Increased turnover, a smart rise in the average price, and a record-setting £200,000 for a point-to-point mare were all features of Brightwells’ Cheltenham Select May Sale.
The mare who gave the occasion a large dusting of glitter was five-year-old Theatre Territory (Lot 25), who was knocked down to Highflyer Bloodstock’s Anthony Bromley on behalf of racehorse owner and breeder Robert Waley-Cohen. Cork-based point-to-point trainer Damian Murphy, who handled just six horses this season, and who bought Theatre Territory as a foal for just €14,500, was the lucky recipient of the windfall – he rode her to victory in a 19-runner maiden at Ballindenisk earlier this month.
Waley-Cohen combines his racing and breeding interests as chairman of Cheltenham racecourse and of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association’s National Hunt Committee, which made him an entirely appropriate buyer of a fabulous mare who has the potential to be extremely good both on the racecourse and, one day, as a broodmare at her new owner’s Warwickshire-based stud.
Bromley said Nicky Henderson will train the sale’s top lot, and added: “I was blown away with her win, and for the past two weeks all I’ve heard is people telling me I should buy her and what a machine she was. She is very attractive and we had our hearts set on her.”
Theatre Territory is by an outstanding sire in King’s Theatre and is a half-sister to the Grade One novice hurdle-winning Glencove Marina. Under her second dam is Gr.1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Mr Dinos.
Murphy said: “A lot of people asked me if I would let her go privately after her win, but I wanted to put her through the ring – it seems to have paid off.”
The mare featured as was one of half a dozen six-figure sales that helped push up turnover by 2% to a mark of £2,459,500 despite a smaller catalogue. A total of 57 horses were offered and 43 (75%) change hands, compared to 73 offered and 55 sold in 2014. The average leapt 31% to £57,197, while the median held steady at £35,000.
Brightwells’ Richard Botterill said he was “delighted with a vibrant day’s trade” and added: “The May Sale is now proving to be the most progressive, end-of-season sale for pointers and horses that have shown form under Rules, but it has always produced a lot of success, as witnessed by such as Road To Riches and Gods Own. The sale attracts good young horses, and they go on – 73% of horses that were sold here last year have won since or been placed.
“Our grateful thanks go to the vendors and buyers who have supported us at this, and other sales, during the past 12 months, and we look forward to welcoming them again in the future.”
Bumper star joins Nicholls
Eye-catching five-year-old Modus (Lot 23), who has claims to be Britain’s leading bumper horse following two Grade One placings in recent months, made a handsome £190,000 for owner/breeder John Deer.
Chepstow-based Deer offered the big chesnut because his primary interest is Flat racing and breeding, and when Modus entered the ring some key buyers were in position to make bids. Kevin Ross, Alex Elliott and Frank Berry all showed their hands, but Tom Malone secured the prize when putting £190,000 on the table. Looking on was South Wales trainer Robert Stephens, who had guided Modus to second place in Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper ,and third in the Punchestown equivalent.
Malone, who said multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls would handle Modus’s career next season, added: “I think he’s a cheap horse. He has proper, top-class bumper form, and the [former] owner is not into jump racing so it’s a genuine reason for selling. He is the type who could become a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle horse, and he has the physique to go with it.”
Modus and top lot Theatre Territory were two of four horses that entered the ring consecutively and left with six-figure price tags.
Grey Storm (Lot 26), consigned by Donnchadh Doyle’s Monbeg Stables, made £100,000 to a bid from Richard Pugh. A four-year-old son of the Monsun stallion September Storm, he had won his only Irish point-to-point at Dawstown earlier this month, while Baden (Lot 28), a recent winner at Bartlemy for trainer Ronnie O’Leary, made £160,000.
Highflyer Bloodstock’s David Minton bought Baden, a grey son of Martaline who will be joining Nicky Henderson. Minton said: “Derek O’Connor, who rode the horse when he won, recommended him very highly. He came from a long way back in his point-to-point, but won in good style and has a bit of class about him. The second looks smart, too.”
The four-year-old maiden won by Baden at Bartlemy was run in two divisions and the first three in each race were sold by Brightwells yesterday. Minella Suite (Lot 35) who was second to Baden in division two made £80,000, while third-placed Kalondra (Lot 48) achieved £65,000.
Division one winner A Genie In Abottle (Lot 32) and runner-up Black Ace (Lot 37) were both knocked down to agent Mags O’Toole for £60,000 and £95,000 respectively, while third home Robintheaulad (Lot 52) made £10,000.
Table-topper Doyle in good form
Donnchadh Doyle may be on crutches, but he is setting the pace in the Irish point-to-point trainers’ championship, which concludes with a pair of two-day meetings at Kinsale and Ormond this weekend.
Doyle, who suffered a foot injury when a horse jumped on it, is one ahead of Colin Bowe, but it is no surprise he leads the table given the number of high-quality horses he has handled this season. Two sold for big sums yesterday – the aforementioned September Storm, and Monbeg Notorious (Lot 61), who came to Cheltenham fresh from a win last Saturday at Tralee.
A four-year-old son of Milan out of a Presenting mare, Monbeg Notorious beat a field of 11 in good style, a point not lost on Mags O’Toole and trainer Gordon Elliott, who teamed up to give £155,000 for the youngster. The Ronnie O’Leary-trained Western Cape (Lot 64), who chased home Monbeg Notorious, was bought by Wiltshire-based trainer Seamus Mullins for £85,000.
Bumper winner Peter The Mayo Man (Lot 7) changed hands for £120,000 in a private sale conducted by Brightwells’ Ireland representative Michael Moore.
His purchase had scored for Sabrina Harty’s stable at Fairyhouse, and has the pedigree to be a very smart performer, being a son of Dylan Thomas out of a half-sister to Gr.1 1,000 Guineas heroine Ameerat.
Top lot Theatre Territory was not the only smart mare on offer, for Belle Empress (Lot 12) had gained plaudits when winning for Colin Bowe at Curraheen on debut a month ago. Gerry Hogan had to find £65,000 to secure her for Emma Lavelle, and then said: “She’s a big, good-looking mare, athletic and with a very nice page. She has page and performance, and while she was green when she won, there is a lot of improvement to come.”
Tom George almost landed a big prize at his local track in March when God’s Own – who he bought at this sale in 2012 – finished runner-up in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy. Yesterday he was back at the ring with bloodstock agent Alex Elliott, and the two men teamed up to buy Bun Doran (Lot 36), who went into a lot of notebooks when winning at Necarne two weeks ago.
The son of Shantou was trained by Michael Goff for owner Dick Frisby, who was first on the scene to congratulate the buying team after their £76,000 bid proved successful. The price perhaps reflected a couple of minor issues that Bun Doran carried, but George was happy with the buy, saying: “It’s very hard to compete at the top level, and buying horses with a minor issue or two was how I got going. We now have a racehorse who looked very smart when he won.”
British pointers score, too
British point-to-pointers with pedigree and a good run to their name can turn a profit in the ring, as proved by Fly Du Charmil (Lot 40). A winner at Woodford in Gloucestershire on his only start, the four-year-old son of Saint Des Saints – who was consigned from Tom Lacey’s Herefordshire yard – made £80,000 to a bid from Highflyer Bloodstock.
Jack In A Box (Lot 16) made £28,000 for Robert Chugg’s Little Lodge Farm. A winner at Upton-upon-Severn, the five-year-old son of Kayf Tara joins West Country trainer Nigel Hawke, while Ben Pauling will handle Cyrius Moriviere (Lot 8), who was bought by Highflyer Bloodstock’s Tessa Greatrex for £18,000.
Being beaten twice by two very smart maidens was no disgrace, and the five-year-old then won at Kingston Blount – he should have no problem paying his way for Pauling’s emerging training operation.