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Farclas spearheads three-pronged Kerry National challenge for Gigginstown

Farclas makes his first appearance since contesting the Grand National at Aintree in the spring as one of three runners for Gigginstown House Stud in Wednesday’s Guinness Kerry National.

The Gordon Elliott-trained grey contested a number of high-profile handicap chases last season – finishing third and fourth in two major events at Leopardstown before filling the runner-up spot at the Cheltenham Festival.

Farclas rounded off his campaign by finishing fifth behind the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Minella Times in the world’s most famous steeplechase and connections are looking forward to his seasonal debut in the feature event of Listowel’s Harvest Festival.

“He’s a very nice young horse who is hopefully progressing the right way,” said Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary.

“It’s his first run of the year, but hopefully he’ll do himself justice.”

The familiar maroon and white colours will also be carried by Elliott’s Conflated and the Assemble from Joseph O’Brien’s yard.

Conflated was a high-class novice chaser last season and is expected to strip fitter for a recent comeback run on the Flat at Gowran Park.

O’Leary added: “Conflated will be sharper for his run. He’s a nice young horse – hopefully he’s a Graded horse in a handicap. The trip might just stretch him a bit.

“Assemble was nearly a good young horse last year and hopefully he’s one to look forward to.

“They all have a squeak and hopefully one of them gets lucky.”

Trainer John Ryan faces a nervous wait to discover whether Fairyhill Run will make the cut for the €150,000 contest.

The six-year-old has been towards the head of ante-post lists or some time following a profitable summer campaign – but much to the dismay of connections, she was only first reserve after the declaration stage.

Ryan, who is also responsible for the third reserve in Waitnsee, said: “It’s very frustrating knowing that a rating of 131 got in last year, given Fairyhill Run is rated 137 and Waitnsee is 135.

“We’ve got until 11am on Wednesday, so fingers crossed.

“Hopefully the two of them get in as they are absolutely flying – they couldn’t be going better.”

Aramax (Elliott) and Darasso (O’Brien) are two of seven runners for leading owner JP McManus, while champion trainer Willie Mullins has declared four for Rich and Susannah Ricci in Brahma Bull, Annamix, Koshari and second reserve Karl De Grosse.

Tiger Roll still in Irish Grand National reckoning

Tiger Roll heads 60 horses still in contention for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

With connections deciding against bidding for an historic third victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week, Tiger Roll is set to run in either the Irish equivalent on Monday or Aintree’s Betway Bowl three days later.

Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, said following Wednesday’s forfeit stage for the Irish Grand National: “No decision has been made on where Tiger Roll will run yet.

“It will either be the Irish National or the Bowl.”

The hugely popular 11-year-old proved he is no back number with a brilliant display in the Glenfarclas Chase on his latest outing – his third victory in the cross-country event, and a remarkable fifth Cheltenham Festival success overall.

If he does line up at Fairyhouse, however, he will have to concede lumps of weight all round.

Gigginstown have a total of 14 possible runners, with O’Leary adding: “Run Wild Fred and Coko Beach would look the main ones.”

Paul Nolan’s stable star Latest Exhibition is also among the confirmations, but still has the option of running in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup at Fairyhouse 24 hours earlier.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins, who finally broke his Irish Grand National duck with Burrows Saint when the race was last run in 2019, has six remaining contenders – including new recruit Agusta Gold.

Other leading hopes include Joseph O’Brien’s Sempo, Peter Fahey’s The Big Dog and Escaria Ten – who is trained by Denise Foster as are Tiger Roll, Run Wild Fred and Coko Beach.

Latest Exhibition (nearside) still has two options at Fairyhouse over the Easter weekend
Latest Exhibition (nearside) still has two options at Fairyhouse over the Easter weekend (PA)

The 400,000 euro contest is supported by three Grade Two events on a quality card.

Noel Meade’s Jeff Kidder, winner of the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, is one of 10 contenders for the Rathbarry And Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle – with the unbeaten Teahupoo among his potential rivals.

The Underwriting Exchange Hurdle appears an intriguing affair – with Abacadabras, Beacon Edge and Petit Mouchoir among those in contention.

The third and final Grade Two of the afternoon is the Devenish Chase, for which O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies sets the standard.

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old has finished second in three of his four starts this season – most recently chasing home the hugely impressive Allaho in Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase.

Conflated picks up Grade Three honours at Naas

Conflated made the most of having his sights lowered with a wide-margin victory in the Bar One Racing Directors Plate Novice Chase at Naas.

Placed behind the high-class pair of Darver Star and Asterion Forlonge on his first two starts over fences, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding made it third time lucky at Navan in December.

He was no match for star novice Monkfish over three miles at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, but faced with three rivals on his first start since in this Grade Three contest, the seven-year-old was the 4-9 favourite under Jack Kennedy.

The lead changed hands on several occasions during the two-and-a-half-mile journey, but Conflated’s superior class told from the home turn and he passed the post with 21 lengths in hand over Waitnsee.

Winning trainer Denise Foster was enjoying her first success at graded level, having recently taken over the licence at Cullentra House Stables from the suspended Gordon Elliott.

Foster, who landed a treble at Navan on Saturday, said: “It was the perfect race for him and on ratings he was entitled to win. He’ll probably head to Fairyhouse and Punchestown.

“He did it well and was happy bowling along in front. He jumped great and stayed on well.”

On Eagles Wings with Charlie Swan (left), Harry Swan (second right) and Timmy Hyde
On Eagles Wings with Charlie Swan (left), Harry Swan (second right) and Timmy Hyde (Alan Magee/PA)

On Eagles Wings took the other Grade Three on the card, the Bar One Racing ‘Download Our App’ Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle.

The 11-2 chance is trained by Timmy Hyde and was ridden by his grandson Harry Swan – son of the great Charlie Swan.

Charlie Swan said afterwards: “He jumped great and I’d say his jumping won it for him.

“That’s just Harry’s third ride over hurdles, but he’s had a good few rides in hunter chases and point-to-points. He’s had two winners and a second now over hurdles.

“I was roaring a bit, which was probably quite embarrassing when I think of it, but that was great. I can see what my mother went through as you are always a bit nervous, but that was fantastic and he gave him a great ride.”

Handicapper insists it is owner’s prerogative not to run following Tiger Roll withdrawal

Martin Greenwood, the chase handicapper for the British Horseracing Authority, has reiterated it is the owners’ decision not to run a horse after Tiger Roll was taken out of the Randox Health Grand National at the latest scratchings stage.

Gigginstown House Stud, which is owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary with his brother Eddie as racing manager, stuck to their guns by removing the dual National hero from the world’s greatest steeplechase.

They said the Gordon Elliott-trained 11-year-old would not take his chance at Aintree next month unless Tiger Roll was rated in the 150s.

Tiger Roll was given a mark of 166, which is 2lb lower than his official mark of 168 when the weights were officially unveiled last month and on Tuesday, Gigginstown confirmed he will not be running due to what they feel is a “patently unfair” rating.

“Mr and Mr O’Leary did say if they didn’t get a mark in the 150s they weren’t going to run and they’ve stuck to their words, albeit two weeks later,” said Greenwood.

“It’s entirely their decision. Owners and trainers enter and withdraw horses all the time and this is just another instance.

“They have stuck to that particular hymn sheet for approximately two years now and obviously I’ve stuck to my particular hymn sheet for exactly the same time.

“They are entitled to their opinion and as I said at the weights’ launch, I’m entitled to just carry on as normal.”

Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to win back-to-back renewals of the world’s most famous steeplechase when striking gold in 2018 and 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed connections of the chance to emulate Red Rum by claiming a third National success 12 months ago.

“Obviously potential history could have been made, or joint history I suppose, but that’s racing,” Greenwood added.

“These things happen and will always continue to happen.”

Tiger Roll withdrawn from Grand National

Tiger Roll will not bid for a third victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree next month, owners Gigginstown House Stud have announced.

The Gordon Elliott-trained 11-year-old became the first horse since Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back renewals of the world’s most famous steeplechase when striking gold in 2018 and 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed connections of the chance to emulate Red Rum by claiming a third National success 12 months ago – and owner Michael O’Leary and his brother Eddie have warned on several occasions since that he would not line up in this year’s renewal if they felt he was unfairly treated by the handicapper.

Tiger Roll was given a mark of 166 when the weights were officially unveiled last month and ahead of the latest scratchings stage on Tuesday, Gigginstown confirmed he will not be running at Aintree due to what they feel is a “patently unfair” rating.

A spokesperson for the owners said in a statement: “When Tiger Roll won his second Grand National in April 2019 he ran off a rating of 159. He won by just two and a half lengths at the age of nine, having previously won the Boyne Hurdle in Navan and then won the 2019 Cheltenham cross-country race by 22 lengths.

“Two years later, the horse is now 11 years old. He was beaten by 17 lengths in last year’s Cheltenham cross-country and by 75 lengths in last month’s Boyne Hurdle, so his form over an extended two-year period suggests that he is clearly not as good as he was when he won the National in April 2019.

“Despite this pretty obvious decline, the handicapper has given him a mark of 166, which is 7lb higher than when he won his second Grand National in April 2019. We believe this is patently unfair, unjustified and does not reflect the horse’s age or his form over the past two seasons.

“We made clear that if Tiger Roll was rated ‘in the 150s’ (i.e where he was two years ago), which is what his form and age now warrants, he would be allowed to run in this year’s National and go for a historic three in a row.

“However, the handicapper has decided to rate him on his reputation rather than his form – which we fully accept is his prerogative – but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so we will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden, especially as he gets older and his form declines.

“We therefore regret to announce that Tiger Roll will be removed from the Grand National entries at Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

“We hope he will run next as planned in the cross-country race at Cheltenham, where we hope he will enjoy himself and run well. After that, we will consider his future well-being, which may involve retirement if his handicap mark is not adjusted to more fairly reflect his age and form over the past two seasons.

“We all look forward to this year’s Aintree Grand National, which we hope can now proceed without any further speculation over Tiger Roll’s participation.

Tiger Roll during his latest race at Navan last month
Tiger Roll during his latest race at Navan last month (Niall Carson/PA)

“We fully respect the handicapper’s right to determine the Grand National weights as he so chooses, but we respectfully believe that he is mistaken in allocating an unfair and unwarranted weight to Tiger Roll.

“In these circumstances, as we previously advised, Tiger Roll will not run.”

Aintree clerk of the course Sulekha Varma is disappointed Tiger Roll will miss out and believes another possible hat-trick seeker will not been seen for some time.

She said: “It is a shame. It would have been fantastic to see the horse go and attempt to win the race three times. I think we may never get the chance again in our lifetimes, but he’s been a fabulous horse.

“I’m sorry we won’t see him at Aintree this year, but it’s for the owners and trainers to do what they feel is right for the horse.”

Sulekha Varma believes the National will still offer plenty of excitement
Sulekha Varma believes the National will still offer plenty of excitement (Mike Egerton/PA)

Varma feels the Grand National will still offer plenty of excitement, despite Tiger Roll’s absence.

“There are so many other stories. It has great horses and it’s fantastic we’re going to actually run the race this year, having lost it last year. That’s hugely exciting,” she added.

Elliott is currently not be permitted to have runners in Britain until the conclusion of an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board investigation into an image on social media that showed him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops.

O’Leary will ‘continue to support’ Elliott despite ‘unacceptable’ photograph

Gigginstown House Stud and Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary will maintain his support for Gordon Elliott following the release of an image of the Grand National-winning trainer on social media.

While there were initial doubts about the authenticity of a photograph which was posted and widely shared on Saturday, Elliott confirmed in a statement late on Sunday evening that the image – which shows him sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – was in fact genuine.

Elliott said in his statement that he “cannot apologise enough”, and that he wanted to “apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused”, while seeking to explain the context of events that led to the picture.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has launched a full investigation, and a spokesman said on Monday that the matter will be dealt with “as quickly as possible”.

Gordon Elliott and Michael O'Leary with Tiger Roll
Gordon Elliott and Michael O’Leary with Tiger Roll (Brian Lawless/PA)

Through his Gigginstown operation, O’Leary has been one of Elliott’s biggest supporters – with the pair most notably combining to win two Randox Grand Nationals at Aintree with the hugely popular Tiger Roll.

In a statement issued on Monday, O’Leary – who together with Elliott also won the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack – described the photograph in question as “unacceptable”, but said he accepted the trainer’s “sincere, profound and unreserved apology”.

The statement read: “Eddie (O’Leary, brother) and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend.

“The care and welfare of all our animals comes first with all our trainers. Sadly, from time to time, our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve.

“We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra. From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care.

“We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses.

“We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them.

“We accept Gordon’s sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident.”

Envoi Allen returning to the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham last year
Envoi Allen returning to the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Cheveley Park Stud will await the outcome of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board investigation before making any decisions on the future of the several high-profile horses they have in training with Elliott.

The hugely successful breeders and owners, more renowned for their success on the Flat, have ramped up their interest in National Hunt racing in recent years and have already enjoyed multiple big-race winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The most notable is Envoi Allen, arguably the most exciting horse in Elliott’s yard following back-to-back Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in his unbeaten career to date.

The seven-year-old is a hot favourite to win at Cheltenham for a third time in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on March 18.

Cheveley Park released a statement in which they said they were “horrified” and dismayed” by the image.

The statement read: “We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media. However, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions.”

Other horses Cheveley Park currently have in training with Elliott include Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam, unbeaten juvenile hurdler Quilixios and leading Champion Bumper contender Sir Gerhard.

Coko Beach triumphs in Thyestes test

Coko Beach led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park.

Elliott and Gigginstown had previously teamed up to win the prestigious handicap with Monbeg Notorious in 2018 and were well represented once more, with Coko Beach one of four runners for the combination, while Gigginstown had seven representatives overall.

Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Coko Beach travelled strongly throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest in the hands of Jack Kennedy and hit the front early in the home straight.

From that point the 8-1 shot never looked in serious danger of being caught and safely negotiated the remaining obstacles to seal a four-length verdict, with stable companion Run Wild Fred best of the rest in second.

Elliott’s great rival Willie Mullins saddled the third, fourth and fifth in Class Conti, Saturnas and Acapella Bourgeois respectively.

Kennedy, winning the race for a second time after steering Monbeg Notorious home in front three years ago, said of Coko Beach: “He’s been struggling to win a beginners’ chase.

“Gordon asked me the other morning what I’d like to ride in it and I was thinking Farclas, but he didn’t show up here. Gordon fancied this lad and I went with what he said and thank God he was right.

“I got left at the start, but he winged the first and was able to travel well enough to get me into a position. I was handy the whole way and on that ground you are not going to get too many coming from behind.

“The blinkers sharpened him up an awful lot and he travelled a lot better than he has been.

“It’s a big race and one of the biggest handicaps of the year, so it’s great to win it.”

Coko Beach’s odds for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival were widely slashed, and Elliott’s assistant Ian ‘Busty’ Amond confirmed that contest as a likely target.

He said: “Gordon was sweet enough on him and Jack picked him. The blinkers obviously did the trick – he jumped great and travelled great and he was the winner from a long way out.

“I’d imagine he will be on the team for Cheltenham after that and I think the National Hunt Chase is the one Gordon has in mind. He’ll have a few easy days after this and we might have a look at the Irish National as well.

“Sean (Flanagan) was delighted with Run Wild Fred. He was never going to get to your man in front, but he kept at it well and there should be a big day in him as well.”

Elliott buys Grade One star Apple’s Jade for Bective Stud

Former hurdling star Apple’s Jade was sold for 530,000 euros at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale on Thursday.

The eight-year-old won 11 times at Grade One level for owners Gigginstown House Stud – twice when trained by Willie Mullins and on nine occasions after joining Gordon Elliott.

Her former handler bought the mare on behalf of Noel and Valerie Moran’s Bective Stud, with Apple’s Jade fetching a record price for National Hunt mare sold at public auction.

Her big-race haul includes the the 2017 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, the Irish Champion Hurdle and three consecutive victories in both the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Connections confirmed her retirement from racing immediately after finishing eighth in last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – and in October revealed the great mare, who is in foal to leading stallion Walk In The Park, would be offered as lot 515 at Kildare Paddocks.

In all Apple’s Jade won 15 of her 28 starts and earned over £800,000 in win and place prize-money.

2020 Ladbrokes Champion Chase Trends

Staged at Down Royal racecourse in Ireland this Saturday’s (31st October 2020) Ladbrokes Champion Chase (formerly the JNwine.com Chase) always attracts some of the best chasers from both England and Ireland.

Run over 3m the Grade 1 contest has been won by greats such as Kauto Star, Beef Or Salmon, Looks Like Trouble and Florida Pearl in the past. With top UK trainer Paul Nicholls winning 4 of the last 13 renewals then anything he sends across the Irish Sea should be respected, while the powerful Gordon Elliott camp have also saddled three of the last 7 winners.

Also note the Noel Meade stable, as they have landed three of the last six renewals, including the last two runnings with Road To Respect, but isn’t entered in the 2020 race, while it's a race the Gigginstown House Stud horses have done very well in recently - they've won ALL of the last seven runnings!

Here at GEEGEEZ.co.uk we are on hand with all the key stats head of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 31st October 2020

 

Recent Ladbrokes Champion Chase Winners

2019 – ROAD TO RESPECT (5/2)
2018 – ROAD TO RESPECT (6/4 fav)
2017 – OUTLANDER (16/1)
2016 – VALSEUR LIDO (2/1 fav)
2015 – DON COSSACK (2/11 fav)
2014 ROAD TO RICHES (9/2)
2013 – ROI du MEE (12/1)
2012 – KAUTO STONE (4/1)
2011 – QUITO de la ROQUE (11/4 fav)
2010 – KAUTO STAR (4/7 fav)
2009 – THE LISTENER (7/1)
2008 – KAUTO STAR (2/5 fav)
2007 – TARANIS (10/11 fav)
2006 – BEEF OR SALMON (11/4)
2005 – No Race
2004 – BEEF OR SALMON (Evs)
2003 – GLENELLY GALE (7/1)
2002 – MORE THAN A STROLL (20/1)
2001 – FOXCHAPEL KING (4/1)

Ladbrokes Champion Chase Betting Trends

16/18 – Had won at least a Grade 2 Chase before
14/18 – Had won at least 5 times over fences before
14/18 – Had won over at least 3m over fences before
13/18 – Aged 8 or older
13/18 – Winning distance 2 ½ lengths or more
12/18 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
11/18 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
11/18 – Had won a Grade 1 Chase before
9/18 – Having their first run of the season (including 8 of last 12 winners)
9/18 – Had run at Down Royal before
8/18 – Won by a Gigginstown House Stud-owned horse (all of last 7)
8/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Raced at Aintree last time out
4/18 – Raced at Limerick last time out
4/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
4/18 – Won their last race
3/18 – Trained by Gordon Elliott (3 of the last 7)
3/18 – Trained by Noel Meade (3 of last 6)
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 5/1

 

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Apple’s Jade offered for sale

Former hurdling star Apple’s Jade will be offered for sale at the Goffs December National Hunt Sale.

The eight-year-old was an 11-time Grade One winner for Gigginstown House Stud before being retired in March following a disappointing effort when only eighth in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Apple’s Jade, who counts the 2017 Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the 2019 Irish Champion Hurdle and three consecutive wins in both the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle at Leopardstown among her successes, is in foal to Walk In The Park and will be offered as lot 515 on December 10 at Kildare Paddocks.

Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “Apple’s Jade is a very special mare. She was the first mare ever to win 11 Grade One races, a feat now matched only by the great Enable, and we hope that she can mirror what she achieved on the track through her broodmare career.

“Gigginstown has never been about having a National Hunt breeding programme, which is why she will be offered for sale at Goffs in December. Apple’s Jade could be an ultimate blue hen for any serious National Hunt operation.”

Goffs Group chief executive Henry Beeby added: “It is an honour for Goffs to offer a mare of the calibre of Apple’s Jade. On behalf of all the Goffs team, I would like to thank Gigginstown House Stud for entrusting this exceptional mare to us, which is a wonderful endorsement of our December Sale.”

Petit Mouchoir heading to Elliott after Gigginstown sale

Dual Grade One-winning hurdler Petit Mouchoir will move to Gordon Elliott’s yard after being sold as part of the annual Gigginstown House Stud dispersal at the Goffs UK September Sale.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, who announced last year that he was scaling back his racing operations, sent a large team of horses to be sold without reserve at Doncaster on Tuesday.

The undoubted star of the squad was the nine-year-old Petit Mouchoir – the winner of five races since joining Henry de Bromhead, including the 2017 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

While winless in almost three years, the grey has been running well in defeat in 2020, finishing placed behind then stablemate Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle in February, fifth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and third in the Galway Hurdle last time out.

Petit Mouchoir will return to Ireland after being knocked down to bloodstock agent Mouse O’Ryan and Elliott for £70,000.

“He’s been bought for an existing owner in the yard,” said O’Ryan.

“We (Elliott) actually had him as a four-year-old, when he won the Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown.

“He’s a star and as long as he stays safe and sound, he’ll be able to go for all those big races on a Sunday in Ireland.

“He’ll aimed at the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November.”

Gordon Elliott will receive some new recruits
Gordon Elliott will receive some new recruits (PA)

O’Ryan also bought the Gigginstown trio of Cuneo (£7,000), Or Jaune De Somoza (£24,000) and Fierami (£11,500), with all three moving to Elliott’s yard from De Bromhead’s.

Reflecting on the day as a whole, O’Ryan added: “I thought it was a very good trade. A lot of people have been giving out, but I think the trade has been brilliant, considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic. All credit to Doncaster for getting it on.”

Another Gigginstown-owned veteran to go under the hammer was De Bromhead’s 11-year-old Sub Lieutenant, who was bought by David Phelan on behalf of an unnamed client for £50,000.

Phelan said: “I’ve bought him for a friend with a view to him running in the Grand Sefton at Aintree and possibly ending up in the Grand National next year.

“He’s been second over the National fences in the Topham and ran a good race last time to finish second in the Galway Blazers.

“Horses like him don’t come along very often – you can sometimes pay £50,000 for a store horse who’ll never make the track.”

Grade One-winning hurdler and dual chase victor Mengli Khan, meanwhile, was bought out of Elliott’s yard for £65,000 by Highflyer Bloodstock’s David Minton.

An even bigger team of around 50 horses went through the ring for three-time Grand National-winning owner Trevor Hemmings.

The 85-year-old has been one of National Hunt racing’s most successful owners during a 36-year spell in the sport, but confirmed last month he was significantly reducing the number of horses he has in training, citing the impact of coronavirus on his personal life and business interests as a major factor.

The top lot from the Gleadhill House Stud dispersal was Stoney Mountain, who won six races in the Hemmings silks for trainer Henry Daly, including the Grade Three Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock last November.

Leading bloodstock agent Tom Malone went to £140,000 to secure the seven-year-old services, and said: “He’s going into training with Jamie Snowden for a new owner in Anita Gillies and her husband.

Stoney Mountain (centre) is to join Jamie Snowden's yard
Stoney Mountain (centre) is to join Jamie Snowden’s yard (Anthony Devlin/PA)

“He’s a Grade Three-winning hurdler already, so he’s been there and done it. He’s a very likeable horse and should make up into a lovely novice chaser, hopefully.”

He added: “The trade has been extremely strong – I think this industry is nearly shatterproof.

“People are still willing to spend money, they still want to go racing and they’re still looking for Grade One horses, which is great.”

Trainer Donald McCain bought the high-class Mount Mews for £16,000. A Grade Two winner over hurdles for the late Malcolm Jefferson, McCain has trained Mount Mews for Hemmings for the past couple of seasons.

Burbank – a high-class performer for Hemmings and trainer Nicky Henderson – was snapped up by Jimmy Moffatt for £62,000.