Candle lights up Goffs
Chris Hill brings us our weekly bloodstock review of the British racing scene and news from the sales ring.
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Goffs kicked off their 2013 sales season last Wednesday where their February Mixed Sale saw three-year-old filly Candle Lit (Duke of Marmalade) being sold by Moyglare Stud to Cathy Grassick for €100,000, the only six-figure price paid at the sale. Being out of the Listed winning mare Diamond Trim, Candle Lit's pedigree is full of recent Group race performers for the vendors, namely triple Group 3 winner and Irish St Leger second Profound Beauty, to whom Candle Lit is a half-sister, as well as Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner Irresistible Jewel who herself has produced an Irish St Leger winner in Royal Diamond, another Ribblesdale winner in Princess Highway and the Group 3 winner and Irish 1000 Guineas runner-up Mad About You.
Overall the sale did finish down on the previous year though with the aggregate being €2,879,750, a drop of 22%, and the average price paid being €9,729, a drop of 27%. These figures certainly weren't helped by the fact that at the 2012 February Sale the top-lot went for €500,000 compared to the €100,000 paid this year to secure the Moyglare Stud filly, but this year's sale did record the second-best returns since the economic downturn and was still a considerable improvement on the 2011 sale's figures.
At Arqana's February Mixed Sale, the €200,000 paid by Jean-Marie Callier on behalf of Glen Hill Farm in Ocala, Florida to secure Gulsary (Galileo) ensured top-lot status by a considerable margin, with the next highest figure paid at the French sale being €62,000. The two-time winning mare is a half-sister to Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye winner Imperial Beauty and the Listed-placed Be My Queen who both ran in the Coolmore silks for John Hammond and Aidan O'Brien respectively. O'Brien also handled a couple of horses found further in Gulsary's pedigree with Group 1 winners Together and Jan Vermeer appearing in the 2nd dam and part of the appeal for Glen Hill Farm in their purchase was the chance to bring some Galileo blood over to the States where the mare will race before retiring to the paddocks and a new career as a broodmare.
"The regally bred half-brother to Zarkava comes from one of the Aga-Khan's most notable families with Group 1 winners aplenty including Prix de Diane winner Zainta, herself the dam of another Grade 1 winning jumper Zaidpour"
As with Goffs later in the week, Arqana finished their February Mixed sale down on the previous year with a total of €1,529,200 changing hands when private sales were added to the sales ring purchases, a drop of €173,300 on 2012. However, like Goffs, an increase in gross on all corresponding February sales since the downturn was seen, with the median price being the same as in 2012 from exactly the same number of lots catalogued and Eric Hoyeau, President of Arqana seemed happy with the trade when saying "This was a true industry sale that fulfilled its role as expected. If you discount the Wildenstein dispersal of last year, the average and the total aggregate were higher this year."
On the racecourse, Cue Card (King's Theatre) led home a 1-2 for his sadly-deceased sire when defeating Captain Chris in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase on Saturday for trainer Colin and jockey Joe Tizzard, in so doing continuing Tattersalls Ireland's great run of sales success from last weekend. Both the winner and runner-up went through the ring at their Derby Sale with Cue Card, on the second occasion he was offered at Tattersalls Ireland, selling to Aidan Kennedy for €52,000 in 2009.
The admirable 7-year-old has only twice been out of the first two when completing in his 15 races which include victories in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Haldon Gold Cup and is now expected to head for either the Champion Chase or Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month. Should he run in the latter, he would be bidding to follow in the footsteps of his paternal-sibling Riverside Theatre who took the Ryanair Chase last year and is on course to defend his title on March 14th.
Their sire, who was trained by Henry Cecil to win the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1994 for Sheikh Mohammed after a 2 year-old campaign that yielded success in the Racing Post Trophy, passed away in 2011 and his progeny have recorded considerably better results over obstacles than on the flat, with just the one top-level flat winner, King's Drama, who won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga in 2005, from his 14 crops of racing age. With representatives at this year's Festival including The New One and Menorah, as well as Saturday's Ascot 1-2, King's Theatre stands a good chance of adding to the number of Grade 1 N.H. races already won by his offspring.
"Willie Mullins has done particularly well with Lavirco's offspring with Mikael d'Haguenet being the best of the bunch so far after being successful in Grade 1 hurdles at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals back in 2009."
Zarkandar (Azamour) enhanced his claims for the Champion Hurdle, and for being the best son of Azamour over obstacles, when taking the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton for trainer Paul Nicholls who completed a hat-trick on the card and a five-timer on the day. The regally bred half-brother to Zarkava comes from one of the Aga-Khan's most notable families with Group 1 winners aplenty including Prix de Diane winner Zainta, herself the dam of another Grade 1 winning jumper Zaidpour, as well as South African mare Igugu and French Fifteen.
Azamour, who stands at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Ireland alongside Sea The Stars and Redoute's Choice, could also be represented at Cheltenham by the Colin Tizzard-trained Third Intention, who won the National Spirit Hurdle in 2012 and gave backers of Captain Conan a fright in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase, as he in entered in the RSA Chase on the Wednesday or could renew his rivalry with the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding in the Jewson Novices' Chase a day later.
Zaidpour himself couldn't quite manage to add to the five Graded race victories to his name when beaten into second by stablemate So Young (Lavirco) in the Grade 2 Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding was recording his biggest success to date and came just a week after his sire's Majala completed a hat-trick when taking the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick for Tom George. Willie Mullins has done particularly well with Lavirco's offspring with Mikael d'Haguenet being the best of the bunch so far after being successful in Grade 1 hurdles at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals back in 2009. The trainer also has the mare Tarla, who would probably be unbeaten in Ireland but for falling twice when seemingly in control of those races, and who holds two entries at Prestbury Park in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle and the Arkle Chase.
Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) returned to the track for the first time in eight months on Saturday and dismissed the opposition in the same way that she's done the majority of her winning in the past, taking up the lead shortly after the start and blitzing the other runners for pace from the front, even though she looks like she's barely exerting herself. In winning the newly-renamed Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington and recording win number 23, she completed a Group 1 double for her dam, the Desert Sun mare Helsinge, after her younger brother All Too Hard's success at Caulfield last Saturday. Royal Ascot in June has been mentioned as possible destinations for both and Black Caviar's trainer thinks he may have her back better than ever, though it is unlikely that they would meet in the same race. Moody has even said that in hindsight they may have run her in the wrong race last year and that the King's Stand Stakes over 5f could be her target as opposed to the 6f Golden Jubilee Stakes which she took in heart-stopping fashion, despite injuring herself during the race, when it was run as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012.