SOLID trade was the hallmark of the opening session of the Tattersalls February Sale on Thursday.

Minus any lots from Shadwell, who sold 10 lots last year that included the top two offerings, and a significantly smaller consignment from Godolphin, it was always on the cards that the comparative figures would suffer. Nonetheless, three lots sold for 100,000gns or more, with the group-winning mare Now Or Never realising 250,000gns.

The top-priced lot was knocked down to BBA Ireland’s Michael Donohoe, and she had much to recommend her. This classic- and Group 1-placed daughter of Bushranger attracted interest from a large group of bidders, including Baroda Stud’s David Cox, Avenue Bloodstock’s Mark McStay, and Tally-Ho Stud’s Tony O’Callaghan.

A 10-year-old, Now Or Never won the Group 2 Rose of Kingston Stakes at Flemington in Australia, and the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. She also placed in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas. She is a half-sister to the two-time Group 1 winner Fairyland, and their dam Queenofthefairies is a half-sister to the Group 1 July Cup winner Dream Ahead. She was consigned by Tweenhills Farm and Stud and offered in foal to the 2000 Guineas winner Kameko.

“She is for an existing client, she will be foaled down in Ireland and then we can decide what to do with her,” reported Donohoe. “She might be covered southern hemisphere time or could head to Australia. My client has mares in Europe and Australia, so can look at options. She was obviously a high-class race filly herself, and is from a proper fast family. Her late cover [June 3rd] and the fact that she missed a year might be the reason why she has not made quite what she might have; hopefully she might be a bit of value.”

Sire options

Asked about stallion options, Donohoe added: “With her pedigree she could go to any stallion; she is an outcross. She is a good type and a strong mare, physically she will suit most stallions. She is a neat mare. We will probably breed her back to speed; she had plenty of speed herself even though she stayed a mile.”

O’Donohue was also to the fore later in the day when he spent 85,000gns on one of the wildcard entries. This was Baroda Stud’s Dansili mare Pure Nature, in foal to Mehmas. The six-year-old won three times for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, is from a well-known Niarchos family, and is a half-sister to the stakes winner Ghostwatch and the stakes-placed Forever Be, both by Dubawi.

Bloodstock agent Hugo Merry, buying on behalf of Blue Diamond Stud, purchased the six-year-old Queenhope privately for 140,000gns, after she was unsold in the ring at 120,000gns. The winning Kendargent mare is a full-sister to Group 3 winner Kenhope who was runner-up in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. Consigned through Tom Blain’s Barton Sales, Queenhope was sold in foal New Bay.

Merry said: “This mare is a complete outcross and will be very easy to mate. We have seen her Galiway yearling at Barton Stud and she is a very, very good first foal. Queenhope is a very commercial mare, and I know the family well through my client Dr Poonawalla. Blue Diamond was keen to buy into this Grey Sovereign line. It is so hard to buy interesting pedigrees now, and ones that are a complete outcross.

Flame Of Tara

“This family also goes back to Pat O’Kelly’s wonderful Flame Of Tara line. Physically, Queenhope is correct and she has plenty of room to carry a good foal, but really it is the quality of her first foal that really sold her to us. She is carrying to New Bay now and he is a €75,000 cover.”

Barton Sales consigned a two-year-old colt by Galileo, offered on behalf of Lady Ogden, and he was purchased by the father and son team of Con and Neil Sands under their Bronsan Racing banner for 140,000gns, using the services of Tattersalls’ Jason Singh. They secured the colt after a determined battle with underbidder Tony O’Callaghan. The colt is a half-brother to five winners, including the dual Group 1 winner Amazing Maria who won the Falmouth Stakes and Prix Rothschild for the late Sir Robert Ogden.

Neil Sands said: “My father, who is the principal of our team, has had this type of horse as a target for a long time. We are really delighted to have been able to close out at the price we did; he could have made double that in Book 1! We have a fantastic network of helpers and Hubie de Burgh of de Burgh Equine assisted us with this purchase. The plan is to get him home; we have great trust in Irish trainers. We have a good body of our stable with Joseph O’Brien, and we will make a plan over the next few weeks. We are very excited to add him to our stable.

The dream

“We have horses in training in Australia and Britain, though the majority are in training in Ireland. We also have a couple of National Hunt prospects, and we are excited about them for the coming season and are looking ahead to Cheltenham, but the primary focus for us is flat racing. We have about 40 horses in training, horses both owned in partnerships and fully by ourselves. The dream for this horse is for him to become a top racehorse and then a stallion prospect. You have got to have that dream, but sometimes we can all be afraid to dream!”

Matt Coleman of Stroud Coleman Bloodstock struck the winning bid for the four-year-old Lope De Vega filly, Moon De Vega offered from the Jamie Railton consignment. The hammer fell at 98,000gns for the Ralph Beckett-trained winner who was considered worthy of lining up for the Oaks at Epsom. The agent said: “She has been bought as a broodmare for a British breeder; she will be bred commercially. She was a very smart racehorse and has a great back pedigree. Lope De Vega and Azamour [the damsire] are two broodmare sires I really like. I think she has a lot of quality, and is a good walker.”