Superstar filly sells for +£5 million – and her future plans revealed

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  • Star filly Alcohol Free will race on in Australia and has a potential date with Frankel pencilled in for her future after selling for a staggering 5.4 million guineas (£5.67m) at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale last night (29 November).

    The figure is the second highest price in European auction history.

    The four-time Group One winner was trained by Andrew Balding for Jeff Smith to win the Cheveley Park Stakes, as well as the Coronation Stakes, Sussex Stakes and the July Cup.

    Bloodstock agent Michael Donohoe, of BBA Ireland, landed the winning bid, confirming that the four-year-old was bought for a partnership to race in Australia.

    “Those blue [chip] fillies who come off the track, they are collectors’ items,” said Mr O’Donohoe, reflecting on the bidding to over 5 million guineas.

    “They don’t come on the market, like a Picasso, and if they do come on the market, you just have to value them and we had a figure in our head. I suppose I was bidding pretty strongly so I guess it indicated there was a bit more petrol in the tank.”

    It was standing room only when the No Nay Never daughter was led into the sale ring in the second of Tattersalls’ new “Sceptre sessions” for outstanding fillies and broodmares at its December sale. The bidding started at seven figures, with Australian owner-breeder Michael Sherrin, standing alongside agent Jim Clarke, placing the opening bid of 1 million guineas.

    Blandford Bloodstock’s Richard Brown, Mr Donohoe and Coolmore’s MV Magnier joined the bidding war. As the sum passed 4 million guineas, Mr Donohoe and Mr Magnier, sitting alongside Yuesheng Zhang, went head to head, and the filly was knocked down to Mr Donohoe for 5.4 million guineas.

    “She vetted extremely well and clean for a filly with some miles on the clock,” he said. “My vet was super happy with her. She is for a partnership who have horses in training and breed as well. There is a lot of money to win in Australia – I think 87 races this year are worth a million plus so we hope to recoup a lot of what we paid for her, and add a bit more too.

    “She is a filly with speed for six furlongs but stayed a mile, so there will be a lot of options for her.”

    He credited Mr Balding and his team for doing a “great job”, adding that the filly “looked very fresh”.

    “She will make a lovely broodmare in time, she has the physique and the pedigree. It is a family I know well as I bought the dam for Yulong Investments last year, and she has a lovely Lope de Vega foal at foot and is in-foal to Lucky Vega,” he said.

    “She will probably race for a season and then be covered, and we will probably send her to Frankel. So we will decide whether we cover on northern or southern hemisphere time, but obviously Frankel is an exceptional sire and is doing it in both hemispheres.”

    Alcohol Free’s last appearance at a sales ring was in 2018, when she sold at Goffs November Foal sale for €40,000 (£34,568) to Mr Smith’s Littleton Stud.

    Littleton Stud manager David Bowe, who landed the winning bid on that occasion, said the team is “delighted”.

    “It is the end of a wonderful, wonderful journey we have been on, a wonderful dream,” he said.

    “To end up here at Tattersalls, it is magnificent. [Auctioneer] Ollie Fowlston did a brilliant job from the rostrum and we could not have been better treated. Everyone was here to look at her.

    “She walked in and looked beautiful. If it had been five years earlier with Jeff, we might not have brought her to the sale ring, but she will make a beautiful mare in time. We have enough broodmares, she was not bred by us, but it is really to do with the timescale. It is time for someone else.

    “We have had so much luck… everyone involved with her, the team at home on the farm, the Caffneys whom we bought from, all her jockeys. I can’t thank everyone enough, and for everyone who put their hands up in the ring – it was lovely. Everyone has had a massive part.

    “It has been emotional, I can’t believe it, it just shows that whatever sales ground you are at, we are all trying to do the same thing and it has happened to the likes of us! It is extraordinary. It just goes to show if you keep plugging away it can happen.”

    He added: “Jeff was not here tonight, but it is all down to him. He let us buy her, let us all get involved in the whole dream.

    “It is a beautiful end to our chapter, and we wish the new connections all the luck. We don’t buy an awful lot of horses, but we have been lucky with the ones we have.”

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