The Captain leads the way
Chris Hill brings us our weekly bloodstock review of the British racing scene and news from the sales ring.
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Captain Conan (Kingsalsa) maintained his unbeaten chasing record when taking the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown Park the same week as his winning half-sister, Courageuse (Linamix) made £28,000 at this week's DBS January Sale when privately selling to Kieren Cotter. Already in foal to Muhtathir, Courageuse is expected to visit Flemensfirth, the sire of Imperial Commander, Tidal Bay and Flemenstar later this year.
This figure was only the joint-second highest price seen at Doncaster though as Tom Malone and trainer Tim Vaughan paid £35,000 when privately purchasing the Grade 3-winning mare Great Oak (Dushyantor) who will be sent to Vaughan's Welsh base. Equalling the price paid for Courageuse was Stephen Hillen who purchased the Darley-consigned gelding Modernism (Monsun) on behalf of Dr Marwan Koukash and who will return to the flat after two unplaced starts over hurdles for John Ferguson. These purchases helped the DBS sale end the day with total gains of 32% and a 5% average increase in average on the 2012 figures.
Elsewhere on the racecourse, Sizing Europe (Pistolet Bleu) comfortably won the Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown for the second consecutive season to set up a potential clash with Sprinter Sacre should he bid to regain his Champion Chase crown in March. Pistolet Bleu's offspring seem to perform best over 2m with Geos and I'msingingthblues, the sires other most-notable N.H. performers, both recording Graded successes over close to the minimum N.H. distance. Trainer Henry De Bromhead still appears to be keeping his Cheltenham festival options open though as his stable-star is also engaged in the 2m 5f Ryanair Chase and the blue-riband Cheltenham Gold Cup over 3m 2½f.
Another horse with his Cheltenham options unclear is Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle winner, Mozoltov (Kayf Tara), a 35,000 guineas graduate of the DBS January Sale in 2008, who inflicted a second-consecutive defeat on Don Cossack (Sholokhov) who on his previous appearance fell when held by Mozoltov's stablemate, Pont Alexandre. Both Willie Mullins-trained horses hold multiple Cheltenham novice hurdle entries but Mozoltov, who finished 3rd in the 2012 Punchestown Champion Bumper has the Supreme Novices' as his favoured option. Kayf Tara's progeny tend to excel over longer trips as exemplified by Punchestown Gold Cup winner Planet of Sound and Hennessy-hero Carruthers, who also won over the weekend, so the 2m of the Supreme Novices' may be a bit on the short side and although Mozoltov's dam is by the miler Rudimentary, strong-staying Behrajan appears further back in his pedigree to further suggest races where more stamina is required may be the way to go.
"Pistolet Bleu's offspring seem to perform best over 2m with Geos and I'msingingthblues, the sires other most-notable N.H. performers, both recording Graded successes over close to the minimum N.H. distance"
A week after Roger Brookhouse spent £120,000 at the Brightwells Cheltenham January Sale, his £40,000 purchase of Goulanes (Mr Combustible) at the venue's 2011 December sale continued to pay off and is now just £3,000 short of covering his initial outlay, after the 7 year-old gelding took the Grade 2 Towton Novices' Hurdle at Wetherby and brought his race record to 4 wins from 5 starts. Mr Combustible who won the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and Chester Vase for Barry Hills stands at Beechbrook Stud in Ireland and is also sire of this season's Grade 2 Monksfield Novice Hurdle winner Busty Brown.
Away from the Doncaster sales ring, Day 2 of the Karaka's Premier Yearlings Sale couldn't quite match the fireworks of the opening day when a Fastnet Rock colt sold for NZ $1,975,000, but the sale concluded on Tuesday with sales totalling NZ $51,051,500 and the average price being 2% higher than in 2012. Though the gross figure was a decrease on the previous year's sale, there were a reduced number of yearlings catalogued this year and there was more positive news as the clearance rate was an increase at 79% with the median ending up the same as in 2012. Peter Moody, best known as being the trainer of Black Caviar, signed for the top lot on the second and final day when paying NZ $775,000 for a colt by leading NZ sire Pins out of the mare Sayyida and therefore a half-brother to Cox Plate winner Ocean Park. Fastnet Rock, as is becoming the norm, ended the sale the leading sire by average helped in no small part by the top lot, and with stud mates High Chaparral and Encosta de Lago filling spaces in the top 7 leading sires at Karaka, Coolmore Australia have made a strong start to 2013.
The conclusion of Karaka's Select and Festival Sales later in the week brought with it the end of the New Zealand yearling sales season where a total of NZ $72,387,000 was grossed over the three sales. Swiss Ace led both sales' First-Season sires by average and topped the Festival Sale when a colt out of Eclaircissement realised NZ $120,000, but at the Select Sale it was Thewayyouare, trained as a 2-year-old by Andre Fabre to win the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud for Coolmore and who is also having his first yearlings in the sales ring, who sired the sale-topper when Magus Equine paid NZ $200,000 for a colt out of the 4-time winning mare City Affair.
"Peter Moody, best known as being the trainer of Black Caviar, signed for the top lot on the second and final day when paying NZ $775,000 for a colt by leading NZ sire Pins out of the mare Sayyida and therefore a half-brother to Cox Plate winner Ocean Park"
Coolmore were again in the news, this time in the Northern Hemisphere where they have bought the 2012 St James's Palace Stakes winner Most Improved (Lawman) and with him a first stallion with Invincible Spirit within their pedigree. The Irish National Stud resident is the sire of Lawman who retired to Ballylinch Stud after winning the French Derby in his classic season and who, as well as the aforementioned Most Improved, has sired Group 1 winner Law Enforcement and Group 2 winner Just The Judge from just his two crops to have raced to date. The Invincible Spirit-Sadler's Wells cross seems to work particularly well so Coolmore, with their wealth of Sadler's Wells mares, will be hoping that this new investment can continue what is already a strong trend, albeit with the cross a few generations further back in the pedigree.
In breeding news, 3-time Nassau Stakes winner Midday (Oasis Dream) produced her first foal, a colt by Galileo and it has been reported that she will added to Frankel's first book of mares. The sire of her first foal will also cover last season's 1000 Guineas winner, Homecoming Queen (Holy Roman Emperor) who has recently been retired to the paddocks, as well as the 2004 Oaks and 7-time Group 1 winner Ouija Board (Cape Cross).
Finally, in international breeding news Shadai Farms bolstered it's already illustrious broodmare band when the Yoshida's purchased the 2012 Sun Chariot and E.P. Taylor Stakes winner Siyouma (Medicean) who will move to Japan and live alongside, among other Group 1 winners, Sahpresa (Sahm) and Sarafina (Refuse To Bend), as well as Dalicia (Acatenango), the dam of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.