Could Minella Premier one day reach the heights attained on the racecourse by Minella Indo and Minella Times?

Trainer Nicky Henderson certainly hopes so as he paid £400,000 on Wednesday to acquire the latest point-to-point winner from John Nallen's 'Minella' academy in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

Just over a fortnight ago Minella Premier made a winning debut at Ballindenisk point-to-point in Co Cork, scoring by a dozen lengths. The Shantou gelding, who cost €20,000 as a foal, was a late entry for this week's Goffs Spring Sale in Doncaster and duly topped Wednesday's session.

Related to high-class chasers Captain Chris and Function Dream, Minella Premier caught the interest of bidders Laura Morgan, Tom Malone and A.J. O'Neill - all of whom bid past £300,000 - but it was McGrath who prevailed at £400,000.

Henderson said: “Jerry’s known all about him for a while and we followed him into his point-to-point and out of his point-to-point. Everybody was impressed by him and he had a lot of ‘wow’ around him. He’s come here with that behind him and all the right people followed him into the ring.

“It’s great to see a horse make that sort of money. A really good horse with a real vibe around him is entitled to go and do that. He’s a beautiful horse. He’s for Oliver Harris. He’s got some smart novice hurdlers this year. We’ve had four for him this year and all four have won. They’re all proper horses and this one joins the portfolio with all the right credentials.”

It was a good day at the office for Nallen, a legend of the point-to-point field who famously had graduates Minella Indo and Minella Times win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season three years ago.

He also sold Minella Juke, a five-year-old son of Jukebox Jury who won on debut at Dromahane last month, to Dan Astbury and Gillian Johnston for £140,000; Minella Sixo, a five-year-old son of Shantou who scored on his first start at Loughrea this month, to Aidan O’Ryan and Pioneer Racing for £115,000; and Minella Post, a placed son of Champs Elysees, to Tom Gibney for £90,000.

A delighted Nallen said: “Minella Premier is the most impressive point-to-pointer we’ve ever produced. He’s by a good sire and he’s always been quality since we bought him as a foal. He’s done everything right.

“We just bring them along. If they keep taking it we run them, and if they don’t we give them another year. This fella took it well. We were confident when we took him to Ballindenisk. A man there asked me what I thought of him and I replied that I’d be afraid to tell him what I really thought. After the race he said ‘Ah, I think I know what you think of him now!’.

“I had plenty of offers before I came here with him. You’d be shocked by how much money I was prepared to take him home for. It’s a great result, though, and Nicky Henderson will improve him stones. He’ll be a proper two and half-mile horse at Cheltenham next March.”

The clearance rate for the session was just under 80% and the average price was £31,253, the median £20,000.

These statistics compared well with day one of the sale last year, when the clearance rate - from a smaller catalogue - was 84% and the average and media were identical to today.

Morgan goes again

Leicestershire trainer Laura Morgan sadly lost her stable star Notlongtillmay when the former Turners Novices’ Chase runner-up suffered a fatal fall at Kempton, but she and the late gelding’s owner Alan Rogers have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and tried to find another headline act.

They gave £220,000 for Dawn Miss, a five-year-old Malinas mare who came to the sale on the back of a 12-length victory between the flags at Dromahane for Sean Doyle, and £120,000 for I Ain’t Your Mate (Lot 455), a four-year-old Sea Moon gelding who had finished placed on both his starts at Monksgrange and Curraghmore for James and Ellen Doyle.

“Alan Rogers lost Notlongtillmay, one of the best horses we’ve had, and he wanted to try to find a horse to replace him, not that he’s really replaceable,” said Morgan.

“We just thought I Ain’t Your Mate had a lot of the qualities he had. He looked a bit green on his first and second runs in point-to-points, and the horses he beat looked good, so there’s the promise of plenty more to come.

“He has a good pedigree and is a nice model so he ticked all the boxes. He’ll go out to grass now and we’ll see where we are in the autumn with him.”

As for Dawn Miss, she added: “We’ve got pretty much all geldings, apart from Queens Wish, who we bought at the Goffs Punchestown Sale recently, and we thought it would be good to have a go at the mares’ programme.

“Fair play to Alan, he’s giving it a good go and it’s very exciting. He’s an ex=footballer and I think he’ll breed from the mares as a long-term aim.”

Dawn Run memories

Tony Mullins, regular rider of the legendary Dawn Run, fulfilled a long-held ambition to renew his relationship with the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup heroine’s family by purchasing Red Acres Georgie from Moate Stables for £100,000.

The four-year-old daughter of Order Of St George has been kept busy by Michael Goff in recent weeks, falling on debut at Stowlin on May 5th and breaking her maiden by 14 lengths a fortnight later.

Mullins reported: “I was very impressed with both her runs and I just love the pedigree. I know it’s a long time ago but it goes back – way, way back – to Dawn Run. I’ve been looking for a good filly from this family for many years and now I have one. It keeps coming up with good horses, recently Ballyburn.

“She’s a big, narrow filly but she’s only four years old, and running twice in the month of May and then arriving here she couldn’t help but look very light, so that doesn’t worry me in the least.”

Asked what he hoped he might achieve with Red Acres Georgie, Mullins said simply: “Win the Gold Cup!”

He added: “No, we’ll take her home and see what she is, but I remember my great mare from this family won over two and three miles, so it’s all to play for.”

Red Acres Georgie’s sixth dam Spring Awakening and Dawn Run’s granddam Early Light were half-sisters, both being out of the winning Bimco mare Broken Dawn.

Paul Nolan acquisition

Coumeenoole showed abundant promise when finishing strongly to win a five-year-old maiden point-to-point at Ballindenisk at the start of the month for Jonathan Fogarty and he sparked another bidding war in Doncaster today.

Gerry Hogan had the final say with a bid of £180,000 and revealed that the Harzand gelding will return to Ireland to continue his career.

“He’s been bought by Paul Nolan for an existing owner in the yard,” said the agent. “His winning performance was very good, and physically he’s a really nice horse, so we were anxious to get him and delighted that we did.

“He’ll go to grass for now and be brought back slowly for a winter campaign. We think he’s a serious horse to look forward to for the future.

“I’ve seen a few Harzands run in the past months, and he’s doing well. I like him. It’s another reason to be optimistic about Coumeenoole.”

The sale concludes on Thursday.