THE Goffs December NH Sale continued the trend where trade is rock solid at the top end but quite a struggle from the mid-level down as the major buyers and pin-hookers redouble their focus on trying to acquire the high-end stock, putting their faith in a select number of sires in the process.

After four days of trade the turnover of €8,201,950 represented a 6% drop on last year’s figure which was achieved with a smaller catalogue, while the clearance rate also dropped from 70% last year to 59% this week.

The average of €17,564 came in just a fraction below that of 2022 but the median price rose 9% to €12,000. The sale topper came from the broodmare section on Thursday when the ex-Henry de Bromhead trained Zarkareva sold to the Mariga family’s Coolmara Stables for €240,000.

A dual winner in the Robcour silks including in the Grade 3 Buck House Novice Chase, the seven-year-old Zarkareva, a daughter of Authorized was sold on Thursday by Ballyreddin & Busherstown in foal to leading French stallion No Risk At All and hails from a famous Aga Khan family that features stars such as Zarkandar, Zarak and Zarkava.

“We all saw what No Risk At All can do in the sales ring this week, siring the highest-priced NH foal this year and he’s a sire we really like,” Coolmara’s Cathal Mariga said. “She’s by Authorized and I am a big fan of him as a sire. We used his son Santiago for some of our mares and we sold one earlier this week for €43,000.

“She is a lovely mare with a great Aga Khan pedigree and a champion on the page so hopefully she is lucky for us. We’re developing a nice band of mares on the farm and added two flat mares this year so we will have 30 mares to foal in the spring, so we’re looking for more staff,” he added.

It was a sweet result for the vendors and Katie Rudd, who along with John Dwan comprises Ballyreddin & Busherstown, explained: “I’m over the moon. I bought Zarkareva privately out of training and sent her to No Risk At All. I’ve a real soft spot for the sire. I was quietly optimistic before she went into the ring that she would sell well as she’s a beautiful mare, with size, scope and a fantastic temperament. She’s gone to a great home in Coolmara. Hopefully I can buy a foal out of her someday!”

Rudd’s partnership with Dwan is a relatively new enterprise and she added: “It’s gotten off to a great start, so long may it continue. The year has been brilliant. A lot of the thinking behind the amalgamation was so that we could go to France and target those two-year-old sales. There is a good pedigree behind a lot of those good horses in France and, quite often, they are a different type to what we have over here.”

Just before they offered the sale topper the Ballyreddin & Busherstown team also had a good result with lot 860, Delightfantastic, who was bought by Hamish Macauley for €80,000. In foal to Golden Horn, this hurdles winner is a half-sister to two very smart types in Captain Teague and Sky Pirate with the promise of more to come from the former who won a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Chepstow in October.

Foundation broodmare

Multiple graded chase winner Scarlet And Dove has all the hallmarks of a foundation broodmare and she sold to Mount Armstrong Kildare for €200,000.

Offered as lot 844 by Gigginstown House Stud for whom she won seven times when trained by Joseph O’Brien, the eight-year-old was sold in foal to Crystal Ocean and her page also features a top class hurdler in Our Conor under the second dam.

Justin and Jackie Owens are the team behind Mount Armstrong Kildare and they said: “She’s a queen of a mare, a great model, and she’s in foal to a promising sire. We’re very happy to get her.

“We haven’t done a mating plan for this mare yet, we’ll get her home and make a decision, but all options are open to her. We’re based in Mount Armstrong Stud outside of Clane which is Noel O’Callaghan’s old farm. If we can do half as well as he’s done, we’ll be delighted!

“We’ve a mixture of flat and jump mares and we’re aiming to keep it commercial, so we’re trying to add a few quality foundation mares that will get us going. We bought Shattered Love here a couple of years ago. She has a Crystal Ocean filly on the ground and she’s back in foal to Walk In The Park. It’s hard to go anywhere else given the way he is going.”

Robcour say goodbye to fine mares

BRIAN Acheson offered his own draft of Robcour mares on Thursday through Sladagh Farm and these were headed by lot 851, Say Goodbye, who sold to Peter Molony for €90,000. The daughter of Getaway won four times for Acheson and trainer Gordon Elliott, including a listed hurdle in America earlier this year, and possesses a stout pedigree being a half-sister to Kildisart from the family of Rathvinden.

Lot 849 Gin On Lime was a six-time winner in the Robcour silks including in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice Chase and this daughter of Doctor Dino was also bought by Mount Armstrong Kildare for €75,000.

Meanwhile Jenny Flex, lot 850, a Walk In The Park half-sister to the above-mentioned Scarlet And Dove also sold well when bought by Peria Stud for €62,000.

The same price was given by Clontenty Farm for lot 858, Lady Breffni. Tinnakill House offered this Grade 2 winning hurdler in foal to Blue Bresil.

No knocking No Risk

THE focus was on foals for the first three and a half days, and while veteran Coolmore stallion Walk In The Park very much dominated the upper end, he was usurped by French stallion No Risk At All who provided the highest priced foal.

A packed ring ahead of lot 605 making his way in suggested big things were expected of the Galbertstown Stud offered colt and he did not disappoint when selling to Charles Shanahan for €120,000.

The first foal out of Hidden Harmony, herself a daughter of the high-class Shirley Caspar, is from a family replete with talented staying chasers such as Thunder And Roses and Wrath Of Titans and a return to a sale ring in a few years time is in store for him.

“He was the standout foal here today for us and he has been bought for Ciaran Conroy,” Shanahan said. “All the right people were on him and he has been bought to resell so hopefully he continues to go the right way.”

The foal was sold by Pa Doyle on behalf of breeder Sean Ronan, and Doyle said: “This is one of the nicest foals I’ve ever prepped. Everyone is well aware what the sire is capable of and he’s out of a Kayf Tara mare, from a family that we’ve known for a long time.

“He’s a very smart horse and has gone to a very good home. I’m firmly of the opinion that there’s another big day in this horse, whether that be in a sales ring or on the track, but he’s definitely a racehorse.

Big supporter

“The breeder Sean Ronan has been a big supporter of ours and we actually sold a Walk In The Park colt for €100,000 on his behalf at this sale last year. He deserves all of the success he is getting, as he’s putting it in, so it’s great to see him being rewarded.”

Lot 157A was supplemented for the sale recently by Baroda Stud’s David Cox and that decision was vindicated when the colt by Walk In The Park sold to Dick and JJ Frisby for €110,000. The January born foal is out of a smart race-mare in Sparky May who won a Grade 2 hurdle but who has since surpassed her racecourse exploits in the breeding shed by producing this year’s Grade 1 Golden Miller Chase winner Stage Star who more recently produced a huge weight carrying performance to win the Paddy Power Gold Cup back at Cheltenham last month.

“The stars aligned recently with Stage Star winning and with Walk In The Park foals selling so well we thought it made sense to supplement him for this sale,” David Cox said.

Demand for foals by the sire of Jonbon and Facile Vega was relentless, and on Wednesday Gerry Aherne and Charles Shanahan went to €90,000 to acquire lot 294. Offered by Ballincurrig House Stud on behalf of Cathal Ennis’ Quill Farm, the colt is out of the dual winning blacktype King’s Theatre mare Appy Days who is a full-sister to the high-class Royal Alphabet.

“He is a quality foal and has a smashing temperament,” Ennis said afterwards. “I was a bit worried that he was a June foal and that it might be a bit much for him but he never turned a hair and I’m delighted he is going to a good home in Coolmore.

“I prepped him myself at home and Michael [Moore] and his team in Ballincurrig have done a grand job with him here. The mare is promising, she has a Getaway three-year-old that is highly thought of and hopefully this foal will be lucky for his new connections,” Ennis added.

Lit up the ring

Two lots later another foal by the sire lit up the ring when selling to Kevin and Anna Ross for €80,000. Lot 296 is out of the Jeremy mare Ard Abhainn who was an effective operator on the track winning a listed hurdle at Thurles and this was her second produce.

“He’s a lovely, quality foal by Walk In The Park and has loads of scope,” Anna Ross said of the Castlefarm Stud offered foal. “He comes from a nice family and the sire is obviously going well on the track, so he made a lot of sense. He’s been bought as a pin-hooking project for Chris Jones, so he will go back to Killeen Glebe now and hopefully make his way back here as a three-year-old,” she added.

The Tally-Ho Stud team has done well with their select number of National Hunt pinhooks over the last few years and the O’Callaghans kept it simple when buying lot 543 for €88,000. This son of Walk In The Park out of the Presenting mare Forever Present was consigned by the Motherways’ Yellowford & Drumlin on behalf of Sally Aston of Goldford Stud ,and the relation to triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate was bought for resale.

Good model

“He is a very nice horse, a really good model and I liked him. He will come back to Tally-Ho for the next couple of years and be offered for resale as a store. He has a good pedigree and the stallion is doing well,” Tony O’Callaghan said.

Sally Aston lost her husband Richard earlier this year and was understandably emotional afterwards, and said: “We are absolutely delighted and for him to make that price is just unbelievable, it’s exceeded our expectations.” She continued: “He’s owned by a long-standing client of ours, Martin Lightbody, who keeps a few fillies to race and likes to sell the odd colt. Martin has been with us from the very beginning, so it makes it all the more poignant.

“The mare has been living at Conor Cashman’s because she foaled and then when my husband, Richard, became very ill, we sent her over here and they’ve done such a wonderful job with both the mare and this foal. This foal is a beauty and his dam is a lovely mare.”

Another noted pinhooker, Jimmy Murphy of Redpender Stud, went to €82,000 for lot 557, a Walk In The Park son of the listed winning hurdler Getaway Gorgeous.

Joe Rodgers, who also bred the mare, offered the foal through his Ballintry Stud, and after signing the docket the successful buyer, Jimmy Murphy, said, “He is a good foal out of a very good race-mare with a lovely pedigree so we will hope for the best.”

Molony plays both cards

EARLY on Tuesday Peter Molony struck for lot 226, a son of Walk In The Park from Jimmy and Eileen Furlong’s Thistletown Stud for €70,000.

The June foal is out of the Shirocco mare Valjan who is a half-sister to Champion Hurdle and Triumph Hurdle winner Katchit as well as Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Miracle Seeker.

Peter Molony then swapped hats to act as consignor of lot 381, a daughter of Crystal Ocean that sold to Nicky Bertran De Balanda’s NBB Racing for €62,000.

Molony sold the daughter of very smart race-mare Cap Soleil on behalf of Cyril Crowe and Mags Melody of Ballykilty Farm and the trade represented a very decent return on investment given Molony’s Rathmore Stud had purchased Cap Soleil carrying this foal at Goffs UK in January for £75,000.

“It’s been a quick turnaround, but she’s a lovely filly and we’re delighted with that price,” Cyril Crowe said afterwards.

“We had a good foal sale last year and we were keen to improve the calibre of mare that we have and take it up a level. Given the selective nature of the market, you really need to have those quality mares.

“We had found ourselves getting well paid for good colts, but even our good fillies were only bringing in their stud fee, so we wanted to get ourselves a mare that we could get paid for a filly too.

“When Cap Soleil came up for sale in January, we asked Peter to have a look at her and he approved, so he bought her for us. We’ll have five mares to cover next year, so it’s a great result,” Crowe added.

Crystal Ocean was also the sire of lot 406, a colt that sold to Kieran Shields for €50,000. This transaction concluded a good day for Jimmy Mangan’s Conna Stud as the Cork trainer and breeder had earlier saddled Spillane’s Tower to win a novice chase in the colours of J.P. McManus at Punchestown.

George makes presence felt

Fellow Coolmore stallion Order Of St George made his presence felt when Joey Logan bought lot 462 for €52,000. Offered by Caroline Berry, the colt is out of Darlana, a full-sister to the brilliant hurdler Darlan.

Just before this, another Order Of St George foal proved popular when lot 458, a well related colt from Cleaboy Stud & Coppice Farm sold to White Horse Stud for €50,000.

The colt out of Dancingwithbubbles is a half-brother to the high class pair of Captain Teague and Sky Pirate and a grandson of Grade 1 winner Kate’s Charm.

A filly, lot 652, by French stallion Nirvana Du Berlais will be making her way back to France after selling to Nicky Bertran De Balanda for €75,000. The Clonmult Farm consigned foal is out of Kadika who has bred two winners from three runners so far. James Sheehan of Clonmult Farm also had the distinction of selling a half-sister to the brilliant Shishkin to Nelius O’Keeffe for €62,000.

Lot 687 is by the all-conquering Blue Bresil and in addition to producing one of the stars of the last five years, the filly’s dam Labarynth is also a half-sister to the Grade 1 winning hurdler Voler La Vedette.