THE Irish store sale season kicked off at Tattersalls Ireland on Tuesday with the single-session May Store Sale.

Trade was quite selective and the clearance rate suffered as a result, but there were plenty of buyers on site to provide competition for the more sought-after lots.

A top price of €65,000 eclipsed the corresponding figure from last year and the clearance rate was 69% at the close of business. The aggregate amounted to €2,396,300, a drop on last year despite a bigger catalogue and more lots sold, while the average and median prices came in at €14,264 and €11,750 respectively.

“This sale provides vendors with the first opportunity to sell their three-year-olds and the demand for quality individuals remained strong,” Tattersalls Ireland CEO Simon Kerins said. “The footfall seen over the last two days was impressive and we extend our gratitude to the large contingent of Irish and British buyers who actively participated, alongside many first-time visitors who contributed to the bustling atmosphere at Fairyhouse.”

Bleahen pair

Niall Bleahen of Liss House is no stranger to selling both high-value and high-class horses, and he sold the day’s top two lots within a very productive 20-minute period. He received the day’s top price of €65,000 for the French-bred Kalao Coko, a son of Cokoriko. This gelding was the subject of plenty of interest but it was Jimmy Kelly, acting on behalf of the airport-bound Tom Malone, who lasted out for the son of the Martaline mare Opaline Song.

“I saw Kalao Coko yesterday and he is typical of one from the Bleahens; they buy and produce a beautiful horse,” Malone said by phone. “This is a racy, bumper type, a sharp type of horse. He is a lovely, scopey sort, has a nice bit of pedigree and is one for the future. I have just sold him to owner Gary Gillies and he will go pointing for a season with Jimmy before going into training with Jamie Snowden,” he added.

Bleahen was back in action a few minutes later with his only other offering, again another French-bred, which was knocked down to a partnership of Rob James and Dermot Considine for €50,000. By Nom de d’La, who is a full-brother to Nickname and a half-brother to No Risk At All, the gelding - already named Kicour La - will most likely head down the point-to-point route.

Rob James bought the smart Watch House Cross from Bleahen in this ring three years ago and is hoping for similar good luck with this purchase.

“We thought he was one of the nicest horses here and we decided to do our best to buy him and, thankfully, we did. We were hoping to get him a bit cheaper, but when you come across a nice horse like that you have to pull out a bit extra. The Bleahens usually have a nice horse at this sale,” James said.

Galway-based Bleahen, who along with his brother John, has become one of the top National Hunt store consignors and was very happy with his afternoon’s work.

“We try to bring a nice horse to this sale and, in fairness to Tattersalls, they have done a good job promoting it while Jamie Codd and the team have also selected a nice bunch of horses for the sale. These were two fine, athletic horses and it’s great to get our sales season off to a good start.”

‘I fell in love and wasn’t going home without him’

THE early pace at Tuesday’s sale was set by a son of dual Derby winner Harzand, bought by agent Tom Malone for €46,000.

Consigned by Clonsast Stud for Pat McCarthy, the gelding has a predominantly flat pedigree, being out of the High Chaparral mare Byrners Bid, with dual King’s Stand Stakes winner and sire Equiano featuring high up on the page.

Normally Malone works the sales on behalf of some of the top trainers and owners in racing but, on this occasion, he revealed that he had bought the gelding for himself. “When I went around the horses yesterday I fell in love with this lad, and I was not going home without him,” he said.

“He is just my type of horse, a beautiful specimen and his pedigree stands up too. There are enough good horses on the page. The Fast Company half-sister Fast Bid finished second in a Limerick maiden and was sold to the US and she has gone on to win three races and place 12 times,” Malone added.

Harzand began his stallion career at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud but was purchased by Con O’Keeffe to stand at his Kilbarry Lodge Stud in Waterford last year. Malone commented: “Harzand was a dual Derby winner so he has a chance. He hasn’t had that many runners over jumps so far. His first three-year-old jumps runners were in 2021-’22. He has had a couple of horses who have won a batch of races each which is a positive.”

Simonsig relation

The agent also struck later on for a half-sister to the Arkle winner Simonsig. The Getaway filly cost €40,000 and she is also a half-sister to the smart Nicky Henderson trained chaser Dusart who, like Simonsig, carries the colours of Ronnie Bartlett.

Diamond Boy, who stands alongside Harzand at Kilbarry Lodge, was responsible for another of the day’s top lots when a daughter of his was knocked down to Ian Ferguson for €40,000. From Heather Kemp’s Glebe Barn Stables, the filly is out of the Old Vic mare Jigs’n Reels who has bred four winners so far and is a half-sister to the brilliant Back In Front, twice a Grade 1 winner over hurdles for Edward O’Grady.

Ferguson also assisted in the purchase of the filly as a yearling for her vendor so knows her well. After signing the docket he said: “I’ve bought her for Mark McCausland and she will go to France to be trained by Louisa Carberry. She is a lovely, athletic filly and the sire is starting to make a name for himself. I saw her in the spring and thought she had done well. I think she would have sold well at any sale, but she was a bit of a stand-out today.”

Another filly to reach the €40,000 mark was a daughter of Vadamos from Stone Lodge Stud. She is out of the listed-placed four-time winner Princess Tara and was knocked down to Cormac Farrell.

Wexford point-to-point trainer Denis Murphy began the re-stocking season by purchasing a well-bred Jet Away filly for €36,000. From Woodhouse Stud, she is a full-sister to the bumper winner Cool Jet who has since relocated from Ireland to America where he won for the second time at Percy Warner Park last weekend to boost his earnings to just under $100,000.

The filly’s dam Cool Trix is a half-sister to Cousin Vinny, who landed the Grade 1 Cheltenham/Punchestown Bumper double in 2008, and Murphy is keen to continue his successful association with the stallion. “I have had four by Jet Away,” he said. “Three have won first time out and the other was second. I like the sire and he has been lucky for me. This filly has a pedigree. I didn’t think I’d have to spend that much on her, but I loved her,” he added.