THE hugely anticipated Sceptre sessions of the Tattersalls December Sale certainly delivered, and especially the Tuesday edition.

Monday’s smaller version produced a high of 800,00gns and four lots that made half a million or more, but 29 reached that mark on Tuesday, and 11 realised a million or more.

Expected to be the star of the sale, the €40,000 foal buy Alcohol Free did not disappoint, and there was no room to spare in the sale ring as she entered the ring.

The battle for ownership of the multiple Group 1 winning daughter of No Nay Never boiled down to a shootout between Michael Donohue of BBA Ireland and MV Magnier, and Ollie Fowlston’s gavel fell at 5,400,000gns, the second highest-price ever for a horse sold at auction in Europe.

Most surprise was felt when Donohue revealed the immediate plan for Alcohol Free. He said: “She is for a partnership to race in Australia; she vetted extremely well and clean for a filly with some miles on the clock. My vet was super happy with her. She is for partnership who have horses in training and breed as well. There is a lot of money to win in Australia – I think 87 races for this year worth a million plus, so we hope to recoup a lot of what we paid for her and add a bit more, too.

“She is a filly with speed for six furlongs but stayed a mile, so there will be a lot of options for her. Andrew Balding and the team did a great job; she looked very fresh. She will make a lovely broodmare in time, she has the physique and the pedigree. It is a family I know well as I bought the dam for Yulong Investments last year, and she has a lovely Lope De Vega foal at foot and is in foal to Lucky Vega.”

Donohue added: “She will probably race for a season and then be covered, and we will probably send her to Frankel. So we will decide whether we will cover on northern or southern hemisphere time, but obviously Frankel is an exceptional sire and is doing it in both hemispheres.

Collectors’ items

“These blue hen fillies who come off the track, they are collectors’ items. They don’t come on the market often, they are like a Picassos. If they do come to a sale, you just have to value them, and we had a figure in our head. I suppose I was bidding pretty strong, so I guess it indicated there was a bit more petrol in the tank.”

David Bowe, stud manager of owner Jeff Smith’s Littleton Stud, said: “We are delighted, it is the end of a wonderful, wonderful journey that we have been on, a wonderful dream. If it had been five years earlier we might not have brought her to the sale ring. We have enough broodmares, she was not bred by us, but it is really to do with the timescale.

“I can’t thank everyone enough, and for everyone who put their hands up in the ring; it was lovely. It has been emotional. Jeff was not here tonight, but it is all down to him, he let us buy her, let us all get involved in the whole dream. I am absolutely delighted, it is beautiful end to our chapter, and I wish the new connections all the luck.”

Alcohol Free is the winner of four Group 1 races as a two, three and four-year-old. She was bred by Tom and Marie Gaffney at Churchtown House Stud, bought by Littleton Stud as a foal for €40,000, raced by Jeff Smith and trained by Andrew Balding. She won the Cheveley Park Stakes on her third start, the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at three, and then arguably ran the race of her life to win the July Stakes.

Gan Teorainn

An Irish phrase that translates as without limitation, the two-year-old Saxon Warrior filly Gan Teorainn was another on Michael Donohue’s shopping list. The Naas maiden winner and Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac runner-up is also heading to Australia to continue her career.

“She is a big two-year-old. What she did for a big filly was extraordinary,” said Donohue. “She vetted very well, and she can have a bit of time to acclimatise and we can decide on a trainer. We will play it by ear. Saxon Warrior, we feel, has the making of a top-class, classic-type sire. She will be a nice miler or mile and a quarter filly, and has a pedigree to improve as she goes further.

“The Australian market is very strong and it is very important to the industry in England, Ireland and Europe; the racing and prize money is so strong. With the prize money level where it is in the UK, the Australian market is important to breeders and sellers”

Another significant purchase by BBA Ireland’s Donohue, who spent 14,567,000gns on 39 lots, was the stakes-winning Sea The Stars mare French Dressing. The dam of Royal Ascot Group 3 winner Mohaafeth is carrying a full-sibling to that runner by Frankel.

Strong competition for prized lots

COMPETITION was strong at the top of the market this week, and there were eight different buying entities for the 11 lots that brought seven-figure sums.

One very happy lady on Tuesday evening was Jane Chapple-Hyam. She has handled the career of the two-time Group 1 winner Saffron Beach, and that daughter of New Bay returned to her own stable, she stays in training, and has next February’s Saudi Cup as her target. She was purchased by Najd Stud for 3,600,000gns.

“I am thrilled and very excited, it is a big honour,” said Chapple-Hyam. “We have got a good winter to look forward. I think going around the ring she was waiting for the saddle. I believe she will get the nine furlongs in Saudi; never know about the surface, but we will give it a go.”

Saffron Beach was led up by two handlers. The bidding opened up 500,000gns, and ended up in a battle between Badgers Bloodstock, who pulled up at 2.9 million, the Northern Farm representatives and Najd Stud. The Japanese answered every bid quickly, but eventually gave best to Najd Stud. The filly raced for the Sangster family and James Wigan.

Saad Al Mishriff, the representative of Najd Stud, said: “She will go to the Saudi Cup; Inshallah she will win it! She has good breeding from the dam’s side to act on the dirt, and we like her physically. We thought she would not make that much.” The daughter of New Bay was bred by China Horse Club and was another value purchase as a foal, costing 55,000gns.

Second to Mother Earth in the 1000 Guineas, beaten a length, she gained her revenge on the classic winner when an impressive three-length winner of the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes. At four, she won again at the highest level in the Prix Rothschild. She is from the immediate family of Cotai Glory.

Godolphin’s expensive half an hour

IN the space of less than half an hour, Godolphin spent 4,525,000gns on three lots, but they reduced their bill when selling 63 lots for in excess of three million guineas.

Heading their list of purchases was Tranquil Lady, Anthony Stroud forced to 2,700,000gns for the daughter of Australia. A dual Group 3 winner, she is a half-sister to the multiple Group/Grade 1 winner and new Rathbarry Stud stallion State Of Rest.

“She is a really nice filly. She can either go into training or go to see Dubawi,” said Stroud. “We will discuss it and will come to a plan, and obviously if she goes into training it will be with Charlie [Appleby]. We will see where we are at, there is more racing in her; she is only three.”

Bred by Dermot and Meta Cantillon’s Tinnakill Bloodstock, she was owned by Teme Valley Racing, having been purchased by Richard Ryan as a yearling, and trained by Joseph O’Brien. “It was a bittersweet situation really,” said Ryan. “It’s so hard to acquire something at this level, with these credentials, that clean, that sound, and her best year is next year. But we knew there was an incredible desire at this moment, and you don’t know how long those windows stay open.

Pretty brave

“We were pretty brave to quite a long way ourselves to make sure she wasn’t going to be undersold, and Joseph had a team very keen to try to retain her, but this is a fabulous result. There’s a lot more to come from her.” Earlier this year it was revealed that Juddmonte had acquired the dam of the filly, Repose, for their broodmare band.

Godolphin’s other acquisitions were consecutive lots sold by Newsells Park Stud as part of the dispersal of Normandie Stud. They paid 1,400,000gns for Kingman’s daughter Love Is You, the listed winner and Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes-placed half-sister to the multiple Group 2 winner Glorious Journey. The siblings are out of Fallen For You, winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.

Stroud said: “She’s a beautiful mare from a wonderful family nurtured by Mrs [Philippa] Cooper. We had luck with Glorious Journey. She should be a good fit for Dubawi [sire of Glorious Journey]. It’s nice and a privilege to buy one off a breeder who has been in the game for 25 years.”

Love Is You was sold in foal for the first time to St Mark’s Basilica, and is due in mid-January.

Derby is still the Holy Grail for Coolmore

DESERT Berry, the Green Desert the dam of this year’s Group 1 Derby winner Desert Crown, sold to MV Magnier for 1,900,000gns. She was sold by Gary Robinson’s Strawberry Fields Stud.

Speaking after the purchase, Magnier said: “At the end of the day she has bred a Derby winner and, from our point of view, the Derby is everything, the most important stallion-making race, the Holy Grail of racing. She has bred a Derby winner, is carrying a full-sibling to a Derby winner, she is a very good mare.

“We have no plans as yet, but there are a lot of stallions that we could pick, any of the sons of Galileo. There are plenty of options. I heard that Desert Crown is in good form and is going to run next year.”

A delighted Gary Robinson said: “Merry Christmas! We are going to have a good party in a minute, job done! Definitely it is a problem losing one like that, but we have all the family behind. It is like losing a beautiful woman; they leave you but she has left me with her children! She has done well for us and the new owner can go on and create those family lines.

“She is a good mare and she will have a great home and great life. She has gone to proper home. They will look after her. I did tell everyone that I would breed the Derby winner, and they did not listen. I told John Oxx, and he sent me a message saying that I had said so!”

Lovely Jumbly

Magnier combined with trainer, and winning bidder, Joseph O’Brien to secure the Group 3-winning Gleneagles filly Jumbly, and she will now continue her racing career in Ireland.

Bred and raced by Emily Rothschild, trained by Roger and Harry Charlton and consigned by Barton Sales, Jumbly has not run since she won her group race at Ascot in July. Since then her half-brother Epictetus, trained by the Gosdens, was runner-up in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity at Doncaster, and is now in winter quarters ahead of a classic campaign in 2023.

Jumbly and Epictetus are among the first five foals, all winners, out of the Selkirk mare Thistle Bird. She gained the most important of her eight wins in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Thistle Bird was sold, carrying Epictetus, for 750,000gns to George Strawbridge.

A family double at

the Sceptre Sessions

VILLE De Grace, whose dam topped the first day of the December Sale, was bought by Lordship Stud for 2,000,000gns. She was signed for by One Agency, and Tom Harris, son of Trevor Harris of Lordship Stud, chatted after the purchase.

He said: “We loved her; she was our pick of the sale. Beautiful, athletic, a very good race filly, and she is an outcross, so she can be mated to all of the top stallions. It is very difficult to buy in this market. As owner breeders we are trying to invest in new blood for the farm, and something like her to come and breed for us is a long-term plan, and an investment in the future.

“We are over the moon. It was a little bit more than we were initially going to pay, but it is so competitive and you go so far selecting the ones you like. She is a very easy mare to look at! We saw her maybe three or four times. She is a beautiful and if the foals are as good looking and as athletic, then we will be happy.”

Consignor Jenny Norris said: “It has been amazing, we had so many views, all the right people are here. All credit to Hunscote Stud. They bred her, raced her and had the courage of their convictions, and she has rewarded their efforts.” Andy Lloyd of Hunscote Stud added: “I am thrilled, and we can keep in touch and go and see her and give her a pat. I am sure Trevor will have big mating plans, which will only help our family.”

On Monday, Hunscote Stud bought out their partner, Chris Humber, in Ville De Grace’s dam. Archangel Gabriel, an unraced own-sister to Grade 1 winner Prince Arch, was also offered from Norris Bloodstock, carrying to St Mark’s Basilica. The hammer fell at 800,000gns.

Race fillies in huge demand

WILDCARD entry The Platinum Queen, a daughter of Cotai Glory, will ultimately head to Japan following her sale to by Katsumi Yoshida for 1,200,000gns. She was sold by Middleham Park Racing from Musley Bank Stables.

Northern Farm’s Shingo Hashimoto said: “We haven’t decided yet, but there is a possibility that she will race on. She can’t race in Japan, so if she’s going to race she’ll stay in Europe. She’s one of the best two-year-olds in the world, so she’s very attractive. With her speed she might suit a stallion like Lord Kanaloa.”

The Platinum Queen won three times before she ran a blinder in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes behind Highfield Princess. She then became the first two-year-old to win the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye since Sigy in 1978.

A pair of Paddy Twomey’s star fillies traded at 1,000,000gns each. La Petite Coco sold to Wertheimer et Frere and this daughter of Ruler Of The World won the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes. Bred by Bernd and Ute Schone, they sold her to Team Valor after she finished fourth in a Naas maiden as a three-year-old. The filly also finished third in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, behind Arc de Triomphe winner Alpinista and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Tuesday.

A million

Set to stay in training is Rosscarbery, who was knocked down to Charlie Gordon Watson for a million. The Group 3 winner, a daughter of Sea The Stars, was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, beaten only a neck.

A third filly from Twomey’s yard, the Group 1 Matron Stakes winner Pearl’s Galore, was the week’s most notable vendor buyback at 2,100,000gns, while the stable’s Rumbles Of Thunder failed to sell at 580,000gns.

One of the best stories of the week concerned the Davison family at Killarkin Stud. Jack Davison has campaigned his parent’s, John and Paula, Dandy Man filly Mooneista fearlessly, and they have been rewarded with victories in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh and the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas. She missed out by half a length on third place in the summer’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, and she sold to Kia Ora Stud for 850,000gns.

Record books are rewritten

UNDERSTANDABLY, Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony was delighted, if a little lost for superlatives, at the conclusion of the sale on Thursday.

“Every so often we experience sales at Tattersalls which defy all expectations, but in 2022 it is probably fair to say that each successive sale here at Park Paddocks has achieved levels of trade which even the most optimistic observers would have deemed unlikely, culminating in a Tattersalls December Mares Sale which at times has been truly astonishing,” he commented.

“There can be no doubt that the eagerly anticipated inaugural Sceptre Sessions have added a new dimension. When we launched the sessions back in the summer our goal was to create a format which would allow us to showcase elite fillies and mares to the global audience which defines the Tattersalls December Sale. The response from breeders and consignors to the new initiative was overwhelmingly positive.

“This was widely recognised as an exceptional catalogue, but we could not have predicted the extraordinary atmosphere which enveloped Park Paddocks throughout a sale which has seen the record books completely rewritten. Turnover, average and median have all soared past the previous record levels, and to see the packed sale ring as the succession of outstanding fillies and mares took to the stage will live long in the memories of all those present.

Incredible support

“The huge number of overseas buyers here at Park Paddocks for the duration of the December Sale reflects the incredible support we have received from the vendors who entrusted us with such an illustrious cast of race fillies and broodmares.

“Every one of the 11 fillies and mares who sold for one million guineas or more was special. While the individual highlights will leave lasting memories, we must express our deep gratitude to all who have made 2022 such an extraordinary year at Tattersalls.

“Sale after sale has attracted buyers from all over the world in overwhelming numbers, and we are enormously grateful for the support we receive from purchasers and vendors alike, all of whom have contributed to a year which has seen our annual turnover exceed 400 million guineas, comfortably exceeding the previous high of 331 million guineas set in 2017.”