Geoff Lester interviewed Henry Beeby, chief executive of Goffs, ahead of the pre-Royal Ascot exclusive London Sale
FATHER’S Day is only two weeks away, so if you are feeling flush and wish to spoil your old dad this year, why not splash out on a racehorse at Goffs exclusive London Sale (in association with QIPCO) in the grounds of Kensington Palace on June 19.
This elite bloodstock sale is unique in that it is being staged on the eve of Royal Ascot and acts as a spectacular curtain-raiser to the best five days in Flat racing.
It attracts equine buyers from all over the globe and boasts a small but select catalogue that includes a fistful of top-class horses in training. Handily, those listed will all be eligible to run for their new owners at the Royal meeting that week.
Top of the billing, no doubt, will be the Frankel filly foal, who is being sold alongside her nine-year-old dam, Millevini, safely in foal again to 2014 champion miler Kingman.
At Goffs’ inaugural London Sale four years ago, the first foal by Frankel ever sold at public auction walked into the ring amid great expectation. 60 seconds later the excitement had reached fever-pitch as he was sold for £1.3m.
Henry Beeby, chief executive of Goffs, is hopeful that this year’s renewal of what has become an exciting concept will prove to be the best yet.
He said: “We had the wow factor of Frankel fever in year one, and we are looking to replicate that this year.
“Frankel is one of the most sought after stallions around. If you take out Galileo, he is probably the number one, so hopefully the great and good of the racing world will descend on Kensington Palace for what should be an evening to remember. The Frankel foal is an absolute belter and from the same family as St Leger winner Kingston Hill.
“We are still working on the catalogue and hope to complement that show-stealer with a few other choicely-bred individuals. We will also have some ready-made horses who come with a Royal Ascot entry, which is a huge plus for any would-be buyer.
“We concentrate this sale on horses who have already raced and won. It’s all about offering instant action, and hats off to the BHA, who have been very helpful in agreeing that any horse sold who has an Ascot engagement will be able to run in the new owner’s colours that week, provided he or she is a registered at a racing nation around the world.”
There was tremendous anticipation as to what price that first Frankel foal might make. But such has been the phenomenal first season at stud enjoyed by the horse, who won all his 14 races and is universally regarded as the greatest turf champion of the modern era, that it will be a major surprise if his daughter does not surpass that figure in 16 days’ time.
Never has a young stallion kick-started his career in such a manner. Frankel was responsible for 18 individual winners at home and abroad last year, with no fewer than 15 who of them winning first time out.
Wth the likes of Princess Margaret Stakes winner Fair Eva and Lowther Stakes heroine Queen Kindly among the success-stories, there is bound to be huge interest in a filly, whose sire can claim two of the leading fancies for today’s Investec Derby in Cracksman and Eminent.
Beeby, praising his marketing team who have done an excellent job promoting this venture as well as his various partners, which include QIPCO, added: “First and foremost we are staging a bloodstock sale, but it also takes us out into a new global audience as many of our international customers had never been to Goffs until they experienced the London Sale and are now regulars at our major sales in the autumn.”
The Orangery is the most fantastic venue – totally different from the 70 acres and 660 stables that you’ll find at Goffs’ Irish base – and, while welcoming the challenge it brings, Beeby has his fingers crossed that the heavens don’t open as wide as they did on the corresponding day 12 months ago.
He added: “This sale is like no other. It is the most beautiful and iconic location with a garden party atmosphere, where for a couple of hours the 1,000 invited guests can eat superb food and enjoy some fabulous wines, before heading out to dinner in London in readiness for Royal Ascot the following day.
“We have plenty of other sales through the year, at Doncaster and in Ireland, where people can snap up a five grand horse, but this is a one-off evening and I am absolutely delighted how quickly it has developed in such a short space of time.
“The average price sold at the three previous years has been between £250,000-£300,000, with top lots standing at £1.3m, £825,000 and £1.3m again. These were the three highest prices fetched for a horse in training in each of those seasons.”
Among proven performers who were sold at these sales were Irish 1000 Guineas winner Jet Setting, Harbour Law, who went on to win the St Leger the following season, and Pornichet, who won a Grade One in Australia for Gai Waterhouse.
Beeby confesses that the dream remains to sell a horse in the London arena on the Monday who goes on to win at Royal Ascot that same week.
He went pretty close with Cappella Sansevero, who was knocked down for £1.3m to Sheikh Fahad Al Thani that first year and 24 hours later finished runner-up in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Whether or not he realises that aim this year, Beeby will keep on trying, and who knows maybe from his Kensington auctioneer’s podium he’ll spot the Duke of Cambridge or Prince Harry looking for that Father’s Day gift for the Prince of Wales. Now that really would be a coup.