Lethal Steps Tops Final Day of Tattersalls July Sale


Lethal Steps in the ring during the third session of the Tattersalls July Sale

Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott will get another opportunity to showcase his talents on the Flat after the third and final session of the Tattersalls July Sale, as Mags O'Toole went to 300,000gns (US$415,989) to secure the talented Lethal Steps for the ranks of Cullentra House Stables July 13.

Elliott may be best known for handling the careers of National Hunt stars such as Tiger Roll, Samcro, and Don Cossack, but O'Toole was quick to point to the handler's enviable record from limited Flat runners.

"He's been bought for a new client of Gordon Elliott's," she said. "That's dual Royal Ascot-winning trainer Gordon Elliott, so let's not pigeonhole him as just a National Hunt trainer."

Elliott struck with the mercurial Pallasator in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at this year's Royal meeting, a race he also won with Commissioned in 2016.

"He's been bought as a Flat horse, but we'll see what happens," added O'Toole. "Gordon has so many runners this evening he couldn't be here, but he saw him yesterday and thought he looked like a horse that could progress for a step up in trip.

"Gordon loved his attitude, too. He came and saw him up here yesterday after he'd run and, having been away for X-rays and what not, he trotted out perfectly."

A dual winner, Lethal Steps was consigned by Jamie Railton on behalf of Qatar Racing and was last seen producing a career-best effort fourth behind Naval Intelligence in the listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket.

"The horse has been been beautifully produced by Andrew Balding and his team," said Railton. "He ran well yesterday, looking as though he wanted a little further. He has few miles on the clock and is a lovely horse."

The 3-year-old was bred by the Seaton Partnership and is out of the Alhaarth mare Tanda Tula, an unplaced half sister to German group 2 winner Stormont.

Lethal Steps' turn in the ring came in the middle of a frenetic 10 minutes. The very next lot through the ring, the two-time winner Nearest Green, was signed for by Raymond Tai at 210,000gns ($291,193) and will now continue his career in Hong Kong. 

The 3-year-old son of Exceed And Excel landed a Beverley novice event earlier in the month for trainer Kevin Ryan, having been acquired as a yearling for just £20,000 ($26,272).

Proceedings during Friday's session were, for the most part, dominated by international trade, and by the close of the three-day auction, buyers from more than 30 different countries had secured new recruits.

July Sale regular Gassim Ghazali was the sale's most active buyer, signing for 25 lots at a total spend of 1,294,000gns ($1,795,575).

His purchases are headed by the 90,000gns ($124,797) Midsummer Knight, who landed the final race at Newmarket on Thursday to provide the 3-year-old with a major update just hours before his turn in the ring.

"I'd have gone to any price for this horse," said Ghazali. "I came from Qatar to buy this horse, and especially after he won yesterday, he was my favorite of the day. I've followed him, and I like his form and the fact he's by Dream Ahead. He showed really good form to win a class 2 handicap at Newmarket yesterday, and although I was already interested before that win, that took him to the next level."

While major prices may have been in relatively short supply during Friday's session, there was still plenty of competition, as highlighted by the clearance rate of 92.9%, with 183 of 197 offered lots changing hands. 

The third session saw other market indicators drop off compared to 2017's corresponding session, with the aggregate of 3,184,300gns ($4,415,446) some 23% down, the average of 17,400gns ($24,128) down 26%, and the median of 10,000gns ($13,866) dipping from 13,000gns 12 months ago.

The whole-sale figures stood at turnover of 12,074,300gns ($16,781,395)—an 18% year-on-year decline, an average of 21,485gns ($29,860) down 16%, with a median of 10,000gns, dropping from 12,000gns.

The clearance rate stood at 87.1%, with 562 of the 645 lots on offer finding a buyer. 

Given the nature of horses-in-training sales, a degree of fluctuation is to be expected, and Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony was content to focus on the positives from the three days, saying: "As ever, the Tattersalls July Sale has attracted overseas buyers in huge numbers, and we have seen sustained international demand from start to finish of the 2018 renewal.

"Quality consignments from some of the world's leading owner-breeders, including Godolphin, Juddmonte Farms and Shadwell, have been as sought after as ever, and although a handful of late withdrawals took some of the shine off the catalogue, there has been no shortage of competition at all levels of the market."