Fresh off a win in the Group 3 Preis der Deutschen Einheit at Hoppegarten, Grocer Jack took centre stage during a record second session of the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale on Tuesday when selling for 700,000gns to Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdulaziz’s Najd Stud.
Seated with Peter and Ross Doyle, the stud’s representative Saad bin Mishraf saw off a persistent Michael Donohoe of the BBA Ireland for Christoph Berglar’s Oasis Dream four-year-old, whose recent performances for trainer Waldemar Hickst had also included a win in the Group 3 Premio Ambrosianio and a second to Skalletti in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen.
“He is for the Saudi Cup and with that rating, he will definitely be accepted for the race,” bin Mishraf. “Hopefully, he will act on the dirt.
“We hoped we might get him for 400,000gns – it was tough competition and I think it was from people with the same target! The prize-money fund at the Saudi Cup is driving up the market for the right horses. And it is not just the Saudi Cup, there are other valuable races on that card too – Saudi is becoming very important on the international racing scene.”
Grocer Jack has improved all season for Hickst and with the horse still only a four-year-old, no one could have blamed connections for giving into the temptation of retaining him for another season. However, there was concrete reasoning behind the decision to sell, as explained by vendor Ronald Rauscher.
“Being in Germany, prize-money is fairly low, and ground-wise you are not getting that faster going we think he needs,” he said. “We have travelled to Italy but still in most cases we did not get the ideal ground for him. We did even consider setting him up in a satellite yard in California, but it was not really tenable, and in the end, the time was right to being him here.
“Coming here to this sale was, in my book, the best course of action, as regards selling. If you have a four-year-old, you will find that the right people and bidders will be here.”
“He has been trained by Waldemar Hickst, who has done a fabulous job really looked after him. He delivered him here in top condition – the horse is a credit to him and his team.”
Najd Stud’s haul for the day also included three-time winner My Frankel, for whom the team signed at 310,000gns.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the 95-rated Frankel four-year-old has proven particularly effective on the all-weather, the surface on which he landed his most recent win, a 1m4f handicap at Kempton back in April.
“This horse is by Frankel, so that is very good, and we like his dam side too [he is out of Group 2 winner My Special J’s, by Harlan’s Holiday],” said bin Mishraf. “Hopefully he will suit our racing in Saudi Arabia very well. He will be trained by Saud Saad and might be one for the King’s Cup.”
Donohoe had earlier enjoyed better luck in his pursuit of Saturday’s Group 1 Vertem Futurity fourth Hannibal Barca.
With a bid of 500,000gns, the BBA Ireland agent was able to secure the Zoffany two-year-old on behalf of an existing client and is looking forward to seeing him embark on a high-profile three-year-old campaign next season.
“He has been bought for an existing client who has a couple of horses in England, Ireland and France, and he may stay in training here,” said Donohoe, after outbidding Kelsey Lupo and Alex Elliott. “We are not sure what the plans are with him, the first thing was to get him bought.”
Hannibal Barca’s profile has been one of progression for Brian Meehan since he ran third on debut at Ascot in September, with the son of Zoffany subsequently going on to win well at Salisbury in the colours of Sam Sangster prior to his run in Saturday’s Doncaster showpiece, in which he finished fourth to Luxembourg. Meehan was effusive in his praise for the horse following that run, stating that he was ‘definitely Group 1 class’.
“The horse looks very impressive,” said Donohoe. “His maiden victory was very impressive and I thought it was a superb run in that ground at the weekend – he was gutsy and it was his determination that got him through it.
“He is still quite green and he is a lovely big scopey horse, 16.1hh, with a lot of scope to him, we think he is very progressive.
“He could obviously be a horse for the Classics next year, he could have the speed for a mile but I think in time he could stay further.
“We are very happy to get him, he is very clean, he has a lovely attitude and temperament. He did not turn a hair there the couple of times we saw him or in the pre-parade ring. He is rated 111 and by next May or June, today’s price could be good value.”
The transaction ensured a fine profit for owner Sam Sangster, who had paid £55,000 for Hannibal Barca out of last year’s Goffs UK Orby Sale. Bred by the late Peter Magnier at his Brittas House Stud, he is the best performer thrown so far by Galileo’s first ever stakes winner Innocent Air, winner of the Listed Washington Singer Stakes back in 2005.
“I am still buzzing, it was emotional really,” said Sangster. “Brian [Meehan] and I buy a lot of horses together on spec and we put them in the shop window, he was one of them. We loved him as a yearling, but with the year of COVID we struggled to get people to the yard and he was one of the horses we did not get sold.
“We have a lot of confidence in the horses we buy, so we raced him; full credit to Brian who believed in the horse to take him to the Doncaster race. He has such a bright future, we are obviously gutted to see him go but it was good business all round.”
He added: “As a yearling he was exactly what he was in the ring there today – a gorgeous, free-moving horse. He is a Zoffany out of a Galileo mare, it is a beautiful proven cross.
“When we bought him I thought we’d bought him every well. Did I believe he’d go and make half a million at Tattersalls? No!”
Donohoe also struck a winning bid of 230,000gns for the Queen’s progressive homebred Wink Of An Eye out of William Haggas’ Somerville Lodge Stables’ draft. The son of Dubawi has risen this season from an opening mark of 66 to 91 off the back of a quartet of wins, notably at the Qatar Goodwood Festival where he scored in a competitive 1m3f handicap.
Busy day for Red Baron’s Barn
Californian outfit Red Baron’s Barn & Rancho Temescal was another to raid the Haggas draft, landing classy two-year-old Maglev on a bid of 300,000gns.
The joint £210,000 Goffs UK Breeze-Up sale-topper back in April, Maglev won at Yarmouth in July before running second to Harrow in a valuable nursery at York’s Ebor Festival. The son of Galileo Gold was last seen running a creditable fifth in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
Red Baron’s Barn & Rancho Temescal are regular buyers at this sale – they came away with subsequent Grade 1-winning miler River Boyne out of the 2017 renewal – and hopes are high that Maglev could prove similarly effective under Californian conditions.
“Towards the end of the year there are a couple of stakes races in California, but it is the three-year-old year that we are looking forward to,” said the farm’s Tim Cohen. “His form is excellent, he vetted well, I thought one of the better two-year-olds in this sale, Alastair [Donald] was very confident and we kept going – I think he is the first by Galileo Gold to go out to the US, and the most expensive!
“We’ve had good success with the horses we have taken back from here. We look for horses who can handle firm ground, that is what we are keen on.”
Red Baron’s Barn & Rancho Temescal also went to 170,000gns for Delmona, another talented two-year-old was Group 3-placed for Tom Dascombe this season.
‘An outstanding horse’
The sale of Dancing King provided a wonderful return for his owners Kingsley Park 16, the syndicate run by his trainer Mark Johnston. Bought for just 18,000gns as a yearling, the Free Eagle gelding is a typically tough customer from the yard as the winner of five of his eight starts this season capped by the Group 3 March Stakes at Goodwood on his most recent outing. With that win in the bag to go with his progressive profile, he sold on Tuesday for 380,000gns to Stuart Boman of Blandford Bloodstock.
A five-time scorer for owners Khalid Al-Mudhaf and Mohammed Al-Qatami, the Make Believe gelding came into the sale on a high for trainer Roger Charlton as the winner of his most recent start at Newbury.
“He is a lovely horse, I paid a lot for him, but from an Australian’s perspective he is the right profile,” said Boman, signing again on behalf of an existing client.
“He has done everything – he has won all distance ranges and won on all goings. He is very progressive and been beautifully handled by Roger Charlton and his team.
“He is a very muscular horse and he came here after as a last start winner of a good handicap winner at Newbury. He looks as though he could step into group company next year in England.”
Boman added: ”I don’t think there are any other regions who would value a horse such as this in a similar vein, but he looks the perfect Caulfield Cup type, and maybe, hopefully, a Melbourne Cup type, too. They are big statements to make – he is currently a handicapper – but he fits the profile and he looks like he is going to keep on improving.”
Pritchard-Gordon targets Shadwell
As on Monday, offerings hailing from the draft belong to Shadwell Estates, which is restructuring following the death of its principal Sheikh Hamdan, were popular; so far, the draft has turned over close to 3 million guineas on the sale of 61 horses.
Tuesday’s draft was led by a pair of highly promising two-year-olds in Ikhtiraaq and Qitaal, both of whom commanded 220,000gns from Rupert Pritchard-Gordon having broken their maidens earlier this month; Ikhtiraaq, a homebred son of Invincible Spirit, won his third start at Leicester for Owen Burrows while Qitaal, a homebred son of Iffraaj, recently won his third start at Nottingham for Mark Johnston.
Both are now set to carry the colours of Robert Ng, perhaps best known in these parts as the owner of Group 1 miler Romanised.
“As I said to Mr Ng, in 40 years this has never happened before – no one has been able to buy a decent winning two-year-old of Sheikh Hamdan’s,” said Pritchard-gordon. “So we are having a go.
“The market is strong. There are lot of people for whom this is what it is all about – dreaming and hoping that one of these horses, whether it is this fella or another one, will develop into a smart three-year-old. You always have got a chance when you are buying from these farms.
“They will stay in Europe. Then they need to tick all the boxes. We will see how next year’s campaign goes and then consider Hong Kong or Singapore for them – Mr Ng has horses there as well.”
Tuesday’s session was a record affair, turning over a total of 11,263,500gns for 256 horses sold. The average rose by 61% to 43,994gns while the median soared by 71% to 20,500gns.
The sale continues from 9.30am tomorrow.