The Tattersalls Ireland Deby Sale got off to a flying start on Wednesday when Harold Kirk paid €255,000 for Defi Bleu, an unraced son of Saddler Maker. Willie Mullins will train the three-year-old.
"He is a very good-looking horse, and by a stallion who upgrades his mares - he is one of the few who does that," said Kirk. "He cost more than we thought, but he has a good page and is one of the nicest here."
Kirk knows a thing or two about the sire - he bought one of the deceased stallion's best Apple's Jade, this spring's two-time Grade 1 winner, privately in France. Aiden Murphy was also keen to buy and batted back Kirk's bids once the rest of the field dropped away, but Kirk quietly prevailed, standing by the entrance.
The gelding is a half-brother to talented runner Upsilon Bleu and from the family of Edredon Bleu. He was sold by the Bleahen family's Lakefield Farm, consignor of the 2015 Derby Sale top lot - a son of Robin Des Champs who fetched €320,000. He was also purchased by Kirk and has had one run in a bumper.
In total on Wednesday,15 horses made six-figure sums, a big increase on the six to achieve such a mark on day one in 2015, and just one less than the whole two-day sale last year. The day one session also returned strong and improved figures with a record breaking average of €47,859, an improvement of 14% while the aggregate showed a 20% improvement to €7,131,000.
Grand National winning trainer Mouse Morris also saw off Aiden Murphy for a bay gelding by Robin Des Champs (Lot 195), who was sold by Busherstown for €250,000.
Morris and Murphy were equally determined to buy the horse, with Morris on the telephone. In the end the trainer prevailed and as he signed the docket, with his customary smoke near to hand, Morris laughed: "He is a lovely horse, he needs to be lucky now!"
The March-born gelding is the first foal out of three-time winner Present Gesture (Presenting) who won two bumpers. She is an own-sister and part-sister to two black-type runners.
It is the great National Hunt family of Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman and the sale was a superb pinhook for Busherstown – the gelding was bought here as a foal in 2013 for €34,000.
Just five lots earlier, Mags O’Toole on behalf of trainer Gordon Elliot, bought Dream Conti, a Walshtown Stables-consigned son of Lauro (Lot 191). He is a half-brother to Bello Conti, who was twice fourth this year in Grade 1 Novice Hurdles and the first runner out of the dam Posterite (Video Rock).
Two lots in early trading fetched €155,000 each. One was a Flemensfirth half-brother to Punchestown Grade 1 winner One Track Mind, who was sold to trainer Colm Murphy for €155,000. "I loved him, he's a pure athlete, he has been bought for Mr and Mrs Potts," said Murphy. "The mare has done it - he has the page and he's looks the real thing himself."
Aiden Murphy paid the same price for a son of Flemensfirth sold by consignor Ballincurrig House Stud. He is out of J'Y Viens, a half-sister to J'Y Vole, the winner of eight races, including the Dr P.J. Moriarty Chase.
Earlier a Shantou half-brother to Gold Cup hero Kicking King was sold to Anna Ross for €100,000. He was sold by Sunnyhill Stud, breeder of Kicking King.
"He is all quality and for a big horse he is light on his feet," said Ross. "He is staying in Ireland and might not go into training for a year. With a good sire and as a half-brother to a Gold Cup winner, what's not to like!"
Underbidders were Colin and Joe Tizzard.
The sale continues on Thursday and Friday.
FULL DERBY SALE REPORT, RESULTS & MARKET REACTION IN THE IRISH FIELD THIS WEEKEND