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Despite competing against the Olympics for the past fortnight, racing came out fighting with a packed week of racing and sales action.
Following another Super Saturday from world athletes at 2012, Ballydoyle’s Aidan O’Brien enjoyed his own Sensational Sunday when claiming Group 1 glory in two countries a little over an hour apart. The first saw Excelebration provide his sire Exceed And Excel with a seventh top-flight win, justifying favouritism to land the Jacques le Marois, a second Group 1 title for the recent Coolmore purchase following his Prix du Moulin victory last September. Scheduled jockey Ryan Moore was unlucky to miss the ride after a fall earlier that afternoon, but deputising Christophe Soumillon ensured the four-year-old proved what a force he is to be reckoned with in his own right, stepping out from behind Frankel’s shadow to defeat perhaps the strongest field seen over a mile this season; not only was every contender proven at Group level, nine of the 11 already had a Group 1 title to their name, including last year’s winner Immortal Verse.
Just over an hour later O’Brien had more cause for celebration in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, though at the time it may have been clouded by concern after his son Joseph, on board the Ballydoyle favourite Cristoforo Colombo, took a tumble when his mount clipped heels a furlong out. It was stablemate Pedro The Great who came through to land the title under Seamie Heffernan, earning his freshman sire Henrythenavigator a first top-flight win at the earliest opportunity for European offspring. Bought at Tattersalls Book One sale last year, the American-bred is a half-sibling to both the dam of Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Power, and Guineas hero of the Newmarket variety Footstepsinthesand, sire of Sunday’s Swedish Derby runner-up Funinthesand.
O’Brien’s representative in the next race failed to earn the trainer a Group-race hat-trick however, as the returning Starspangledbanner was unable to make an impact in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes. The son of Choisir returned to training earlier this year after fertility problems curtailed his stud career; connections stated prior to the race that he would likely come on for the run, so may yet return to form and mimic the likes of Kingsgate Native and George Washington.
Mayson, winner of the Group 1 July Cup two years after Starspangledbanner, will stand at Cheveley Park Stud from 2013. The stud, who also stand Medicean, Pivotal, Kyllachy, Dutch Art and Virtual, have purchased a majority share in the son of Invincible Spirit, who is likely to have his next start in the Haydock Sprint Cup.
Juddmonte’s Dansili continued his current purple patch with a Group double at the Curragh on Sunday. The unwaveringly consistent Famous Name, who has only failed to make the frame on four occasions in 36 starts, earned a much deserved Group 2 win in the Royal Whip Stakes when getting the better of odds-on favourite Born To Sea, before Fire Lily fought strongly to claim the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes by half a length from Gordon Lord Byron.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world it was announced that Dansili’s Goodwood Cup-winning son Illustrious Blue would be standing at Ridgeview Park in Australia for the coming season, commanding a A$6,600 fee.
There was also good news just across the water in New Zealand for the connections of 2,000 Guineas and Jacques le Marois winner Makfi after the sire’s first southern hemisphere foal arrived just nine days into the new season. The filly is a fifth foal for her dam Primera Dama (Danzero), with Don Mackinnon, owner of Blackridge Park where the pair are boarding, quoting online that she ‘has a great shoulder on her and is extremely well put together, not a bad start at all!’ A photo of the new arrival is also available on the website for Westbury Stud, where Makfi has returned ahead of his second season.
DBS once again enjoyed promising returns following the conclusion of their August Sale last week. The two day event, a mix of horses in training and youngsters from both the Flat and National Hunt sectors, saw trade up on all fronts, including a 9.4% rise in aggregate to £1,804,700. £140,000 was added to the pot following Tom Malone’s sale-topping bid to secure Irish Point-to-Pointer Clondaw Knight (Heron Island) in the first session, whilst Anna Ross went to almost half that on day two when spending £68,000 on the five-year-old Deep Trouble (Shantou) as a chasing prospect. The positives continued on reflection of the average and median, which at £8,240 and £4,500 had risen 21% and 12.5% respectively.
As one sale concluded another began, this time at Tattersalls Ireland for their August National Hunt Sale, where despite a reduction in catalogue size, a positive turn in figures was seen following the two day sale. Virtuel d’Oudon (Network), claimed the top spot when knocked down to Peter and Ross Doyle Bloodstock for €52,000, followed the second day by a three-year-old son of the late King’s Theatre, who cost Margaret O’Toole €45,000. The €1,868,650 aggregate represented a 9.4% rise from the last renewal, while the median jumped a massive 34% to €3,750 and the average rose 17% to €5802.
Earlier in the week a second session surge ensured Fasig-Tipton’s Yearling Sale at Saratoga posted better figures than expected following a quiet opening night, though a decline in aggregate, average and median was still seen across the board. The sale topper, Wait No More, fetched $1,575,000 on the second day, one of three seven-figure purchases. By Medaglia d’Oro, the filly was signed for by Todd Pletcher, with whom she had been boarding and who also trained her multiple Grade 1-winning dam Wait A While (Maria’s Mon). The $32,000,000 aggregate fell 2.7% from last year, whilst the average and median dropped to $299,065 and $225,000 respectively.