For a different angle on the racing season, Georgie Lane-Godfrey popped along to the only place to buy a runner on the eve of Royal Ascot…
It’s an easy sell really. An afternoon spent in the grounds of Kensington Palace, sipping on a glass of Château Léoube and watching some of the best horses in British racing go up for auction.
A pleasant way to while away the hours, yes. But this is no ordinary auction. The unofficial start of Royal Ascot, the Goff’s London Sale is the only place you can buy a horse and see it run the very same week, in what is arguably the pinnacle of the British racing calendar. Put simply, it is, quite literally, unique.
Since its inauguration in 2014, the sale has become a fashionably glamorous affair – an inevitable development perhaps with Selfridges as a sponsor. What’s more, the people-watching opportunities are phenomenal – look out for the international audience which flies in from China, Australia, Qatar, Japan and Thailand to invest in the British and Irish bloodstock scene. Some of those investments are eye watering – at the inaugural sale in 2014, a mare in foal to Frankel sold for £1,150,000.
Meanwhile, flashy colt Cappella Sansevero, sold for a staggering £1,300,000 but went on to prove his worth by finishing second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot the following day. Clearly, anyone wanting to add an Ascot runner to their pockets needs deep pockets.
But the price tags are worth it. Bidders can go from never having owned a thoroughbred before to acquiring a guaranteed Royal Ascot runner, racing in both their name and their new colours within just a matter of days. That’s one impressive feat of organisation.
It’s no surprise then that the sale has become a key event for the season in its own right, with the guest list turning out in full force to see some serious money changing hands. This year, Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took centre stage after purchasing five potential Royal Ascot runners to add to his team of eight already earmarked for this year’s meeting.
But as well as bagging himself some impressive runners, Srivaddhanaprabha was looking to the future as he shelled out £720,000 for broodmare Belle Josephine and her Pivotal foal colt – the priciest lot of the day.
Now in its fifth year, the London Sale has proved popular enough to trigger another incarnation, this time on the eve of Glorious Goodwood. Set to take place for the first time this year, the lots will be fewer in number, but no less impressive in calibre.
Tempted? Cheque books at the ready, my friends…
For more information about Goffs, including details of Goodwood and future sales, visit www.goffs.com, and to see more, take a look at the official video…