AUCTIONEERS SELL BIG-MONEY HORSES AS PIPE BUYS TOP LOT KNOW THE SCORE
A sale of young racehorses at Cheltenham yesterday evening saw more than £3.7m turned over in two hours, highlighted when trainer David Pipe bid £380,000 for the top lot.
Racegoers who attended day one of The November Meeting flocked into the Tattersalls Ireland sales ring after racing for the annual November Sale, at which 41 horses were sold at an average price of £90,537.
Pipe's pick was Know The Score, a four-year-old son of Flemensfirth, and bought by Irish point-to-point trainer Sean Doyle at an auction in June last year for €55,000 when the horse was an unnamed, unbroken three-year-old. Doyle's aim was to train his new recruit to win a point-to-point in order to advertise the horse's ability to gallop and jump before taking him back to market. When he won on debut and in good style at Ballinaboola on Sunday he was booked on a transporter bound for Cheltenham.
Yesterday evening, bloodstock agent Tom Malone, who bought Finian's Oscar at the sale 12 months ago, joined forces with trainer Paul Nicholls to buy the gelding, but their efforts failed when Pipe offered the sum of £380,000. The buyer said Know The Score would race in the colours of the Angove Family, who own Poker Play, a runner in today's Martin & Co Jewellers Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Doyle said: "That's my biggest sale, but he's by far the best horse I've ever put a saddle on. He had size, scope, pedigree and an unbelievable attitude."
Another Irish pointer, Good Man Jim, was prepared in similar fashion but by County Wexford's Michael Goff, who saddled him to win at Dowth last month. The grey scored impressively that day, and yesterday made £360,000 to a bid from racehorse owner Roger Brookhouse, who said the horse's next trainer had yet to be decided.
Other buyers included J P McManus, who gained a French three-year-old called Unexcepted - a recent winner at Auteuil - for £200,000, while bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley bought several choice lots, including four-year-old pointer Lust For Glory (£240,000) and five-year-old point and bumper winner Gallaher's Cross (£260,000). Both will join Nicky Henderson to run for owners Mike Grech and Stuart Parkin.
After being involved in creating record turnover at Cheltenham's November Sale, Bromley described the event as a 'wow' sale, adding: "Performances on the track count, and this is the first proper sale of the Jumps season - and the first since May. There were a lot of people here for the best horses, and it was a vibrant market."
PRESS SIDES WITH FRY'S NEW DELIGHT
It is not often that a racehorse trainer finds himself splashed all over the Saturday papers in connection with a horse he has yet to saddle for a race.
That unusual scenario has played out today for Dorset handler Harry Fry, who runs Kylemore Lough, favourite for today's feature of Cheltenham's November Meeting, the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup. Press tipsters have flocked to side with the eight-year-old, whose career has included winning a point-to-point and a Grade One chase in Ireland for his former trainer, Kerry Lee.
'Fry's ready to Lough 'n roll' is a headline in The Sun alongside a Templegate column, while the Daily Mail's Sam Turner tips the horse in an article headlined 'Classy Fry's looking for even more'. 'Have a Fry-up' is the Daily Star's racing pull-out, front-page headline, above a column in which Patrick Weaver writes: ". . . the BetVictor Gold Cup has been inked in since he [Kylemore Lough] started showing brilliant form on the gallops."
Fry is well aware of his good fortune in being given the opportunity to train Kylemore Lough, and is hoping he proves some consolation for the sad loss of his untapped star Neon Wolf, who died in August. 'Fry hopes his new star can fill the shoes of Neon Wolf', is a headline in The Times, which carries an interview with the trainer by Mark Souster. In it he ponders his gain and Lee's loss, and tells Souster: "It is always a tricky situation, but we are in the business of training racehorses. With a horse of his calibre there was no hesitation, but the pressure is on us because he did very well for Kerry Lee."
Tully East is one rival who could give the favourite something to think about, and Newsboy of the Daily Mirror is one fan. 'Look East' is the headline above his big-race considerations, while Tom Segal, Pricewise of the Racing Post, opts for Aqua Dude. Ballyalton, who was bought by golfer Lee Westwood as a gift to his father, John, is the choice of Marcus Armytage in The Daily Telegraph.
Writing in the Racing Post, Lee Mottershead points out the scarcely believable fact that racehorse owner J P McManus has yet to win the BetVictor Gold Cup, even under its guises of Mackeson, Murphys, Thomas Pink or Paddy Power. Le Prezien, trained by Paul Nicholls, is McManus's hope today - other Mottershead investigations reveal Ireland has won today's feature just once since 1980, yet Martin and David Pipe have been successful nine times.
Yesterday's racing included a terrific second run over fences by Finian's Oscar, who by winning paid tribute to his late owner, Alan Potts, who died this week. Potts and bloodstock agent Tom Malone picked the horse out and bought him for £250,000 at Cheltenham's November Sale, one year ago yesterday. Bryan Cooper rode Finian's Oscar yesterday, and the pair are captured jumping a fence in style on the front page of The Sun's pull-out. 'Cooper Trooper' is the headline, while the Racing Post proclaims, 'Finian's scores emotional victory in Potts' colours'. 'Oscar remembers his lines' is the Daily Express take on the victory, and 'It's bravo Oscar for Tizzard' in the Daily Mirror.
Away from the racecourse, but with focus on an adjacent field, Thursday's Gloucestershire Echo revealed in a headline, 'New hotel could be built on Racecourse doorstep'. The paper says landowner Roger Hanks has submitted a planning application to build at Hunting Butts Farm, off Swindon Lane.
Of more general interest has been this week's disappointing news that last season's Racing Post Arkle Trophy Chase winner Altior is temporarily sidelined by a breathing issue which was operated on yesterday. The timing of the release of the news - bearing in mind Altior is a high-profile horse with big-race engagements - has become a point of controversy touched upon by several racing writers, including Greg Wood of The Guardian and James Burn of the Racing Post. They quote trainer Nicky Henderson from an ITV Racing interview carried out yesterday, in which he defended the way the news was released and said: "I am, to say the very least, extremely upset with some of the insinuations made."
Writing in i, reporter Jon Freeman reflects on a Jump season that is gathering pace, one very good example being the return of Faugheen, winner of the 2015 Unibet Champion Hurdle. Not seen in public for nearly two years, he runs in tomorrow's Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, where rivals will include his stablemate, Vroum Vroum Mag, and the 2014 Unibet Champion Hurdle winner Jezki.
The 2018 Cheltenham Festival in March will drip with talent, but it will be even richer if that trio - not least Faugheen - make it to the meeting.
VICONTE PRIMED FOR BETVICTOR GOLD CUP
Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father Colin, is hopeful of a good performance from Viconte Du Noyer in today's centrepiece on day two of The November Meeting, the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup (1.50pm).
The eight-year-old son of Martaline made a winning debut for Tizzard over three miles and three furlongs at this meeting last year and returned to form when a five-length second at Punchestown in May.
A creditable seventh on his reappearance at The Showcase Meeting last month, Tizzard expects the French-bred gelding to come on for that run.
"We stepped him up from two miles to three miles and three furlongs on his first start for us and that suited him as he was on a handy mark.
"He is a competitive horse. Last time he was travelling really well over three miles and never really got home.
"Bryan [Cooper, jockey] said that we should drop him back in trip, and he won't mind the rain either.
Viconte Du Noyer, like a host of other stable stars for the Tizzard's, runs in the colours of Alan Potts who sadly passed away earlier this week, just three months on from the death of his wife Ann. Tizzard paid tribute to the owner, commenting: "We had some great times with him. He was a strong character, but a generous man as well."
The Tizzards are also represented by West Approach in the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase (1.15pm), with the brother of King George winner Thistlecrack facing two rivals in the extended three-mile event. Tizzard added: "West Approach jumped really well at home and at Ffos Las he put it to bed nicely. He will certainly enjoy this rain."
Neil Mulholland runs Doing Fine in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (1.50pm) and is keen on the nine-year-old son of Presenting's chances in the extended three miles and three furlongs contest.
Third at the Showcase Meeting over three miles and one furlong, Mulholland is confident the step up in trip will help his charge, commenting: "Doing Fine ran well at Cheltenham in October and he should enjoy the longer trip in this event.
"We find holding him up suits his style of racing and he has been much more consistent ridden that way - we're hopeful of a good run."