Trainer Gordon Elliott added strength to his stable with some big-money buys at yesterday's Tattersalls Cheltenham November Sale held at the racecourse.
Recruiting four-year-olds who had shown early ability in Irish point-to-points, Elliott brought the hammer down with a £330,000 offer for Ballyadam, £255,000 for Fiston Des Issards and £125,000 for the filly Queens Brook.
Elliott, whose stable star Tiger Roll had a successful procedure earlier in the day to remove a bone chip from his knee, could not reveal the names of the clients he had acted for, but said of Ballyadam: "He's been given a good rating and the video of his win was very impressive. He galloped right through to the line. He's an exciting prospect. I've bought him for an existing client in the yard."
Ballyadam - whose half-brother Legal Eyes was a recent winner for Ben Pauling's Gloucestershire stable - hacked up in impressive fashion at Portrush in County Antrim last month for a local trainer, Colin McKeever, who handled the horse for owner Wilson Dennison. It was a similar tale for the Colin Bowe-trained Fiston Des Issards, who scored at Loughanmore on his debut having been bought in May last year as an unbroken three-year-old for £28,000.
Queens Brook had been bought for €25,000 at Tattersalls Derby Sale when an unbroken three-year-old by trainer Aidan Fitzgerald and his friend Enda McDonagh. The four-year-old filly was a half-sister to high-class staying chaser Shotgun Paddy, who was placed at the Cheltenham Festival in the National Hunt Chase.
Tattersalls had moved the start of the sale forward to a start time of 1pm, after it had originally been scheduled to take place after the Countryside Day card which was called off following heavy rain. The sale is traditionally packed with racegoers who stay on to view the sales ring action, and it was standing room only despite the loss of the day's racing.
An average price of nearly £100,000 was evidence of the popularity of young jumping horses, and turnover came in just under £3m was achieved as 45 horses came on the market. Thirty-two found a buyer, or 71 per cent.
Other notable purchases included Yousayitbest, a four-year-old Irish pointer who scored at Moig South two weeks ago for trainer Cian Hughes. Bloodstock agent Alex Elliott bought this one for an undisclosed Irish yard, while Gabynako, who finished second to Yousayitbest, was sold to Skybet Champion Hurdle winning trainer Gavin Cromwell for £130,000.
Trainer Warren Ewing, a brother-in-law of top jockey Barry Geraghty, also enjoyed a profitable sale when trading the filly Brave Way for £160,000. He had bought her for £10,000 18 months ago at a sale in Doncaster. Commenting on the transition from relatively cheap filly to a six-figure star, Ewing said: "She just needed to develop, but we bought a lovely-moving filly. From the time we got her home she just grew and grew."
Brave Way won a point at Knockinroe, who headed Uptown Lady. She too went on the market yesterday, and was sold for £150,000 to Gloucestershire trainer Jonjo O'Neill
At the sale's conclusion, Matt Prior, Tattersalls' Head of Cheltenham Sales, revealed plans for a January Sale at Cheltenham but in a new location - the owners' and trainers' marquee on Festival Trials Day, Saturday, January 25.
He added: "We now look forward to the Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale which takes place on Friday, December 13."
Another cracking card in prospect on Sunday
The £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Hurdle (3.00pm) is the centrepiece of Sunday's card at Cheltenham tomorrow, which has been boosted by the transferral of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase from Friday.
Welsh Champion Hurdle winner Monsieur Lecoq heads the sponsor's betting for the Greatwood at 4/1, with dual course and distance winner Benny's Bridge now second best in their list at 6/1, having been favourite earlier in the week.
Monsieur Lecoq provides Lizzie Kelly with her second major opportunity of the weekend, for she returns from a broken arm today to partner the strongly-fancied Siruh Du Lac, also trained by her stepfather Nick Williams, in the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup.
French-trained top weight Urgent De Gregaine, one of two runners being saddled by Emmanuel Clayeux, is favourite at around 3/1 for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (1.15pm), in which a field of 10 also includes 2017 winner Kingswell Theatre and fellow course and distance winner Fact Of The Matter. Unusually, there are no Irish-trained runners.
It's quality over quantity in the £75,000 G2 Shloer Chase (2.25pm), in which 2019 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase second Politologue returns from wind surgery against dual Festival winner Defi Du Seuil, three-time Shloer runner-up Simply Ned, and Saint Calvados, who has been switched here after being declared at the 48-hour stage with top weight in the BetVictor Gold Cup.
A strong supporting card sees a return clash between Al Dancer and Getaway Trump, first and third respectively here at the Showcase, in the Racing Post #responsiblegambling Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase (1.50pm), and prolific early-season winner Pacify, owned by the Duchess Of Cornwall, taking on four smart rivals in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle (3.30pm).
All but the first and last races will be shown live in an extended broadcast by ITV4.