
He added: “You’ve always got to stretch a bit further than you want to but for the best, you have to be competitive. It’s all very well trying to value them but when it comes to the moment, sometimes you have to stretch.”
On a day when the Tattersalls online bidding facility came in for some fierce use, Evergreen Equine made use of the option to secure fellow Group 1-winning mare Via Sistina at 2,700,000gns.
Her sale brought the curtain down on a memorable journey for Stephen Hillen, who co-owned the filly with his wife Rebecca having paid just 5,000gns for her as a yearling. In between, Via Sistina has rewarded the patience of Hillen and his wife Rebecca many times over, notably by winning the Pretty Polly Stakes prior to a pair of close seconds in the Prix Jean Romanet and Qipco Champion Stakes.
“It was surreal watching that,” said Hillen. “It’s been tremendous. I would have given a lot more for her than 5,000gns at the time [of her yearling sale]. She was a foal share and she wasn’t protected by either side. She needed a fair bit of imagination. You buy things like that sometimes and most of them turn out to be useless but she always had something about her – an unbelievable walker with a big frame.
“Jamie Magee broke her in for me. He has a lot of good stock through his hands and he rang me about February time to say that she got up the gallop better than anything else. He said to me ‘you could breeze this’. I said no, that would be the wrong thing to do – we’ll race her.
“She didn’t go into training until August just because the pedigree said wait. I’m always patient, I may have my opinions from time to time but every trainer who trains for us would always say they’re never under pressure. I’ll wait and wait and wait.
“She’s just an amazing horse. It’s a dream. I did think she’d bring two million plus. That cross [Fastnet Rock over Galileo] is sensational, she’s a Group 1 winner and she ran great in the Champion Stakes. She was improving all the time. I felt if we didn’t get what we wanted for her, we’d race her on, so it was going to be a celebration anyway.”
The British-based First Bloodstock, a fledgling syndicate with mares based at Hillwood Stud, went to 2,500,000gns through William Haggas for the beautifully-bred and talented sprinter Get Ahead, a half-sister to this year’s 2,000 Guineas winner Chaldean who won the Listed Cecil Frail Stakes and ran second in the Flying Five Stakes for Clive Cox.
However, for much of the evening it felt as though the best of Britain was heading overseas. That included the one-two from last year’s 1,000 Guineas in Cachet and Prosperous Voyage, both of whom were snapped up by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm for 2,200,000gns and 2,400,000gns respectively.
Bought for just 60,000gns as a breezer, Cachet wound up as a brilliant flag-bearer for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and her then-fledgling trainer George Boughey. She was busy as a two-year-old, when her performances included a win in the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket. Particularly effective on the Rowley Mile, that strength was put to excellent use again early the following season as she rattled off victories in the Nell Gwyn Stakes and 1,000 Guineas before succumbing by only a head in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
“Obviously she’s a 1,000 Guineas winner with a lot of speed,” said Northern Farm spokesman Shinto Hashimoto. “She is also a gorgeous mare. We’re pretty excited to take her back to Japan. She’ll be covered, perhaps in Europe or perhaps in Japan – we’ll decide at a later date.”
Her sale brought the curtain down on an ‘extraordinary journey’ for the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicate members who originally invested in the filly following her sale in the same ring in April 2021.
“It has been such a journey, the whole thing has been extraordinary,” said Harry Herbert, manager of Highclere Thoroughbreds. “From Jake saying, ‘Uncle H, I’ve found this breeze-up filly and I can’t wait to show you’, through to this whole process.”
Jake Warren added: “We just watched her being prepared to come into the ring and she stood like a rock and didn’t turn a hair. She was so cool in the ring and she’s been like that from day one. She’s been an amazing filly to be part of. She’s always had a special something about her and there was so much interest in her; she’s been run off her feet all week.
“For her owners, that’s special. She was £6,500 a share, and she was such a good two-year-old as well. It’s exciting, she was our first domestic Classic winner and the challenge is on, we’ve got to do it again now.”
He added: “This is how you get access to racing. The dream is real: when you take a share, you can win the Guineas, you can sell a multi-million-pound horse and you can be in it competing with the best in the world. And her share-holders have achieved that.”
Prosperous Voyage, meanwhile, was originally led out unsold at 2,600,000gns but later changed hands for 2,400,000gns in a private transaction. Trained by Ralph Beckett on behalf of Andrew Rosen and Marc Chan, the filly’s finest moment came defeating Inspiral in last year’s Falmouth Stakes.
“We’re very happy to be able to buy Prosperous Voyage,” said Hashimoto after concluding the private deal to buy her. “We’ll cover her next year. Again, we could bring her back to Japan or keep her here – there are so many good stallions in Europe to choose from as well.”
He added: “We are always trying to bolster the bloodlines that we have. We don’t want to have all the eggs in one basket. So we always try to buy here.”
Prosperous Voyage wasn’t the only leading lady belonging to Andrew Rosen and Marc Chan to star yesterday evening as their Cheveley Park Stakes winner Lezoo (Zoustar), another trained by Ralph Beckett, headed to Emmanuel de Seroux’s Narvick International on an online bid of 2,200,000gns.
“It’s bittersweet really because I’m very fond of both of them,” said Jamie McCalmont, the owners’ advisor. “They’re very special girls. They’e given us some great days out. It’s more sad than happy.
“Owning racehorses in England is an expensive hobby unless you have stallion income, so you have to do things like this.
“We were obviously looking for a bit more for Prosperous Voyage [when bought back at 2,600,000gns] and we debated whether to take her to one of the top stallions and bring her back here next year. But all the buyers are here today aren’t they? Tattersalls have done an excellent job of bringing so many different groups of people here – the market here speaks for itself.”