Category: Blog


California Spangle - Meydan, Dubai

Fresh off his win in the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, California Spangle exploded on the international stage at Meydan in Dubai, stopping the clock in a track record of 1:07.50 to win the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.

Positioned forwardly by Brenton Avdulla, California Spangle kicked at the 400 metre mark and having put daylight between himself and the field, held off the late challenge of Star Mystery to win by just under a length. In landing his third Group 1 victory, the gelding’s immense talent was again on show. However it also further underlined his versatility, with his previous successes at the top level for trainer Tony Cruz coming over 7f (Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup) and a mile (Hong Kong Mile).

“I got this opportunity and I came with a lot of confidence that we would win this race today,” said Tony Cruz. “The family – the ‘California family’ – is here today. Howard Liang, whose horses usually are named California, passed away recently so I would like to dedicate this win to him. We are over the moon with this, the owner’s wish was always to win these big races. I wish he was here tonight but his whole family is here and we’re going to celebrate together.

“If you look back through his history, California Spangle on his debut, he ran a record time in Hong Kong and he ran a record time at 1200m. I believe when he hits the front, nobody can catch him.

“I think we’ll go into sprint races back in Hong Kong, that’s the end of April [the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize]. We’ll take on Lucky Sweynesse. He’s always been a sprinter-miler and I believe he’s more a sprinter than a miler. You have to go for those longer races in Hong Kong earlier in their career but I think we know where he is best now.”

California Spangle was part of the 2020 generation of breezers at Gaybrook Lodge and was bought by Badgers Bloodstock on behalf of owner Howard Liang Yum Shing. He was bred in Ireland by Michael Enright out of the High Chaparral mare Pearlitas Passion and bought as a yearling by MC Bloodstock for €150,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale.

With that win, California Spangle brought his record to 13 wins for just over £7.3 million in earnings.


California Spangle

Former Gaybrook Lodge Stud breezer California Spangle returned to his brilliant best with an emphatic win in the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin.

Previously winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at the expense of Horse of the Year Golden Sixty, the Starspangledbanner gelding had been running well this season in defeat. However, he was in top form on this occasion for trainer Tony Cruz in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, making all under Brenton Avdulla to win impressively over Galaxy Patch with the world’s top-rated sprinter Lucky Sweynesse well in behind. It was California Spangle’s second win at the top level and set him up for a crack at the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.

California Spangle was part of the 2020 generation of breezers at Gaybrook Lodge and was bought by Badgers Bloodstock on behalf of owner Howard Liang Yum Shing. The horse won ten races for the owner before Shing’s death in November 2023.

“This horse was very important to the late Howard Liang,” said Tony Cruz. “He bought the horse and I’m so glad he has won another Group 1. He is the best horse Howard raced and the exciting part of today is that California Spangle had to perform to go to Dubai. And now he’s heading to Dubai and everybody is thrilled about it.

“He had the perfect race today. I think Brenton rode a perfect race. He did exactly what I expected him to do. I’m so happy about that. We’re going to Dubai now and Brenton is going to ride him in Dubai.”

California Spangle was bred in Ireland by Michael Enright out of the High Chaparral mare Pearlitas Passion. He was bought as a yearling by MC Bloodstock for €150,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale.


Muqtahem looks a colt to follow in Saudi Arabia following his near nine-length romp in handicap company at Riyadh.

The Soldier’s Call three-year-old was bought by owner Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah out of the Gaybrook Lodge Stud draft at the 2023 Goffs Breeze-Up Sale in Doncaster. He was originally trained by George Boughey, who saddled him to win second time out at Pontefract. Subsequently sent to Saudi Arabia, he has made just the two starts in Riyadh to date but already boasts a rating of 90 thanks to his impressive second time out win.

Muqtahem was bred by Ballyhane out of the winning Bated Breath mare Smooth Sailing and bought as a yearling by MC Bloodstock for £27,000 at the Goffs UK Premier Sale. He continues a successful run for Gaybrook Lodge breezers of 2023 alongside other winners Albshur, Art Defender, Aurinko, How’s The Guvnor, Kinnigoli Kid, Never Better and Via Blanca.


Gaybrook Lodge Stud breezer Never Better justified favouritism to break his maiden on his second start for Roger Varian at Kempton.

The well-regarded No Nay Never colt had shaped well on his debut at the same track and made no mistake second time round, putting in a late challenge to run down the leader Asinara for a cosy win.

“He’s still a very green, big horse but I think he’s going to learn with the more racing he does,” said jockey Jack Mitchell. “He’s got a little bit of a high head carriage at the minute but that’s because he’s so green.”

Never Better was sold by Gaybrook Lodge Stud for €165,000 as an Arqana May breezer to Federico Barberini on behalf of owner Apple Tree Stud. He was bred by GSA Bloodstock Pty Ltd out of the Galileo mare Just Gorgeous.

Gaybrook Lodge Stud Graduates Flying High

Gaybrook Lodge Stud graduates have been flying high both domestically and internationally over the past 12 months, a number of them either developing into proven stakes performers or revealing themselves as potential Classic candidates.

One such Classic candidate is Qatar Racing’s Kings Shield, who caught the eye when the smooth winner of his debut at Newcastle for John Gosden just months after topping the Tattersalls Craven Sale at 675,000gns. It was a performance that prompted bookmakers to introduce him into the betting for the 2,000 Guineas.

And just as exciting is Walk In The Sun. Bought with Willie Browne for just $15,000 as a yearling, the son of Street Sense went on to sell out of Browne’s Mocklershill draft for a sale-topping €1.4 million at the Arqana May Sale. Kerri Radcliffe signed the ticket on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds and as befits such a price, this Irish 2,000 Guineas entry has shown abundant ability for Jeremy Noseda as the impressive winner of both his starts to date. 

Phoenix Thoroughbreds also campaign the high-class Gotti with Ali Al Rayhi in Dubai. This tough son of More Than Ready won his second British start for Jeremy Noseda and recently ran a career best to finish second in the UAE 2,000 Guineas.

The achievements of Kings Shield, Walk In The Sun and Gotti are just some of the highlights of a year that also included the Group 3-placed juvenile Ball Girl and impressive Dundalk debut winner It’s Two O Clock. 

There is also the immense promise of the lightly raced French-based pair Jaylan and Zyzzyva to look forward to. Al Shaqab Racing’s debut winner Jaylan is unbeaten in two starts, her most recent win coming in a hot conditions race at Deauville, and holds entries in the French 1,000 Guineas and Oaks. The Group 3-placed Zyzzyva, meanwhile, holds entries in the French 2,000 Guineas and Derby for Paul Hancock.

They complement older, current high-flyers such as Tinnitus, winner of the Group 3 Polar Cup at Ovrevoll in Norway, Beauly, a Grade 1-placed mare who won last year’s Listed Indiana General Assembly Distaff Stakes in the US, and the progressive Thundering Blue, who racked up a sequence of wins in competitive handicaps last summer.

Such results have been achieved from a select draft of horses sent to auction each spring. Who will you find in this year’s group from Gaybrook Lodge?

Sheikh Fahad Intent on War


War Alert

On the eve of the first Classic of the British turf season, the Tattersalls Guineas Sale drew a decent crowd to Newmarket for a record-breaking day’s action topped by a daughter of red hot sire-of-the-moment, War Front, at 270,000gns.

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani is the proud new owner of the filly (Lot 233), a first foal for multiple winner and listed-placed Pastel Gal (Lemon Drop Kid), who was led out of the ring unsold at $85,000 at Keeneland September and subsequently changed hands in a private transaction between Suzi Shoemaker and Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud.

Buying on behalf of Sheikh Fahad, his racing and bloodstock manager David Redvers said: “Jim’s horses go like rockets. We have Lightning Thunder running in the [G1] QIPCO 1000 Guineas on Sunday and we bought her from Gaybrook Lodge last year. This filly did the quickest breeze and was by far the nicest filly at the sale. She’s a bit up behind and a bit back at the knee but she clearly has a massive engine.”

He added: “The fact that she’s by War Front is a bonus. We locked on to him from the start and sent him mares when he was still standing quite cheaply.” Three six-figure transactions and solid trade with a 79% clearance rate throughout the breeze-up section of the sale led to the highest turnover in seven renewals of the auction, and at 3,271,800gns, the aggregate leapt up by 39% on the 2013 auction. The average of 32,718gns improved by 28% and the median, at 22,000gns, was up by 33%.

Combined with the figures for the horses-in-training section, the aggregate for the day stood at 3,955,328gns (+43%), with the average at 27,278gns (+18%) and median at 16,000gns (+14%).

“After the record-breaking Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up Sale it has been encouraging to see the momentum continue to this week’s Guineas Breeze-up and Horses-in-Training Sale,” said Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony. “The 270,000gns top price was the highest price at the sale since 2010 and the second-highest price for a filly at this fixture.”


War Alert

The sales-topper provided yet another memorable moment in a highly successful breeze-up season for McCartan’s Gaybrook Lodge Stud, which also consigned the day’s second top lot (Lot 181) at 215,000gns, plus an 800,000-guineas High Chaparral (Ire) colt which returned the second-highest price at the Craven Sale.

“I’m chuffed to bits, it’s absolutely brilliant,” said McCartan, who sold four juveniles through the session for a total of 553,000gns to end the sale as leading consignor. “I love War Front. We’ve been successful with him right from the start. I bought this filly from Suzi Shoemaker, who’s a very good breeder. It’s just such a relief when it all works out like this–it’s great for the team at home who have worked so hard.”

Taking second billing during the session was another filly, this time a daughter of Invincible Spirit (Ire) out of the unraced Machiavellian mare Golden Flyer (Fr), who had been bought by McCartan for just i39,000 at the Goffs Sportsman’s
Sale last year. She will join Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s string of bluebloods after being knocked down to Ed Dunlop, who will train the filly in Newmarket.

“We tried hard to buy a horse for Ed at the Craven Sale,” said Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold. “She looked sharp and did a really good breeze for her size. I doubt she’ll be out too early but she vetted well.”


Source: Thoroughbred Daily News, Saturday, May 5, 2014 | by Emma Berry

McCartan in Front at Breeze-Up


War Alert

He briefly held the European record for a breeze-up horse last month and yesterday Jim McCartan claimed the top two prices at Tattersalls’ Guineas Breeze-Up and Horsesin- Training Sale, writes Carl Evans.

A daughter of War Front (Lot 233) out of the winning mare Pastel Gal (Lemon Drop Kid) gave McCartan another memorable day when selling to David Redvers for 270,000gns – well ahead of the price her vendor paid last year when he bought her outside the ring – and he had earlier reaped 180,000gns when selling an Invincible Spirit filly (Lot 181). The pair became the second and third-highest priced fillies to change hands at this one-day auction, albeit some way behind a daughter of Mr Greeley, who made 470,000gns in 2008.

The War Front had been led out unsold at $85,000 when she appeared as a yearling at Keeneland in September, but McCartan, who trades as Gaybrook Lodge Stud, approached consignor Suzi Shoemaker and struck a deal.

He had bought the Invincible Spirit at Goffs for €39,000. He is not the biggest consignor of breeze-up horses, but  McCartan has had the Midas touch this year, headed by a High Chaparral colt he traded for 800,000gns at Tattersalls’ Craven Breeze-Up Sale after being bought for a humble 41,000gns last year.

Reflecting on a breeze season which has been extended into June – when Goffs stages an eve-of-Royal Ascot auction – McCartan said: “We have had our best year, but we probably spent more on yearlings – we wanted to try and buy nicer horses and upgrade the thing a bit, and it seems to have paid off. I have the nice job of travelling to the sales and trying to buy and sell nice horses, so I have to rely upon a very good team who are dedicated to getting the best out of the raw material.

For Redvers the War Front filly’s purchase was an unequivocal decision from the moment she lit up the Rowley Mile with a breeze that signalled she was the fastest filly on display.


War Alert

Acting for Sheikh Fahad, he had to dig deep to head spirited interest from agent Stephen Hillen, who was standing near the ring entrance with trainer Kevin Ryan. Ironically, Ryan is one of the Sheikh’s trainers, and today, at Newmarket, he saddles Hot Streak – a 42,000gns purchase by Redvers at this sale – for him in the Gr.3 Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes.

Yet it is another breeze-up purchase from McCartan, Lightning Thunder, who is arguably of greater significance this weekend, for she carries Sheikh Fahad’s colours in tomorrow’s Classic, the Gr.1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas.

Redvers said: “Our experience of Jim’s horses is that they breeze like rockets, and run like rockets in races, too. This was by far the nicest filly and she did the quickest time with her ears pricked. She is a bit dip-backed and back at the knee, but it doesn’t stop her running.

War Front has become the hottest stallion in Europe not standing in Europe – a resident of Claiborne Farm, the son
of Danzig began stallion life in 2007 at a fee of $12,500 but now requires $150,000 for his services.

Royal Ascot winner Declaration Of War promoted him on this continent last year, and one of his colts set a new European record at the Craven Breeze-Up Sale a few weeks ago when knocked down to Coolmore Stud interests for 1,150,000gns.

Redvers said: “We’ve been hooked on him for a long time – way before he became so fashionable – and we’ve sent mares to him.

Dunlop Adds to McCartan Joy

Jim McCartan’s double dose of luck was completed by the sale of an Invincible Spirit filly who enters the Shadwell fold.

One of four winners produced by the Machiavellian mare Golden Flyer, she joins Newmarket-based trainer Ed Dunlop, who bid in person and headed interest from agent Ross Doyle. The latter bought McCartan’s aforementioned 800,000gns son of High Chaparral at the Craven Sale.

Sheikh Hamdan’s racing and bloodstock manager, Angus Gold, subsequently said: “We tried to buy a horse for Ed to train at the last sale [Craven Breeze-Up], but failed, and he liked this filly very much. She looked quite sharp in her breeze – it was just unfortunate Mr Hannon [Doyle’s client Richard Hannon] decided to join in.”

Gold admitted that breeze-up buying is not his premier forte, and that the individual, rather than the time they achieve in their breeze, was a factor when buying. “I’m not a huge clock fan,” he said, “but she vetted well and Ed was pleased with her breeze.

“She’s quite a big filly considering how well she breezed, but we will give her a bit of time.

McCartan said of the filly: “She did  particularly well during the winter and was a very nice, kind filly who was easy to prep. She showed herself well all week.

“I had two Invincible Spirit fillies to sell, so sent one to the Craven – where she made 210,000gns – and kept the other one for this sale. I thought she would do well at this event, and it’s paid off.”


Source: European Bloodstock News, Saturday, 3rd May 2014

High Chap Colt Sets Breeze Record


Abunai colt

A little over two hours after watching Al Shaqab Racing’s Sandiva (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}) post serious Classic claims in the G3 Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn S., Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s Racing Advisor Harry Herbert sent several of the organization’s trusted lieutenants into battle in the sales ring to secure the next generation of potential stars. With 20 of the 45 lots sold during the first evening of trade reaching six-figure sums, the average rocketed to 117,457gns, up by 49%, while the median also rose significantly, by 46% to 76,000gns. Turnover of 5,403,000gns was a 35% improvement on the corresponding session of
2013. Ross Doyle engaged in a prolonged tussle with the Coolmore team to ensure that Lot 44, a High Chaparral (Ire) colt out of a Pivotal (GB) half-sister to GI E.P. Taylor S. winner Miss Keller (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}), will race in the Al Shaqab livery after setting a new European breeze-up record at 800,000gns.

“He did the best breeze of any in the sale and he’s a beautiful horse by the right stallion,” said Doyle, standing alongside Richard Hannon, who trains another High Chaparral colt, the G1 Sussex S. winner Toronado (Ire), for Al Shaqab and will now take charge of Sheikh Joaan’s expensive new purchase.

Herbert added, “He’s a very similar stamp to Toronado with a beautiful head and outlook. Coolmore wanted the horse as much as Sheikh Joaan does and this is what happens when they clash.”

The sale-topper was a welcome touch for Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud, who bought the colt for 41,000gns in the same ring less than six months ago, just a week before his dam, the multiple winner Abunai (GB), was sold for just 15,500gns to Jocelyn Targett of Black Type. Abunai foaled a colt by Bated Breath (GB) last week and is set to be covered by first-season sire Cityscape (GB).


Abunai colt

McCartan said: “I thought he’d sell well, though I wasn’t expecting that–but this is what we’re all in the game for. The day I bought him I thought he was a very nice colt but he’s just done everything right since. The first day I worked him I knew he was something special and we’ve just kept him ticking over. It’s very much a team thing–you can’t do anything in this business without good staff and Cian Hughes broke him in for me while Gerry Kerins has been riding him and looking after him.

“The lads were mad about him at home and I just hope he turns out to be really special for his new owner,” McCartan added. McCartan’s good evening didn’t end there. Dick O’Gorman went to 210,000gns to buy Lot 65, Gaybrook Lodge’s Invincible Spirit (Ire) half-sister to Group 3 winner Distinctive (GB) (Tobougg) after she had been picked up at the October Sale for just 25,000gns.


Source: Thoroughbred Daily News, Thursday, April 17, 2014 | by Emma Berry

Sheikh Joaan Creates New Breeze-Up High


Abunai colt

Europe’s breeze-up record price was nudged to a new high at Tattersalls in Newmarket last night when a son of High Chaparral made 800,000gns.

A horns-locked encounter between two major racing and breeding operations created the new mark – up 40,000gns on the previous best set at this same Craven Breeze-Up Sale last year – and the successful buyer proved to be Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing,  which foiled the powerhouse Coolmore Stud. It was a moment in time for the vendor, Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud, who picked up this prized possession for a humble 41,000gns (that is not a printing error!) in December.

Harry Herbert, representing the Sheikh, said of the colt, a grandson of the marvellous Hascombe and Valiant Stud’s mare Ingozi: “He has the most beautiful head and wonderful outlook. He was the absolute stand-out in this sale, and you could see the  opposition – they wanted him just as much.”

The revered colt had been foaled by the Pivotal mare Abunai, who produced a juvenile winner last year in Black Blade, and was herself a half-sister to Gr.1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Miss Keller.

Two foot soldiers had been sent to bid on behalf of the leviathans, namely Ross Doyle for Al Shaqab, and Jamie McCalmont, who was positioned next to Paul Shanahan, Michael Tabor and M V Magnier, for Coolmore. Doyle, who was standing alongside Richard Hannon Jr, said the new European record holder put him in mind of another High Chaparral colt who is in that trainer’s stable.

He reminds me of Toronado,” said Doyle. “He was the best horse here by a long way. He’s very special – they don’t just come along like that.

Asked to confirm that Hannon, in his first season with a licence, would handle this exciting prospect, Herbert smiled and said: “One would assume so. There would be war if not.


Abunai colt

For seasoned observers, let alone the average racegoer who knows little of the machinations beneath the action they see on the track, the question is: How did a 41,000gns yearling, bought at the December Yearling Sale little more than five months ago, spiral so colossally in value?

It’s a Westmeath thing,” said McCartan, in jest perhaps, but how can anyone be sure when such a remarkable transition has been achieved? “The day I bought him I thought he was very nice, and the first time I worked him I thought he was different – he just worked better than other horses. He did everything very easily, and when we came here he did the breeze I thought was in him.

“You have to bear in mind it’s very much a team thing. You cannot do this without good staff. Cian Hughes broke him in, Gerry Kerins has been riding him for the past couple of months, and Manuel breezed him. The lads at home were all mad about him.

Asked what he would do with his bumper profit, McCartan added: “The bank manager will be happier, and it will help pay for the equine swimming pool. Willie Browne just came up and said I’ll be swimming them in champagne after this!

Gaybrook Lodge’s spectacular moment was given a cream topping later in the session when it traded an Invincible Spirit filly (Lot 65) to Dick O’Gorman for 210,000gns – described by auctioneer Edmond Mahony as “An Ascot two-year-old”, she had been bought my Midas-touch McCartan for 25,000gns at the October Sale.

Of course, such profitable occasions have to be set against the inevitable losses that will occur – McCartan revealed he is trading 30 breezers this season at the two Tattersalls’ sales, DBS, Arqana and Goresbridge, and, intriguingly, he has a War Front filly for Goffs’ new London sale on the Monday of Royal Ascot, where she will be one of 30 two-year-olds who will be auctioned (in addition to a possible 20 horses in training). “It’s something new and imaginative, and we wanted to support it,” said McCartan.


Source: European Bloodstock News, Thursday, 17th April 2014