Two seven-figure yearlings and a set of improved statistics ensured that this year’s renewal of the Goffs Orby Sale would be fondly remembered. However, what made it truly successful was the breadth of buyers who descended on County Kildare to do battle in the 450-strong catalogue.
The two-day sale attracted investment from the usual big players, including John Ferguson, MV Magnier, Shadwell Estates, BBA Ireland, and Peter and Ross Doyle among others. But strong domestic activity was complemented by a healthy international buying bench that hailed from America, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, and China, in addition to continental Europe.
The sale opened on Tuesday riding high off the back of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ol’ Man River’s victory in the G2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh. The son of Montjeu dominated last year’s sale as the €2.85 million ($3.6 million) sale-topper, which at the time was the highest price realised by a horse at auction in Ireland since 1984. That mark was never threatened this time around but, against that, Goffs sold two million-euro yearlings, compared to just the one in 2013, while the number of yearlings to sell for €500,000 ($634,000) or more rose from five to seven.
Overall, 353 yearlings sold for a total of €38.45 million ($48.74 million), up 11 percent from 2013. The average rose 8 percent to €109,009 ($138,188) while the median soared 23 percent to €70,000 ($89,000). The clearance rate was 87 percent.
On paper, it was a relatively successful two days for pinhookers, with 80 of the 133 pinhooks offered listed as realising a profit.
“Every level of the market has grown with more yearlings realising over €100,000 ($127,000), over €250,000 ($317,000), over €500,000 ($634,000), and, of course our two millionaires,” said Henry Beeby, CEO of Goffs. “Another clear positive indicator is that the median has leapt by a highly impressive 23 percent.
“Ol’ Man River has certainly lived up to his €2.85 million top price, but we must remember he was the second-highest-priced yearling ever sold in Ireland and the most expensive for 30 years. So to return an average that improved by another eight percent without that extraordinary high is some achievement and clearly demonstrates the depth and strength of the Orby trade.”
The fireworks began less than an hour into the first session when MV Magnier outbid agent Mick Flanagan at €1.5 million ($1.9 million) for a Galileo brother to G3 winners Cuis Ghaire and Scintillula. Bred by Jim Bolger, they are out of Scribonia, an unraced Danehill half-sister to Listed winner and G1-placed Luminata.
Although some way adrift of Ol’ Man River’s price-tag, it eclipsed the top mark of €800,000 ($1,014,000) set during the 2012 renewal. It was also the highlight of a notable two days for Bolger’s Redmonstown Stud, which later sold a Teofilo sister to Irish Derby hero Trading Leader for €950,000 ($1,204,000) to John McCormack (she is set to be trained by Bolger on behalf of an undisclosed client) and an Acclamation colt out of Claiomh Solais, a G3-placed daughter of Scribonia, for €300,000 ($380,000) to BBA Ireland. As a result, Redmonstown topped the vendor standings thanks to three sold for a total of €2.75 million ($3.49 million) and average of €916,666 ($1,162,039).
While Magnier walked away with four yearlings worth €2.06 million ($2.61 million), including a pair from the first crop of Coolmore stallion Canford Cliffs, it was Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estates who led the buyers’ list as the purchaser of eight yearlings for a total of €3.405 million ($4.32 million).
Sheikh Hamdan has been a strong supporter of this sale in its various guises over the years, including in 2005, when he paid a sale-topping €1.8 million ($2.28 million) for a Kingmambo colt from Glenvale Stud. He came close to breaking the seven-figure barrier again this time around when going to €950,000 ($1,204,000) for a Teofilo sister to his high-class 3-year-old Tarfasha. A Goffs foal graduate, Tarfasha ran second to Taghrooda in the Oaks earlier this year and recently won the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.
Other purchases made by Sheikh Hamdan, who attended the sale in person, included an Invincible Spirit sister to recent May Hill Stakes third Shagah that cost €720,000 ($913,000) and a colt from the first American crop of leading Australian stallion Lonhro, for whom he paid €450,000 ($570,000).
Understandably, the progeny of Sea The Stars were in serious demand. A day after Galileo supplied the top lot, it was the turn of his younger half-brother to take centre stage as the sire of the second million-euro yearling. The filly in question, a half-sister to Lord Shanakill sold by Ballylinch Stud on behalf of breeders Vimal and Gillian Khosla, was sold to Amanda Skiffington for €1.1 million ($1.39 million).
Skiffington, who was acting for Ivawood’s owners Fiona Carmichael and Ian Jennings, had to fight off Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family, for the filly, who is also a half-sister to the promising Listed-placed 2-year-old Together Forever. Incidentally, she was the second-highest-priced yearling of last year’s sale at €680,000 ($862,000).
Sea The Stars was also responsible for a colt out of German Listed winner Evensong that fell to the China Horse Club for €850,000 ($1,077,000). Bred and sold by Roundhill Stud, he was the highlight of a first trip to Goffs for the club, which also spent €170,000 ($215,000) and €110,000 ($139,000) through Michael Wallace Bloodstock on colts by Rip Van Winkle and Dream Ahead.
Japanese activity primarily hailed from the Japan Health Summit Inc., who signed for five yearlings through Curragh-based trained Takashi Kodama, among them a €375,000 ($475,000) daughter of Galileo. The Hong Kong Jockey Club also made their presence felt as the purchaser of four yearlings worth €785,000 ($995,000), while Jehan Malherbe, of the South African-based Form Bloodstock, paid €1.355 million ($1.72 million) for eight yearlings.
There was also welcome participation from American owner Marc Keller. Acting through Fiona Shaw, he paid €300,000 ($380,000) for the sole Kitten’s Joy yearling catalogued and €280,000 ($355,000) for a colt by Scat Daddy.
If there was one disappointing aspect, it was the seeming lack of participation from Al Shaqab Racing. While John Warren and Peter and Ross Doyle, who regularly sign on behalf of the operation, were busy, not one horse went down officially in the name of Al Shaqab. Given that they signed for 10.26 million guineas ($17.39 million) worth of yearlings at Book 1 of the 2013 Tattersalls October Sale, any sighting in Newmarket next week will prompt relief among vendors.
Even so, such a competitive trade at Goffs meant that plenty of trainers and owners left Kildare having been shut out. Consequently, it would be surprising if a similarly lively market didn’t follow at Tattersalls, who are in the midst an exceptional year thanks to the likes of Australia, Night Of Thunder, and Kingston Hill.