Classy cast-offs in demand at Newmarket

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The Independent Online

Looking for a nice little runner, sir? Low mileage, one careful owner? Then the Tattersalls equine auction ring has been the place to be this week. The emphasis in the elegant domed arena has shifted from the theatre of dreams of the yearling sales, where every transaction represents bright-eyed hope, to the reality show of the end-of-season business of cutting losses and cashing in.

The annual fixture in Newmarket is the biggest used-horse mart in the world and, as usual, the world was there, with more than 20 nations represented on the buyers' sheet. At the top of the leaderboard those from the mainstream racing cultures abroad – North America, the Gulf states, Hong Kong – fought with domestic jump trainers for the pick of the forecourt; at the other end the Greeks and Serbs mopped up the bangers. Some high-class, well-known performers have found new homes over the past four days. Sugar Ray, winner of the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute, is off to Dubai after setting a new under-the-hammer price record for a colt in training at 600,000gns. Others also heading for the rich pickings at Nad Al Sheba are Kalahari Gold (370,000gns), Lion Sands (220,000gns), Ask The Butler (200,000gns), Classic Blade (130,000gns), Monte Alto (120,000gns) and Conquest (130,000).

Top Lock (410,000gns) and Regime (200,000gns) will be plying their trade in Saudia Arabia, two-year-olds Prolific (230,000gns) and High Alert (225,000gns) in Hong Kong, and Meydan Princess (250,000gns) and Souter's Sister (150,000gns) in the States. The development of the Dubai carnival has boosted the market for top-end models (rated between 95 and 105), often at the expense of those seeking jumping recruits. Foremost among the future hurdlers was six-time Flat winner Master Of Arts, who made the transfer from Sir Mark Prescott to David Pipe for 310,000gns. The underbidder was Robbie Hennessy, Sublimity's new trainer, who also had a crack at Sugar Ray, but in the end had to be content with Donegal, for 200,000gns.

The cast-offs from Ballydoyle are always eagerly awaited; the pick of this year's rummage sale was Washington Irving, once touted as the best of Aidan O'Brien's middle-distance Classic hopes. His best effort was his fifth in the Derby, he finally broke his maiden at Navan 23 days ago and is now, at a cost of 300,000gns, with Howard Johnson. He will have a Cup campaign next Flat season before going hurdling.

Most of the above-named did well for their vendors, who had their fun and turned a profit. Two-year-old Jacamar cost the Coolmore partners 480,000gns a year ago but proved a talent-free zone (by Ballydoyle standards) and was let go for 12,000gns.

His stablemate Mikhail Fokine, last seen doing such a sterling job for Yeats in the Prix Royal-Oak five days ago, made 62,000gns. The buyer of both was Kazakh film director Ardak Amirkulov, whose horses are trained near Prague by his fellow-countryman Arslangirey Shavuyev. Amirkulov is famous in Kazakhstan for his work (the award-winning epic The Fall Of Otrar was his) and in these parts for providing the first Czech runner in the St Leger, when his Darsalam – a mere 6,500gns Tattersalls purchase – came sixth to Rule Of Law. Entries for the horses-in-training sale have to be made well in advance, and those reprieved included Honolulu, one of a three-pronged O'Brien attack on Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, with Septimus, the favourite, and Alessandro Volta.

Jane Chapple-Hyam's charge Yellowstone – acquired as a Ballydoyle reject a year ago in Newmarket for 520,000gns – is likely to recover from a minor injury in time for the Flemington showpiece; the participation of Godolphin's All The Good, who has a sore leg, is more in the balance. But with Luca Cumani-trained Mad Rush also a leading fancy, bookmakers make Europe odds-on to lift the Cup.

More immediately, Kauto Star arrived safely in Northern Ireland yesterday ahead of his seasonal debut in tomorrow's JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal. The ground is soft, with dry weather forecast.

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