The Grey Panel


Top hurdling filly ELIMAY tops HIT session of Autumn Sale

The opening session of the 2017 Autumn Sale was dominated by National Hunt fillies and Hubert Barbe’s Horse Racing Advisory, with the two highest-priced lots sharing these traits. The market proved strong and in line with vendors’ expectations throughout the day, as evidenced by the 86% clearance rate, an improved score from 2016. However, the lower number of Wild Card entries and highly commercial profiles resulted in figures not being able to match the year-on-year comparison. Turnover for the day was €4,385,200 for 180 sold, an average price of €24,362.

Trio of classy NH fillies to Horse Racing Advisory

Carlos and Yann Lerner's three-year-old filly ELIMAY (lot 239) stood out from the publication of the catalogue as one of the best performers over jumps: she boasted a victory at Auteuil on her second start over hurdles, followed by a 3rd place in the Gr.3 Prix Sagan and a pair of seconds in Listed events, both at the hands of subsequent three-year-old Champion filly Whetstone. Her profile gained even further appeal after she ran a close 2nd in the Gr.3 Prix Bournosienne, yet again behind Whetstone. The beautiful grey quickly brought bidding past six figures and it was left for Hubert Barbe and Charlie Swan to do battle against Anthony Bromley, with both parties standing at opposite ends of the sales pavilion. Hubert Barbe signed the docket at a session-topping €310,000 and expressed relief to have secured the daughter of Montmartre.

The bidding team of Barbe and Swan had made their presence felt from an early stage, securing Christiane Head-Maarek’s FREE (lot 189) for €125,000. The daughter of Mr Sydney boasted the rare distinction of being a half-sister to two Group 1 winners in Criterium de Saint-Cloud scorer FULL OF GOLD and dual Gr.1-winning miler FUISSE. Their dam Funny Feerie was a Listed winner over hurdles at Auteuil and the whole family has showed talent as well as versatility with classy hurdlers Spanish Wells and Funny King also on the page. FREE herself has been restricted to the flat so far, winning at Chantilly over the classic trip and filling the runner-up spot on two occasions from only five starts. “She looks a nice jumping prospect”, commented Charlie Swan after signing the docket. “She has good size and form, my only question mark would be about how her sire’s offspring will adapt over jumps. We haven't decided on a trainer yet.”

The duo ended their shopping spree with the purchase of the top class four-year-old hurdler DALILA DU SEUIL (lot 265) for €210,000. The filly was bred and campaigned by the Boudot family, including leading jockey Pierre-Charles who was on hand to see the grey go through the ring. She won a pair of Listed events over two miles at Auteuil and took a commendable 4th in the Gr.1 Prix Renaud du Vivier behind Francois Nicolle's champion DE BON COEUR after the catalogue was printed. “This was the maximum we could go”, sighed Hubert Barbe. “She is a very nice mare who has a lot of speed. She will now switch to fences and should make a lovely two-mile chaser for the future”.

ACROBATE Qatar-bound for €202,000

The winner of his last three starts including two after the catalogue came out, Wertheimer et Frère's ACROBATE (lot 203) was always going to attract a lot of interest and the glossy bay sparked a protracted bidding duel between Gérard Larrieu of Chantilly Bloodstock Agency and an undisclosed bidder acting over the phone to Freddy Powell. A son of Oasis Dream out of the Gr.2 winner Balladeuse, the gelding has done nothing but improve this year, stepping up from a mark of 87 last month to a whopping 95 on the back of his hat-trick. Larrieu eventually sealed the deal with an unusual bid of €202,000 for the son of Oasis Dream and commented: “He is for Sheail Al Kuwari and will go to Qatar to be trained by Nassim Ghazali. We were supposed to pay €150,000 for him but you know how it happens at auction. There are not many like him in the catalogue and he is a very attractive horse.”

Promising hurdler OISTRAKH LE NOIR bought by De Burgh Equine to transfer Stateside

Australian-born Will Johnson, who joined De Burgh Equine in September following a long period as assistant trainer to Roger Varian, made his first foray into the French market when offering €160,000 to secure Wild Card entry OISTRAKH LE NOIR (lot 205), a recent winner on only his second start over hurdles. The son of Kentucky Dynamite was offered by trainer Donatien Sourdeau de Beauregard. “He is for a long-standing American client and will go hurdling over there,” said Johnson. “He is an interesting type with a good move and I’ve had luck with a previous European import over jumps in America so let's hope this one can follow suit.”

€150K ENRICHISSANT to chase further riches for David Bridgwater

Richard Venn had to go to €150,000 to take home ENRICHISSANT (lot 269), a three-year-old gelding by the little-known Speedmaster who boasted two places from three runs to date, all on the flat. The athletic AQPS is a half-brother to a pair of highly talented fillies who both won flat Group races restricted to this breed. Enrichissant himself is entered in the Prix Jacques de Vienne, which has been tagged as the "AQPS's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe" and is labelled as a Gr.1. Bred by François and Elizabeth Doumen's Haras d'Ecouves, the bay will now leave the yard of David Windrif in Maisons-Laffitte for Gloucestershire and the stable of David Bridgwater. I went to see him in Maisons-Laffitte and really liked him,” said Venn. “He is a beautiful strong horse and hopefully will keep going in the right direction. He will race for Simon Hunt and Gary Lambton, the same connections as The Giant Bolster.”

€140K Wild Card entry EDEN FLIGHT to join Willie Mullins

Three-year-old AQPS gelding EDEN FLIGHT (lot 230) turned many heads when making a winning debut in a provincial bumper last month, which caused the Patrice Quinton trainee to be added to the Autumn Sale as a Wild Card. The son of Great Pretender was notably coveted by Joffret Huet and Harold Kirk but it was the latter, bidding alongside Pierre Boulard, who ultimately signed the docket at €140,000. “We've been lucky with Great Pretender before, buying horses such as Great Field,” commented Kirk. “This one looks a proper horse who showed pace and stamina when winning his bumper very easily. Added Boulard: the vet was very happy with him as he is a horse with a very loose action. And we were pretty happy with the price!”

Mandore scoops half-sister to Gr.1 winners Full Of Gold and Fuisse for €110,000

The first lot to break the six-figure mark when selling to Mandore International for €110,000 was the year-younger half-sister to the aforementioned FREE, also offered by Chantilly-based Christiane Head-Maarek. A daughter of Motivator, FUTURA (lot 97) was unraced when the catalogue came out but made a very decent debut in a newcomers event at Saint-Cloud ten days prior to the sale. “I have bought her for my family,” commented Watrigant. “She is a very special offering being a half-sister to two Group 1 winners and she could also have some ability of her own. She will go into training with my brother Damien and race on as a three-year-old before retiring to the paddock.”

The sale continues tomorrow with National Hunt yearlings from 1:00pm

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