Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has made a splash at the opening day of the Tattersalls December Mare Sale in Britain, going to 4 million guineas to secure Oaks winner Dancing Rain, who is in foal to Frankel.
The price of 4 million guineas – equivalent to £4.2 million ($US6.9m; $NZ8.3m; $A7.5m) – is the second highest price for a broodmare at auction in Europe.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and constitutional monarch of Dubai, and the husband of FEI president Princess Haya.
He is a major figure in international horse racing and breeding, and his racing operations include the ownership of Darley Stables. He is the leading partner in his family’s Godolphin Stables, and hosts the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.
Dancing Rain, a daughter of Danehill Dancer out of Rain Flower (Indian Ridge) is the only Oaks winner carrying her first foal to be offered at public auction in the past 50 years.
Badger’s Bloodstock’s Grant Pritchard-Gordon opening the bidding at 2 million guineas before Highflyer Bloodstock’s David Minton chimed in along with Pinar Araci, daughter of Ibrahim Araci. As the price rose, Araci, who was sat alongside bloodstock advisor Rob Speers bid 3.9 million before John Ferguson, bloodstock adviser for Sheikh Mohammed, came in with his first bid at 4 million guineas to secure the mare.
“It really was a no-brainer,” said Ferguson outside the packed sales ring.
“Sheikh Mohammed has not bought a lot of mares in the recent years, but at the end of the day Sheikh Mohammed felt that, to use the old phrase, she really did tick all the boxes – she is an Oaks winner from the family of a Derby winner.
“This game is all about reducing the odds and give you the greatest chance of producing a Classic winner – buying Dancing Rain is a way of reducing those odds.
“You can have lots of mares, but you need the jewels – Sheikh Mohammed felt that she is a jewel.
“On paper she looks the part, but there were two things in particular that I loved about her. First, she is such a beautiful mare, then second I had supper with William and Maureen Haggas at the weekend and they told me what a straightforward pleasure she was to train.
“And we haven’t even got to the fact that she is in-foal to Frankel!”
Bred in Ireland by Swettenham Stud, an Australian breeding operation owned by the Sangster family, Dancing Rain was foaled at Camas Park Stud in Tipperary. She was bought as a yearling by Liam Norris and William Huntingdon for €200,000 for brothers Martin and Lee Taylor, for whom Norris manages Clairemont Stud in Hampshire.
Dancing Rain’s third dam, Rose of Jericho (Alleged), is the dam of Derby winner Dr Devious.
She raced in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Japan, and was the unanticipated winner of the 2011 Epsom Oaks and won the Preis der Diana in the later part of her three-year-old season. Her four-year-old season was plagued with injury and she did not run in a race until late October 2012. She was retired at the end of the year.
Flaxman Stables’ Alan Cooper signed for the second top price when he went to 960,000 guineas to secure the Group 2 Challenge Stakes winner Fiesolana. The daughter of Aussie Rules was bought in 2011 as a breeze-up filly by Federico Barberini for €35,000 and consigned here by Ballyphilip Stud on behalf of Geraldine Regan.
The only other lot on the opening day offered in foal to Frankel was the Kingmambo mare Drops who was consigned from The Castlebridge Consignment. The four-year-old mare is a daughter of the Oaks winning filly Alexandrova and was knocked down to Charlie Mason’s Silfield Bloodstock for 750,000 guineas.
A total of 203 lots were sold for 18,693,000 guineas, a rise of 64% on 2012, whilst the average and median also both jumped up significantly by 51% and 40% to 92,084 guineas and 42,000 guineas respectively.