Top Consignors Focus On Dirt-Breds For Goffs Dubai Breeze Up Sale

The demand for American dirt-bred horses for next month’s Goffs Dubai Breeze Up Sale has, according to Eddie O’Leary and Con Marnane, two titans of the game, provided consignors with a clear framework about what will and won’t ring buyers’ bells in the sales ring. 

While Tom Taaffe, the client relations agent at Goffs, described last year’s inaugural Dubai Breeze Up Sale as “a very good start,” there is a growing confidence among consignors that next month can be even better, with Marnane admitting to have ‘upped his game big time.’

The sale, which takes place on Mar. 21, will also feature a new name on the catalogue, with Shane Power of Tradewinds Stud offering a Yoshida (Jpn) colt that he and his partners in the horse sourced specifically for this sale. 

O’Leary sold both of his American-bred colts under his Lynn Lodge Stud banner at this sale last year and is back again with one by Collected and another by City Of Light, which he hopes will be a timely offering given the stallion sired G3 UAE Oaks winner Mimi Kakushi on Friday.

He said, “I thought last year’s sale provided everyone with a good platform to build on. We are bringing bigger and better dirt-bred horses in general this year which will suit their programme that bit better, so hopefully it works. 

“The programme in Dubai does not kick off until October onwards so there’s no point in bringing a sharp Showcasing (GB) colt thinking it will suit because it won’t. Their programme is all about good, big scopey dirt-bred horses who will come into their own next year. That’s what they want.”

He added, “Looking through the catalogue, you may as well be in Keeneland. We went to buy horses last year that we thought would suit Dubai and the programme that they have over there. We’ve two for the sale this year and one is by City Of Light. He’s the only City Of Light colt in the sale, which is great, because a City Of Light sired the winner of the UAE Oaks at Meydan on Friday. 

“Let’s hope this sale can build on last year. We’re bringing the horses that we think will suit the programme in Dubai and we hope that the trainers take the sale to heart. The horses are there on their doorstep and they don’t have to travel halfway around the world to go and buy them. Let’s see what happens.”

Tom Taaffe | Goffs 

Taaffe shares O’Leary’s optimism. Having seen a lot of the 73 catalogued horses in the flesh, he says that the physicals match up with the pedigrees and expects that to be reflected in the sales figures. 

“Most of these consignors are taking their best horses to this sale,” he said. “The catalogue is made up of roughly 85% dirt horses and there are some very good physicals and pedigrees in the sale. There are three tiers and we hope to cater for every type of buyer. I would be confident that we have gone up a gear from last year.

“I’m more than happy with the quality of the horses in the three tiers and the response that we are getting from the clientele that will be attending the sale from various different countries has been good.”

Reflecting on the inaugural Dubai Breeze Up Sale, he added, “As I said last year, it was a very good start. From the outside, people felt it was fabulous but, internally, I know in my own heart that there are things that we will all learn from. That includes the Dubai Racing Club, Goffs, vendors and purchasers. I think we’ve made a lot of progress in the year and hopefully we can see that in a month’s time.

“Most importantly, for a first sale, we already have 13 individual winners and these horses were predominantly bought to be more 3-year-olds and upwards types. So, at this stage, to have that many winners is fantastic, not to mention the Group 1-placed Labeling (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in Japan. For a small sale of 69 catalogued last year, that’s pretty good.”

One of those winners was a Night Of Thunder (Ire) colt, consigned by Marnane’s Bansha House Stables, who went on to be named Desert Man (GB) and scored impressively on the dirt in Saudi Arabia. 

However, Marnane has refined his approach to this year’s sale, and offers a Le Brivido (Fr) half-brother to G1 Dubai World Cup winner Prince Bishop (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and an Audible colt who is very much built for the dirt. 

Marnane said, “We’ve upped our game big time for this year’s sale. We’ve an incredible Audible colt. Goffs told us that we needed to bring American-bred horses that will handle the dirt, but we’ve a Le Brivido (Fr) going down there as well, and he’s a brother to Prince Bishop (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), who won the Dubai World Cup. You don’t get a better pedigree for Dubai than that.”

He added, “I’m bringing a nice grass horse and an American dirt horse. A racehorse is a racehorse and there’s loads of grass races in the Middle East and the American programme is now split 50-50 between the dirt and the turf as well. 

“Amy bought the Audible at Fasig-Tipton but sure the prices at the yearling sales in America were cuckoo. We had to up our game big time to buy a horse for this sale. The prize-money is so good in America that people can justify buying a yearling for what they are making over there. It was tough to buy them.

“The standard of horses that is coming through the breeze-ups is excellent. Proper horses. We’ve over 100 black-type and group horses sold and three Royal Ascot 2-year-olds as well. That’s fair going. We’ve been very lucky.”

And, with that sort of track record, the famous ‘Bansha Bullets’ phrase was coined. But, tell us Con, has it been hard getting used to preparing these bigger dirt-type horses for the breeze-ups compared to the lightning-quick 2-year-olds?

Con Marnane | Goffs

“By Jesus, these two are fast! But I’ll tell you one thing, hats off to Sheikh Mohommed, who looks after the staff who go down there very well. His generosity is fantastic. There has been good success from last year’s sale and it’s only going to get better.”

He added, “It’s a work in progress but Goffs did a wonderful job last year in getting the buyers there and I’ve no doubt that they will do the same again this time round. It’s a mammoth task, getting 69 horses on the plane out of Shannon down to a sale in Dubai and then for it to go well after that. You’ve got to take your hat off to them.”

Like O’Leary and Marnane, Power set out to buy an American dirt-bred horse, and explained why he wanted to be a part of the action in Dubai.

“It’s an interesting concept. It’s a new outlet for us and is totally different to what we are used to doing so it’s good to explore something different. I own the Yoshida colt in partnership with Jerry Horan, who bought him in Keeneland last year. Yoshida is obviously a Grade I winner on dirt and the market seemed to gravitate towards these big horses with dirt pedigrees last year. You need to bring a two-turn dirt horse and you definitely need something with a bit of size. This fella is just over 16hh, is a big scopey horse, so he should fit the bill physically and on pedigree as well. Hopefully it all comes together.”

He added, “My brother Alex was at this sale last year and said that a lot of the horses who sold well came up the middle of the track. Rather than coming up the rail, it looked more impressive if a horse could breeze straight up the middle of the track, so we’ve had that in the back of our minds in preparing this lad. 

“As well as that, this sale comes up pretty quickly after Christmas. You don’t have a lot of time from Christmas to the sale. They are big horses, so it’s a different sort of challenge in preparing them for a breeze. 

“While they don’t have to break the clock, and they can come up the track three-quarter pace, it’s been at the forefront of my mind to try and be a step ahead of where I needed to be with him, just because the sale comes up so quickly. 

“To be fair to the horse, he has a great appetite for feed and work, and he has been telling us all along that he can take the workload which was great because this was always the sale we wanted to go to with him.”

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