THE annual Million In Mind Dispersal which took place at Doncaster on Wednesday took centre stage during another strong day of trade at the Goffs UK Spring Sale.
Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, made the biggest impression of the day when purchasing Le Prezien, with a final bid of £290,000 required to see off a determined Kerry Lee.
The gelding won three of his six starts for Paul Nicholls and the Million In Mind Partnership, including the Grade 2 Premier Kelso Hurdle. He finished runner-up to the high-class trio of Yanworth, Its’afreebee and Yorkhill on the three occasions he met with defeat.
Just one lot earlier Berry was forced to part with £260,000 to secure the Listed-winning The Organist, having met with spirited resistance from owner Brian Drew.
The daughter of Alkaadhem won three of her five starts for Oliver Sherwood, and was in a three-length lead when falling at the last in Listed event at Cheltenham on her most recent start.
The five-year-old mare is out of the Bob Back mare Go On Eileen, which makes her a half-sister to the useful Regal Encore, who McManus also owns.
This isn’t the first time McManus had plundered the Million In Mind dispersal, having picked up 2015 Grade 1 Ryanair Chase winner Uxizandre for £100,000 from the 2013 sale and the inimitable Garde Champetre for £530,000 back in 2004.
On the pair of pricey purchases Berry said: “We’ve been lucky buying these horses before, we like both of them and they have the form in the book.
“We’re looking forward to them - let’s just hope they’re lucky further down the road.” Berry added that the decision over who would train the new acquisitions had yet to be finalised, but that the pair’s immediate future involved a summer at McManus’s Martinstown Stud in County Limerick.
Naunton-based trainer Fergal O’Brien also made an impact during the dispersal, going to £56,000 for Pemba.
The daughter of Zanzibari had been in training with Alan King, and, having won two of her seven starts and finishing second in a valuable handicap on her most recent outing, had earned an official hurdles rating of 120.
“I saw her yesterday and loved her,” said O’Brien. “She’s only a four-year-old and Alan King does a great job training these mares. He won’t have overdone her so we’re hoping there’s a bit of improvement left in her.
“We’ll get her back and she’ll have the summer off and then we’ll see where we go. She’s big enough to jump a fence in time. She’s been bought for an existing owner.”
Anthony Bromley of Highflyer Bloodstock, who runs the Million In Mind Partnership said: “We’re thrilled with a cracking set of results. I’m pleased for JP McManus, who’s had success with our horses in the past and it’s nice to see him come back and support our horses again. “I was very happy with the figures and there were a lot of different bidders and I’m pleased to be selling here.
“It means a lot to the members of Million In Mind. There was a lot of them here and it’s nice for them to see all five horses here together as, obviously, they’re at five different trainers yards.
“The members really follow the horses closely even though they’re in different people’s colours next season, so it’s not sad for us and we all want them to do well subsequently.”
Reflecting on a satisfying set of figures Bromley added: “We’ve had the same rules for 25 years, everyone knows the system, and that helps us sell the horses as it’s a very genuine reason for sale. We’ve had good success with the horses for other people since and they’ve come back to buy again and I’m really happy with that.”