Bumper winner On His Own sets Centaur record
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THREE hours after Tidal Bay's Cleeve Hurdle success in Cheltenham on Saturday, trainer Howard Johnson and owner Graham Wylie teamed up to spend £240,000 on Leopardstown bumper winner On His Own, offered at the racecourse's Brightwells January Sale.
Howard Johnson: struck for top lotPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
The six-year-old won a point-to-point for trainer Oliver McKiernan in October before going on to land a bumper on his only start under Rules on December 27.
Nicky Henderson was another determined to get the Presenting gelding but he came £10,000 short of the selling price, a record at Cheltenham since sales began in the racecourse's Centaur building in 2004.
"I thought we'd have to give about that because we'd heard they wanted £200,000 for him or they'd take him home," said Johnson. "He's a six-year-old and still needs to furnish a bit but he's done nothing wrong so far and will jump a fence. He has a great step on him.
"We'll maybe give him a run in a bumper because it's too late to start hurdling this season and then might go straight over fences next season."
The evening's other standout lot, Forty Foot Tom, came to the sale having won a Navan bumper by 24 lengths in December for Wexford trainer Danny Miley.
The five-year-old was initially bought back for £240,000 in the ring but was subsequently sold privately for £220,000 to agent Gerry Hogan, acting for Best Mate's jockey Jim Culloty, now training in County Cork.
Forty Foot Tom is a 16/1 shot with many bookmakers for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham but he is not certain to line up at the Festival.
"He's for a good owner with Jim and whether the horse goes to Cheltenham or not is up in the air at themoment. Punchestown is another possibility," said Hogan.
"I saw him win at Navan and then went down to see him before he came here. He's a lovely young horse that's just full of potential."
Tim Vaughan: will train Bens MoorPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Jockey-turned-agent Tom Malone, bidding for trainer Tim Vaughan, fought off State Of Play's owner William Rucker, standing with Evan Williams, to get the rangy five-year-old Bens Moor, who had scored six days earlier for trainer Paul Cashman in a Dungarvan point-to-point, for £75,000.
"We're trying to get a better stamp of horse and move away from low-grade handicappers," said Vaughan. "He'll race for the mother of Andrew O'Sullivan, a Cardiff-based owner who has a couple of horses with me, and we'll probably run him in a bumper in the next few weeks and then put him away.
"Tom's helping me a lot buying horses now and he'd sat on this fellow and loved him as well."
Donald McCain: won "best breezer"PICTURE: Mark Cranham
Trainer Donald McCain paid £100,000 at Cheltenham in April to buy his star novice hurdler Peddlers Cross from County Tipperary-based Thomond O'Mara and he was hoping lightning would strike twice last night.
O'Mara offered, from his Knockanglass Stables, a Beneficial four-year-old who was the standout unraced breeze-up lot on show and he will race in the colours of Peddlers Cross's owner Tim Leslie after McCain saw off Johnson at £70,000 for the gelding.
"He was the best breezer here and came highly recommended by Thomond," said McCain. "You're taking a chance by buying a breezer but if he'd come here having won a point-to-point or bumper you'd pay a lot more. He looks a very progressive sort of horse that shouldn't take long to get ready."
Owner Roger Brookhouse, who has enjoyed a great run this week with trainer David Pipe, struck early to see off Anthony Bromley to get Ardkilly Rebel for £42,000. The six-year-old won his only point-to-point start at Affane in November.
Although the median dropped on last year's sale, the turnover and average showed solid advances on 2009.
Matt Mitchell, Brightwells' head of bloodstock, commented: "From a sales company's viewpoint, it's pleasing when you achieve significant prices for the top lots as we did tonight.
"It reflects the strength of a venue like Cheltenham that when the quality is on sale, it attracts a depth of potential purchasers. The overall market continues to be very, very selective which is reflected in the demand."