Trade took an understandable hit at the Goffs Orby Sale in Doncaster on Wednesday as the market continued to adjust to the pandemic afflicted world.

With the highly anticipated Sea The Stars filly out of Green Room, a half-sister to Group 1 winners Forever Together and Together Forever, failing to sell for £775,000, it was left to a son of Invincible Spirit to lead the way with a £420,000 valuation from American-based agent Ben McElroy.

His sale was one of the bright spots of a tough day for vendors, during which 165 horses – 81% of those offered – sold for an average of £69,721, well behind last year’s overall average of €117,933.

“It is very heartening to see a clearance rate of 81%,” said Henry Beeby, Goffs Group Chief Executive. “It demonstrates a pragmatism and realism from vendors, and we salute them. They have accepted the situation, read the market and done their best.”

Last year’s sale featured four million euro yearlings; on Wednesday, the benchmark was £420,000.

Unlike previous years, there was no activity from either Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin or Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estates; the latter is usually a particularly strong supporter of this sale.

Coolmore’s MV Magnier was also quiet, with a single £180,000 purchase – a colt by Lope De Vega – to his name.

Against that, however, there was welcome interest from American-based buyers, notably agents Ben McElroy and Mike Akers. Juddmonte Farms also made a foray into the market, paying £280,000 for a Kingman filly related to Zoffany, as did the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which paid £260,000 for a Dark Angel brother to Group 2 winner Birchwood.

Stonestreet strike

In another example of the appeal of European stock within American circles, the £420,000 session-topping colt will head across the Atlantic to ultimately join trainer Wesley Ward on behalf of Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, the combination behind this year’s Prix Morny heroine Campanelle.

“He’ll go back to America,” said McElroy after outbidding MV Magnier. “He’ll head to Ian Brennan at Stonestreet’s training facility in Florida and then on to Wesley Ward in the spring. Hopefully he’ll be a Royal Ascot horse too. He’s a very athletic colt, a great mover, just a really nice horse. He’s going to stand up well when he gets in amongst the American horses.

“I know the family well as I was actually the underbidder on Yellow Rosebud as a yearling at Goffs years ago, and Seeharn was a very talented filly when she was with Kevin Prendergast. I remember seeing this horse’s brother last year too.”

“The first year we came over here we bought a filly called Windracer, who actually beat Love in a maiden, and then that carried on into last year when we bought Campanelle. This is the same type physically, he’s got that wow factor. I was hoping he’d cost less but it is what it is.”

His sale marked an excellent start to the sale for his vendor, the Irish National Stud, who bred the colt out of the Pivotal mare Aimhirgin Lass. He is the second foal out of his dam, herself a homebred daughter of their noted producer Nebraas.

Nebraas joined the stud when purchased for 170,000gns through McKeever St Lawrence in 2004 and has since repaid that outlay many times over, notably as the dam of Group 3 winner Yellow Rosebud, who did plenty to promote the stud’s former stallion Jeremy during his early seasons, and Listed scorer Seeharn.
Aimhirgin Lass, by Pivotal, didn’t quite reach those heights but she was smart enough to win twice in the colours of the President Of Ireland.

“He’s always been a lovely colt, right from the moment he was born,” said Cathal Beale, chief executive of the Irish National Stud. “It’s very exciting for the stud – he’s a real Irish National homebred. Aimhirgin Lass has another lovely colt by Invincible Spirit and is back in foal to Phoenix Of Spain. And Nebraas is in foal to Phoenix Of Spain also.”

A good day for Invincible Spirit also included the sale of a half-brother to Group 3 winner Eastern Impact for £350,000 to Mark McStay of Avenue Bloodstock.
Bred and sold by Airlie Stud, the colt is also a half-brother to Listed winner Miss Katie Mae and Stewards’ Cup scorer Summerghand, and out of Kate The Great, a winning Xaar relation to Deep Impact.

“He’s for an old family friend, an established client,” said McStay after outbidding Jake Warren and Michael Donohoe. “He could be trained in either Britain or Ireland, we’re not sure where yet.

“He’s a beautiful horse out of a mare who has had three stakes horses. And he’s from a fantastic nursery in Airlie – Tony Rogers just told me he thinks that this is one of the best horses he has raised, which is high praise coming from that farm.

“Invincible Spirit needs no introduction, he’s a stallion I have an affinity with and he’s had another wonderful year on the track, and this looks a fast horse. So I’m delighted to get him.”

Bold pinhook pays off

After enjoying a good result with a bold pinhook at Arqana earlier this month, Baroda Stud repeated the trick again on Wednesday afternoon thanks to their daughter of Dark Angel, a €260,000 foal purchase who blossomed into a £400,000 yearling.

Goffs marketing director Joey Cullen, taking instructions via phone, came out on top after a protracted duel with the BBA Ireland’s Michael Donohoe.
Cullen was acting on behalf of CBR Bloodstock and was unable to shed any light on the filly’s future.

In light of the outside world and accompanying uncertainty, Baroda’s David Cox was understandably delighted with the result.

The Dark Angel half-sister to Jack Naylor selling for £400,000 on Wednesday – Photo: Goffs

“We’ve had her at home since Goffs last November,” he said. “She has a great pedigree – her half-sister Jack Naylor was a very good filly – and she is obviously by a very good stallion. It’s a good result.”

Out of the 2005 Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Fashionable, the filly is a half-sister to five winners including the aforementioned Jack Naylor, who was trained by Jessica Harrington to win the Silver Flash Stakes and run second in the Irish Oaks.

Further back, it is the excellent Juddmonte family of Wandesta.

Mehmas in demand

Tally-Ho Stud’s Mehmas can do little wrong at the moment and his sole lot on offer was understandably in demand, selling for £330,000 to Hugo Merry.
Merry was acting on behalf of a new client with an eye on a long term plan.

“She’s for a new client and no trainer has been picked yet,” said the agent. “She will make a nice addition as a broodmare in the future though hopefully he’ll have a lot of fun racing her first.

“She was quite an obvious pick – she looks a fast filly and is by a hugely successful first-crop sire. We don’t know how they’ll get on as three-year-olds, Mehmas has that to prove, but he’s made a hell of a start and we have to get on board. We’re all fans of Dark Angel and it’s worked again!”

Tally-Ho Stud’s Mehmas has made a flying start to his stud career as the sire of four first-crop stakes-winning two-year-olds led by Saturday’s Middle Park Stakes scorer Supremacy. With 33 winners to his credit, he is also on course to become the most successful first-crop sire in European history; the record currently belongs to Iffraaj, who fired in 38 first-crop winners back in 2010.

Bred by HRI Chairperson Nicky Hartery and sold through The Castlebridge Consignment, the filly is a half-sister to German Group 3 winner K Club and the Listed-placed Back To Brussels. They are out of the placed Street Sense mare Big Boned, a half-sister to American Listed winner Cool Bullet.

Merry added: “To be fair to all the sale companies, they have worked extremely hard to keep the show on the road in extremely challenging times. With everything that is going on, we have to be grateful that there are actually sales to attend. And it’s great to see so many buyers here.”

Woods stocking up

With the purchase of Shalfleet Stables in Newmarket complete, Sean Woods was busy in Doncaster stocking up on new talent, firstly going to £170,000 for an Exceed And Excel half-brother to champion Dylan Mouth before striking at £240,000 for a son of exciting first-crop sire New Bay.

Woods trained for ten years in Newmarket, a spell that was highlighted by the Group 1 miler Mistle Cat, before switching to Hong Kong, where he sent out the winners of HK$239 million.

He purchased Shalfleet Stables, formerly the base of Jeremy Noseda, five and a half months ago.

“It’s great,” said his brother Dwayne, who signed the tickets on both colts. “It’s right on the Bury Road so you turn 20 yards left and you’re straight on the Heath.

“There’s 93 boxes and room for more. We’ve renovated the whole property – we’ve put in ten nursery paddocks, another walker and a new indoor ride.

“We got the two yearlings we wanted today, so we’ve got nine overall now. We’re not really looking at numbers – it’s more about getting the quality of horse into the yard.”

The New Bay was bred and sold by Ballylinch Stud out of the Group 2 Prix de Pomone winner Highlands Queen, a daughter of Mount Nelson purchased to join the farm for 425,000gns at Tattersalls in December 2017.

“He’s a gorgeous horse,” said Woods. “He’s so well balanced, an outstanding individual. He’s more like a 7f horse for next year and maybe one for 1m2f later on.”