Cecil and Carson pleased with 400,000 guineas buy


"Fifty thousand, sixty, seventy thousand," rattles the auctioneer. "Sevenee, sevenee, sevenee," he adds before imploring: "He's a very fair price, you know." The horse walks around for three minutes and is then gone. Next.

Whatever you may think about the logic of paying that kind of "fair price" for an untried, untested animal for whom its odds against ever even setting foot on a racecourse, a fair price is what makes both buyer and seller do business - in short, what the market can stand. In this respect trading yearlings is no different from trading coffee, gold or canned mushy peas.

Legendary trainer Henry Cecil may as well have been in the City of London dealing in diamonds when he calculated that yesterday's joint top price of 400,000 guineas on the second day at Goffs Orby Sale was worth paying for the Hernando half brother to Alborada. Of course it was Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation that shelved out the money but his representative Willie Carson looked as pleased with the purchase as Cecil.

"I loved him," the former champion jockey decided. "We're looking for Derby horses now, not the Dr Fong type."

Cecil agreed, smiled at Carson and declared: "That's us finished. We can go home now."

However with widespread talk of world recession, the yearling market has become as uncertain as any other. Average prices for the Orby sale were down although considering the financial environment, Goffs managing director Philip Myerscough emphasised how well prices had turned out.

"We can't be entirely immune to a world recession but the sale has held up well. We're a bit off last year's figures but the good horses have sold well. There have been no one million guinea horses this year, so that makes an inroad.

"The reason for that is this year the horses clearly didn't appeal as much. Some of the better horses didn't physically match up to the pedigree and getting the right article, both physical and pedigree, is very difficult."

The other 400,000 guineas colt was by Barathea and bought by Sheikh Hamdan from Eimear Mulhern's Abbeville & Meadow Court Stud. Mulhearn acted as agent for the 600,000 guineas sales topper on the first day, also bought by the Sheikh. "He's a class horse with a smashing pedigree," judged Sheikh Hamdan's stud manager Hubie De Burgh.

The under-bidder for this colt was English agent Tim Bulwer-Long who was acting for Wafic Said. It was a spirited duel between the two camps and the ideal scenario for a seller.

Explaining his way of judging a horse, one Irish trainer went through a long list before concluding: "Ultimately it all comes down to opinion. If two people with resources have the same opinion, then a horse will sell for a lot of money."

Mind you, those who splashed out this week should bear in mind what the trainer considers the most important ingredient for success: "Luck."