Australian buyers were out in force during Tuesday’s second session of the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale in Newmarket when accounting for four of the day’s top six lots.
Leading the way at 575,000gns to Johnny McKeever on behalf of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott was Balance Play, a recent winner at Newbury for owner Valmont and trainer Ralph Beckett who capped a momentous debut day of selling for his vendor, Alex Elliott’s Imperium Sales.
A 280,000gns yearling purchase by Elliott, Balance Play has won three of his last four starts, with his recent win in a 1m2f handicap at Newbury’s Mill Reef meeting coming at the expense of several accomplished older rivals. As a result, he headed to the sale on a fresh rating of 101, which in turn
“He’s our highest rated horse in the sale and we were under strict instruction not to leave without him!” said Claudia Miller, sales and bloodstock manager at Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Racing. “He’s a lovely three-year-old, lightly-raced, very consistent and effective on all going. He is the exact profile that we look for at this sale.
“We kicked the bidding off at 100,000gns, although we actually meant to go a bit higher as we knew there was always going to be strong competition for him. He could be anything for us though and he’s easily a stakes horse. I think there’s a lot of improvement in him in terms of form and physically. These European horses seem to explode when they get down into a bit of sunshine and the warmer weather. We’re expecting the same from him.”
McKeever added: “Sometimes it’s easier to sell a high-profile horse than a low-profile one. Luckily the prize-money is good enough to warrant blowing the budget every now and then. We knew there’d be massive interest in Balance Play though so that was about where we expected his price to be.”
The same team also went to 280,000gns for the very next lot through the ring in Bear On The Loose, another offered by Imperium although in this instance on behalf of owner KB Thoroughbreds. The gelding has won three races for Kevin Philippart de Foy this season, including his last two starts at Epsom and Chester.
“He’s a lovely horse who we purchased in partnership with Myracehorse,” said Miller. “He’s nice and lightly-raced, there’s plenty of improvement to come and he’s a beautiful type. He came highly rated on form from Rob Waterhouse. Hopefully we can do the same as we have with [Group 1 winner] Just Fine.
“There is so much interest in Australia for these types of horses. Obviously we’re racing for huge amounts of money and we’ve had so much success with European horses, particularly from this sale. It’s been a very happy hunting ground.”
Progressive three-year-olds He’s A Monster and Just Bring It, meanwhile, were snapped up out of the Imperium draft by Wathnan Racing to race on in Qatar. Acting through Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock, the operation went to 450,000gns for the 103-rated He’s A Monster, a recent winner of the hot Chelmsford handicap for Archie Watson, and to 300,000gns Just Bring It, the winner of his last two starts at Windsor and Salisbury for Clive Cox.
“They’ll both go to Qatar,” said Brown. “We focussed on buying real quality and hopefully we’ve done that. Everyone on the team very keen on both of these horses. He’s A Monster was recommended highly by Archie. He looks progressive and a particularly good looking horse. He could end up running on either turf or dirt in Qatar.
“It’s a tremendous effort by Alex Elliott on his first venture selling. They were superbly presented.”
When all was done and dusted, the Imperium Sales consignment had turned over 2,040,000gns on the sale of ten horses.
“I want to thank my clients and also the trainers – the horses turned up looking immaculate,” said Elliott. “We came here with big expectations but it’s everything we dreamed of. For all the horses to jump through the hoops and vet as they did, I have to give thanks to everyone including the vets who work with us.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a few years and it felt like the right moment. You have to have the right product and the product was there. We know the buyers, we know the product and we were confident that we had the right horses.”
He added: “We have a lot of faith in He’s A Monster but we’ve also got a lot of horses like that at home. He’s a late May foal and he handles any ground so he could be anything. It’s sad to see him go but that’s the nature of the beast at the moment.”
The Ciaron Maher team did, however, land a big fish in Chester maiden winner Amleto, who cost 360,000gns out of the William Haggas stable.
Out of the Listed winner Holy Moon, Amleto is extremely well connected as a full-brother to the ill-fated champion Sea Of Class, whose four victories for the Haggas stable included the 2018 Irish and Yorkshire Oaks. Holy Moon’s illustrious stud record also includes a pair of Group Premio Lydia Tesio winners in Charity Line and Final Score as well as another Italian champion in Cherry Collect.
Amleto has yet to match the exploits of those siblings but in a light career to date, he has left a fine impression with an easy maiden win at Chester’s May meeting followed by a second to The Goat at the Qatar Goodwood Festival meeting in August.
“He is the one we really wanted – we were very keen to pick him up,” said Will Bourne, head of bloodstock at Ciaron Maher Racing. “He is just a lovely lightly-raced horse with plenty of miles left on the clock. His profile fits Australia, especially as the sire line is proven down there with the likes of Australian Cup winner Fifty Stars and Just Fine, who recently won the Group 1 Metropolitan. We can’t wait to get him down there.”
Guy Mulcaster, acting on behalf of Australian trainer Chris Waller, also made his trip worthwhile by coming away with 770,000gns worth of stock.
They included two three-year-olds out of the popular Haggas draft led by Florida, the winner of a competitive handicap at York for owner Michael Buckley in September who was snapped up for 300,000gns.
Joining Florida on the way to Waller is Unlimited, a half-brother to the top Japanese colt Deep Brillante who struck at Kempton and Newbury this summer. He was bought for 230,000gns.
“Both horses were highly recommended by the Haggas stable and we were happy to go with their judgement,” said Mulcaster. “We like the horse’s profiles and we liked the race replays.
“I had Chris on the phone when I bought Florida, and he was pretty happy to keep going and we managed to get him at that money. In the big scheme of things, the money in Australia is for those milers and 1800 metre horses.”