Skiffington on hunt for stars at Fairyhouse

Amanda Skiffington: bought Galileo Gold at Fairyhouse for €33,000

PICTURE: Martin Stevens Skiffington on hunt for more stars at Fairyhouse By James Thomas 8:53PM 19 SEP 2016

DURING the 2016 turf season four graduates of the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale have gone on to claim Classic honours, a notable figure for any auction to record, never mind one that is relatively in its infancy.

First came Conselice, who landed the Italian 1,000 Guineas at Capannelle, then followed the Hugo Palmer-trained Galileo Gold who landed the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket before going on to claim the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Hawksmoor gave Palmer another Classic when landing the German 1,000 Guineas in Dusseldorf in early June, and most recently came Wicklow Brave, who upset the odds when running out a gritty winner of the Irish St Leger at the Curragh this month.

While it is no mean feat for any sale to have produced such stellar results on the track, perhaps an even more noteworthy achievement is that half of those winners – Galileo Gold and Hawksmoor – were sourced by one individual: Amanda Skiffington.

Skiffington has cultivated a reputation as one of the shrewdest judges around, but even by her own high standards the 2016 season must rank as a particularly memorable one.

This year's September Sale catalogue features images of Galileo Gold on the front cover and Hawksmoor on the back, a point that draws a chuckle from Skiffington.

"It's nice for me," she says of Tattersalls Ireland's choice of artwork. "They've both been great and I'm really proud of them. I was asked last year what would be my ideal race to win and I said I'd love to win both the French Guineas with Galileo Gold and Hawksmoor. Instead I've won the English Guineas and a German Guineas, so it's not too bad."

Reflecting on what drew her to the Classic-winning pair as individuals, Skiffington says: "Hawksmoor was beautiful and didn't take much imagination. She's a lovely filly and for this sale she was expensive [€80,000].

"Galileo Gold took a bit more imagination as he was more raw, but he moved well and he was a nice horse. And of course he's out of a Galileo mare, so I thought he was worth taking a chance on [cost €33,000]."

If there is one hallmark of Skiffington's purchases, it is that she is not afraid to shun a fashionable page in favour of an eyecatching physical specimen.

"There are particular types I look for," she remarks. "I like first-crop sires because a lot of people don't go for them – and by the time they're successful I can't afford them.

"The page values them but it's the physical that I go for. I try to see as many horses as I possibly can. Very little of my work is done before I get to the sales ground – I just try to take out mares who have had eight or nine foals with only the one winner. There's also a few stallions' progeny I won't look at, but not many."

Skiffington added that there was no one magical component she looked for in the progeny of first-crop sires and said she was currently in the process of "looking to see which ones I like" from this year's newcomers.

When asked what draws her back to Tattersalls Ireland year after year, Skiffington has a simple answer: "Value: that and the fact I've done very well here. I usually buy four to six yearlings here and, if I can find four to six I like and can afford this year, I'll probably do the same again. It's a useful sale as the normal man does need to buy horses, and this is a good place for it."

Among the lots on offer at Tattersalls Ireland over the next four days are a daughter of champion first-season sire Zoffany (lot 2) from the family of Daliapour and Dar Re Mi offered by Baroda and Colbinstown Studs; The Castlebridge Consignment will offer an Oasis Dream colt (77) who shares his page with champion Hong Kong performer Mensa and who cost €210,000 as a foal; and a Pour Moi colt (349) consigned by Kilmoon Stud out of the Monsun mare Swish, whose brothers include champion three-year-old and Glenview Stud resident Shirocco.

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