Britain’s group races for two-year-olds were shared among a total of 31 youngsters in 2017, around half of whom were auction purchases. The 16 who went through the ring were a diverse group, both in terms of the amount they were sold for, and the sales from which they were purchased.
The median price of these future group winners was £80,000. Here are the half-dozen who cost the most:
Elarqam (1,600,000 guineas)
Juliet Capulet (€235,000)
Roaring Lion ($160,000)
All of these changed hands as yearlings with the exception of Ghaiyyath who went through the ring as a foal. Elarqam, who won both his starts, including the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket, owed his seven-figure price in no small part to having the classic winners Frankel and Attraction as his sire and dam.
Attraction, whose Group 1 wins included the Coronation Stakes, besides the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Curragh, had already produced six winners at stud before Elarqam, including the Group 3 Sapphire Stakes winner Fountain of Youth. Bought by Angus Gold on behalf of Shadwell Stud, Elarqam was among a trio from the 16 two-year-olds in this survey who was catalogued in Book 1 of Tattersalls’ October Yearling Sale.
Ghaiyyath won a maiden on the same card as Elarqam’s Newmarket win before looking a classic prospect himself when following up in the Autumn Stakes over the same course and distance. Ghaiyyath can also boast Guineas-winning parents, Irish Guineas winners in his case, as he’s by Dubawi out of Nightime who earned fame as Galileo’s very first Group 1 winner in the 2006 Irish 1000 Guineas. Nightime’s five-year-old daughter Zhukova won the Man o’ War Stakes at Belmont in May 2017, though that was some time after Ghaiyyath had set a record price for a colt foal in Ireland when selling to John Ferguson, then of Godolphin, in November 2015.
Champagne Stakes winner Seahenge and Royal Lodge Stakes winner Roaring Lion, who went on to be placed in the Dewhurst Stakes and Racing Post Trophy respectively, are both graduates of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale. Seahenge is from the family of Van Nistelrooy who was a Group 2-winning two-year-old himself for Aidan O’Brien earlier this century, though much of Seahenge’s appeal resides in his sire Scat Daddy who will have his final crop of two-year-olds this year. Another M V Magnier purchase at the same sale was the sale-topping son of Scat Daddy, bought for three million dollars. Named Mendelssohn, he finished a place in front of Seahenge when second in the Dewhurst before going on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Roaring Lion’s sire Kitten’s Joy is another US-based stallion with a growing reputation in Europe while the Royal Lodge winner has several graded stakes winners in his immediate family. His dam Vionnet was third in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes and she’s out of a sister to California Flag whose wins included the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
The most expensive filly among the two-year-old group winners was the French-bred Laurens, a daughter of the Aga Khan’s up-and-coming stallion Siyouni. She was bought by Salcey Forest Stud for owner John Dance at Goffs UK Premier Sale (also the source of the Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe, a £85,000 purchase at Doncaster having been a €65,000 foal) and won both the May Hill Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile. Cheveley Park Stud bought the other filly among the six listed above, Rockfel Stakes winner Juliet Capulet, a daughter of Dark Angel who was offered at Goffs Orby Yearling Sale. As well as being a full sister to the listed-placed Juliette Fair, she made plenty of appeal to Cheveley Park in coming from the family of Group 1-winning sprinters G Force and Lethal Force, the latter also by Dark Angel and who had his first crop of two-year-olds in 2017 for Cheveley Park.
Now let’s look at the two-year-old group winners of 2017 who cost the least:
Different League (€8,000)
Abel Handy (£16,000)
Wells Farhh Go (16,000 guineas)
Nyaleti (40,000 guineas)
Elarqam’s trainer Mark Johnston had one of the bargin buys here in Nyaleti, considering she came from Book 1 of Tattersalls October Sale. As well as winning the Princess Margaret Stakes, she wasn’t beaten far when placed behind Laurens in the May Hill and Juliet Capulet in the Rockfel. The daughter of Arch looks well-bought now, and became the third group winner out of her dam the French listed winner America Nova following the Prix des Reservoirs winner Stellar Path and the Australian Group 2 winner (and Group 1-placed) Weary who finished second in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury earlier in his career when known as Sir Patrick Moore.
Zebedee colt Barraquero, winner of the Richmond Stakes, went through the ring twice, fetching €40,000 at Goffs November Foal Sale and then £30,000 when bought as a yearling by Sam Sangster Bloodstock at Goffs UK Premier Sale – he’s from a family of several listed winners but is the first group winner under the first three dams in his pedigree.
Cornwallis Stakes winner Abel Handy changed hands twice as a yearling, for just €7,000 and £9,000 before becoming one of two breeze-up graduates to win a two-year-old pattern race in Britain in 2017 (the other was the Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands of Mali who fetched £75,000). Abel Handy cost a lot less when bought by his trainer Declan Carroll at Doncaster’s Goffs UK 2yo Breeze-Up Sale. By Arcano, his grandam’s half-sister Dominica also won the Cornwallis before winning the King’s Stand Stakes as a three-year-old.
At €16,000, Acomb Stakes winner Wells Farhh Go cost the least of the four future group winners to go through the ring at Goffs November Sale and he was another shrewd trainer purchase when Tim Easterby snapped him out of Book 3 at Tattersalls the following October (the Horris Hill Stakes winner Nebo was a more expensive Book 3 graduate, bought for 75,000 guineas). Wells Farhh Go is from the first crop of Farhh out of a Galileo mare from the family of Irish St Leger winner Ibn Bey and Yorkshire Oaks winner Roseate Tern.
Star billing among the bargain buys, though, goes to the Albany Stakes winner Different League who was picked up for just €8,000 as a foal at Arqana’s December Sale in 2015. The daughter of Dabirsim went through the ring again at Doncaster the following August but was bought back when the bidding reached £14,000. Out of a four-time winner in France by Danehill Dancer, Different League’s grandam was a half-sister to the 1997 Gimcrack Stakes winner Carrowkeel who finished second in the Middle Park Stakes.
When ‘nobody wanted her’ pinhooker Con Marnane (who had also bought Sands of Mali for just €20,000 as a yearling before selling him on at two) put Different League into training with Matthieu Palussiere in France. After Royal Ascot she went on to be placed twice in Group 1 company, finishing third in the Prix Morny and second in the Cheveley Park Stakes. The fairytale was completed when Different League attracted far greater interest on her next visit to the sale ring at Newmarket in December when consigned by Marnane’s daughter Amy. In partnership with American Peter Brant, Coolmore’s M V Magnier secured Different League and she’ll be in training with Aidan O’Brien this year. Her price this time…