WITH a quarter of the 40 lots offered failing to sell, the recent edition of the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale just failed to reach the heights of last year’s sale, but the average and median were within 2% of matching the comparative numbers from 12 months ago.

Seven lots reached the magic six-figure level, down from 11 a year before, but this time the top lot realised £250,000, some £40,000 in advance of the top price paid last year. That was for Weveallbeencaught who won his Newbury bumper five weeks later, was third to Hermes Allen on his hurdling debut in a Grade 2 race at Cheltenham, and, on New Year’s Day, won his maiden hurdle, again at Prestbury Park.

Wingmen got the Tattersalls Cheltenham 2023 sales season off to a flying start, selling for a sale record price of £250,000 in the latest edition of the event. The session also achieved a new high average price of £80,200.

The Kayf Tara five-year-old gelding was only having a day away from home as it transpired. He was an impressive 12-length winner of a Ballycrystal maiden six days earlier when ridden by Rob James for trainer Gordon Elliott and the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate. He will now return to Elliott’s Cullentra House Stables.

“He is a very nice horse, and Gordon thinks a lot of him,” said buyer Eddie O’Leary about the wildcard entry. “He is a big raw horse, you won’t begin to see the best of him until next year. He has been bought on behalf of Bective Stud.” The Co Meath stud is owned by Noel and Valerie Moran.

Bred by Cathal Ennis, Wingmen is out of the winning Flemensfirth mare Raise You Five and is a dual Tattersalls Ireland graduate. He was initially purchased as a foal at the November National Hunt Sale by Timmy Hillman for €47,000, who then consigned the gelding under his Castledillon Stud banner at the 2021 Derby Sale where he was bought by Mags O’Toole for €88,000.

Lisa Hales, who was bidding on behalf of her father John, went to £190,000 to buy the Blue Bresil five-year-old gelding Sao Carlos, a Market Rasen bumper winner on December 26th for trainer Olly Murphy. That was the gelding’s sole start to date. Sao Carlos is out of the winning King’s Theatre mare Valleyofthedolls, and he is a half-brother to the Grade 2 Aintree bumper winner Diamond Sal, the listed-winning hurdler and Grade 2-placed chaser Ring The Boss, and an own-brother to Theatre Girl, who was a listed bumper winner and Grade 2 placed over hurdles.

Alex Ferguson

“She will probably be for Dad, Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and John Driver, the same syndicate that owns Hermes Allen,” reported Hales, who added: “This horse has got an amazing walk, an amazing presence.

“He is substantial and looks like a chaser for the future, and that is what we like. In fact, I backed him when he ran and before I knew he was coming here; I thought he put in a great run then.”

Michael Hickey of Sunnyhill Stud admitted he had not trained a winner for 10 years until Magic Dawn won a bumper for him at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, on just her second career start. She did so in impressive fashion, being eased down at the line. Bred by Hickey from the farm’s family of the Gold Cup winner Kicking King, Magic Dawn is a six-year-old mare by the stud’s resident stallion Doyen.

She is out of the unraced Gamut mare Magic Maze, whose three runners so far are all winners and are headed by Magic Dawn’s full-sister Magic Daze, a Grade 2 winner over fences and placed in the Grade 2 Dawn Run Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival two years ago.

“Magic Dawn is a gorgeous mare, she has great presence, is a great walker and has a magic temperament,” said Hickey. “She needed her first run, but four winners came out of that race, and then she won very well on her second start. I think she has a huge future.

Too valuable

“The intention was to race her and, if she won a little race, cover her and keep her for breeding. However, we started to train her and she was showing that bit extra. When she won she just became too valuable for us to keep; we do have to balance the books!” Hickey has plenty of representatives from the family at home, and the dam Magic Maze is in foal to Blue Bresil.

Mouse O’Ryan, who went to £185,000 to secure Magic Dawn on behalf of KTDA Racing who have horses in training with Gordon Elliott, said: “She couldn’t have been more impressive when she won, and the family speaks for itself. We will be aiming her for something like the Aintree bumper.”

Another big price for a mare was achieved with the sale for £150,000 of Sanda Rena. This five-year-old daughter of Getaway won her only start in a Borris House point-to-point before Christmas and will now join Ben Pauling after she was knocked down to Highflyer Bloodstock’s Tessa Greatrex. The sale was a handsome profit for Doyle as the mare was bought for just €13,500.