Goffs played host to one of the most memorable days of trading on Friday as the star siblings Alpha Centauri and Alpine Star, a pair of gems from the highly anticipated Niarchos dispersal, sold for €6 million apiece to MV Magnier.
The price matches the previous sale record set by the Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita when she sold out of the Paulyn dispersal to Peter and Ross Doyle, acting on behalf of Coolmore, in 2016.
In a highly-charged sales ring, Magnier outbid Juddmonte Farm and Northern Farm among others for Alpine Star before again getting the better of that pair for Alpha Centauri.
Overall, 37 mares and fillies in training belonging to the Niarchos family turned over €27,070,000. In a tribute to the high regard with which the industry holds the bloodlines, many of them curated over 50 years, it also attracted investment from the Aga Khan Studs, Juddmonte, Nurlan Bizakov’s Sumbe, Yulong Investments, China Horse Club and American owner Mike Repole alongside various others.
While Alpha Centauri and Alpine Star dominated the day, Magnier also struck at €3.7 million for the Prix Marcel Boussac winner Albigna as well as €3.3 million for proven producer That Which Is Not.
“It’s been quite a day,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family. “It’s a great tribute to decades of building these bloodlines. It’s very much mixed emotions but as we said from the start it was a restructuring. That’s been accomplished. And we’ve still got the bloodlines coming through the racing stock, yearling fillies and then the foals, so even though we’ve separated from the great racemares, we still have the blood.
“The family would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its success from the people who foal them to those involved with the training and racing of them, and then when they come back to breeding.
“We have about 20 yearlings to put into training and 30 foals to come.
“There’s been a lot of people involved, a lot of preparation and today there has been a lot of emotion. We would just like to thank everybody involved.”
‘This means a lot to us to be able to give back to Maria for all the support she’s given us for a long time’
Alpine Star was the first of the €6 million siblings to take her turn in the ring as part of the Niarchos draft from Kiltinan Castle Stud. The daughter of Sea The Moon was trained by Jessica Harrington to win the 2020 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and was also second in the Prix de Diane and Prix de l’Opera. She has a filly foal by Frankel on the ground and is back in foal to Juddmonte’s champion sire.
“She was a very good racemare and it’s an incredible family,” said MV Magnier. “Honestly, from all our partners, everyone, we’re delighted just to be able to buy these mares from Maria. She’s been a huge supporter of ours for as long as I’ve been alive – she’s also godmother to my brother. This means a lot to us to be able to give back to Maria for all the support she’s given us for a long time.”
He added: “They’re special mares, they really are. They could do anything. We don’t have much of this family although we did race her half-brother [Royal Lodge Stakes winner] Tenth Star. We bought him at Deauville and I remember Aidan liked the horse a good bit.
“With this mare, what we’ll probably do when the time comes is send her to Auguste Rodin. When he won the Derby, I’d say 30 seconds later Dad rang me and said this is the most important thing to have happened to Coolmore since Galileo won the Derby. He has absolutely everything, from Deep Impact to his mother being a champion and grandmother being a champion. He’s a Group 1-winning two-year-old, Derby winner, Breeders’ Cup winner, Irish Champion Stakes winner – he’s everything that we’re really looking for and when the time comes after next year, we’ll really get behind him.”
It was in this ring ten years ago that Coolmore, working through Peter and Ross Doyle, bought Chicquita for €6 million. Today the daughter of Montjeu is an accomplished producer as the dam of stakes winners Emily Dickinson, Nicest and Secret Thoughts among others.
“Chicquita cost a lot of money but she’s worked out very well for us,” said Magnier. “It kind of shows how much the lads are willing to invest in these mares and it’s good when the likes of Chicquita works out because it gives them the appetite to go back.”
Alpha Centauri, meanwhile, was offered in foal to Sea The Stars as part of the Norelands Stud draft. Also trained by Jessica Harrington, the striking grey won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot by six lengths, the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket by nearly five, the Irish 1,000 Guineas by nearly two and the Niarchos family-sponsored Prix Jacques les Marois in similarly authoritative fashion over a field of colts and older horses.
She has a two-year-old Frankel filly named Earth and a yearling filly by Circus Maximus named Proxima Centauri.
The exploits of Alpha Centauri and Alpine Star added further chapters in the already rich story of champion Miesque. Bred by Stavros Niarchos from the third crop of Nureyev, her wins included the 1,000 Guineas, Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Prix Jacques le Marois and two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It is through her Classic-winning daughter East Of The Moon that Alpa Centauri and Alpine Star descend; the pair are out of the Rahy mare Alpha Lupi, also the dam of 2021 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Discoveries. Sadly that filly died following her run in last year’s Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
‘It’s nostalgia but it all goes back to Stavros Niarchos, Philip Payne-Gallwey and Francois Boutin. Francois picked out Pasadoble as a yearling for $45,000 because of the French influences in her bloodline and the story stems from there. And the story still goes on’
“We had a look last week at the descendants of Miesque and her dam Pasadoble and there are 91 black-type winners now descending from Pasadoble,” said Cooper. “It’s become so global. The Miesque line is very good in Japan, for instance, with Loves Only Me winning the Breeders’ Cup and also Real Steel.
“We still have Alpha Lupi in foal to Sea The Stars. She’s coming up to 20 and we thought it would be a great unjust to bring her to a sale at that age. We still have plenty of the family but via different branches. Hopefully Saturn [the first foal out of Alpha Centauri] will break his maiden next week. It’s nostalgia but it all goes back to Stavros Niarchos, Philip Payne-Gallwey and Francois Boutin. Francois picked out Pasadoble as a yearling for $45,000 because of the French influences in her bloodline and the story stems from there. And the story still goes on.”
Magnier’s high-profile haul also included the Prix Marcel Boussac heroine Albigna, for whom he outbid Juddmonte and Al Shira’aa Farms at €3.7 million.
Also successful in the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes for Jessica Harrington, the daughter of Zoffany is out of Prix de Pomone winner Freedonia and a member of the Niarchos’ Napoli line that formerly came to prominence through the top miler Domedriver. She was sold by Baroda Stud in foal to St Mark’s Basilica.
“She’s a lovely mare,” said Magnier. “I just have to say the whole Niarchos family have been very special friends of ours for a very long time. These kind of mares don’t come on the market very often and we’re lucky that we’ve got very good partners who are willing to support us in buying them.”
He added: “St Mark’s Basilica has some very good foals on the ground and if she has a good foal by him she could easily go back to him next year.”
Magnier was also determined in his pursuit of the proven producer That Which Is Not, eventually having the last say at €3.3 million. A member of the Lingerie family, the Listed-winning daughter of Elusive Quality has got off to a brisk start at stud as the dam of Piz Badile, who won the Ballysax Stakes en route to running second in the Irish Derby, and Yosemite Valley, who ran second to Little Big Bear in last year’s Anglesey Stakes.
That Which Is Not, whose dam Shiva won the 1999 Tattersalls Gold Cup for Sir Henry Cecil, also has a yearling colt by Frankel, foaled a filly by Dubawi this year and is in foal to Frankel.
Trio to the Aga Khan Studs
The Aga Khan Studs, signing under the Gilltown Stud banner, also came away with three Niarchos mares worth €1,375,000 headed by Malicieuse, a stakes-placed Galileo half-sister to Arc hero Bago from the famous Coup De Genie family in foal to Wootton Bassett. The stud also paid €450,000 for Raja Ampat, a Galileo daughter of champion Six Perfections in foal to Baaeed, as well as €150,000 for her close relation La Fiamma, a War Front mare in foal to Mehmas.
Asked about the rarity of the purchases, he said: “It is rare, but then it’s also rare that you get an opportunity like this. Obviously we’ve made block purchases in the recent past, but the last filly or mare we went to market for in Ireland before this was Four Sins.
“The Niarchos family pedigrees are tried and tested over many generations so when they came on the market here it was something we had to take a close look at. We inspected a few of them and liked what we saw.
“They all have incredibly deep pages, of course. They should make a nice addition to our broodmare band.”
Recent Listed Navigation Stakes winner Foniska also found favour, with online bidder Bassingham Bloodstock emerging on top over Charlie Gordon-Watson at €775,000. Also a winner at two, the three-year-old Galileo filly is out of Group 2 winner Bocca Baciata, herself sold for €530,000 at this sale last year, and hails from a very productive family originally cultivated by Gerry Oldham.
As for Juddmonte, while they came off second best on several of the higher valued lots, the operation did come away with the Listed-winning Pivotal mare Diaphora at €770,000. Out of German champion Diacada from a deep German family, the mare is in foal to New Bay.
‘When there’s a once-in-a-lifetime draft like this you have to expect to pay a premium’
The draft also unsurprisingly piqued the interest of various Japanese parties, among them Champions Farm which successfully bid €625,000 through Curragh-based trainer Takashi Kodama for Forever Be in foal to Wootton Bassett.
Twice Listed-placed in France, the daughter of Dubawi is a half-sister to Listed winner Ghostwatch and out of another Listed scorer in Nature Spirits, herself a member of the Whakilyric family responsible for Hernando.
“She’s by Dubawi and in foal to Wootton Bassett so it’s top-class breeding,” said Kodama. “All the Niarchos family’s pedigrees are expensive, and we’ve tried on two or three so far.
“The Niarchos family are very close to the Japanese industry, and have used stallions there lots of times. They bred Study Of Man by sending a mare from the Miesque family to Deep Impact, of course, so it gives us the confidence that their bloodlines will be successful in Japan.”
Nurlan Bizakov’s Normandy-based Sumbe operation also signalled its intention to throw its weight behind its young roster with a sizeable purchase in Provocateuse, a winning daughter of Pride Of Dubai from the family of the Group 1-winning half-brothers Bago and Maxios for €600,000. Making its first purchase at Goffs, the operation signed under the banner of Belbek, one of three new stallions for Sumbe for 2024 alongside Angel Bleu and Mishriff.
“The last time I came to Goffs was for the Wildenstein dispersal, and we didn’t manage to buy anything, so let’s hope this one is lucky,” said Sumbe general manager Tony Fry.
“The prices were very strong but when there’s a once-in-a-lifetime draft like this you have to expect to pay a premium.”
Explaining why he chose Provocateuse, a five-year-old in foal to Kingman, he commented: “We think she could be a nice mating for Belbek, who’s a very special horse as Sumbe’s first homebred Group 1 winner and one of three new stallions we’re launching next year along with Angel Bleu and Mishriff.
“She’ll suit Belbek on physique. She’s not overly big and she’s correct, which is what you’re looking for when you’re spending that sort of money. Belbek is a nice size for a Showcasing, with more size and scope than many by him. She’s quick and he’s a top miler, so hopefully it’s a match made in heaven.”
It wasn’t all about the Niarchos horses, of course.
Listed winner Thoughts Of June was the last of the five millionaires to pass through the ring when commanding a bid of €2 million from her co-owner Moyglare Stud Farm. The grey daughter of Galileo was co-bred by the farm out of the Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq and campaigned alongside the Coolmore partners with Aidan O’Brien to win last year’s Cheshire Oaks prior to running down the field in the Oaks on her final start. She was sold through The Castlebridge Consignment in foal to No Nay Never.
On a day when some sizeable bids were lodged online, Avondale Bloodstock made use of the facility to buy the Pretty Polly Stakes winner Ambivalent out of the Godolphin draft for €925,000. Now 14-years-old, the daughter of Authorized has bred two high-class performers in Teona, winner of the Prix Vermeille, and Al Hilalee, winner of the Prix Hocquart. She was sold back in foal to Teona’s sire Sea The Stars.
Luke Barry’s Manister House Stud also enjoyed a memorable touch with its Group 1 producer Laurelita, who sold for €440,000 in foal to Starspangledbanner to Bassingham Bloodstock, bidding through Kate Harrington.
The stud paid just 11,000gns through Anthony Stroud for the daughter of High Chaparral at the 2014 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale. Since then, the mare has produced three winners for Manister House led by the current Grade 1 heroine Fev Rover, who ran third in the 2021 1,000 Guineas for Richard Fahey prior to switching to Mark Casse in the US, where she has won the Grade 1 Beverly D and E. P. Taylor Stakes.
“She’s a wonderful prospect going forward,” said Luke Barry. “She’s been a pleasure to have had anything to do with and we wish her new connections the very best with her. Hopefully we can go out now and replace her.”