The mighty mare Attraction, whose wonky legs made her unsellable but never stopped her on the track, enjoyed the latest victory of her long career on Tuesday when two of her descendants fetched huge sums at auction. Her 12th foal was knocked down for £1,155,000 during the Tattersalls Book 1 sale in Newmarket, while a colt out of her daughter Cushion went through the same ring for £2,205,000 a few hours later.
Both yearlings were bred by the late Duke of Roxburghe, whose grey and green silks were carried by Attraction, and they were foaled just months before he died in August last year. His widow, Virginia Wynn-Williams, wiped away tears before telling reporters: “This family means a huge amount to us and Attraction is an absolute heroine, we are all very emotionally attached to her.
“I am thrilled for my late husband, who did nothing but dream of Attraction and she has really done us proud. He always thought they were two of the best he had ever produced and he has been proven right. It was tear-jerking stuff.”
Attraction, now 19, would also have been sold at auction as a yearling, had there been the smallest likelihood of a bid. But so poor was her conformation that the Duke kept her in a spirit of resignation, believing no vet would pass her and no bloodstock agent would take an interest.
Her first trainer said of her arrival in his yard: “She came down in a box from Kelso and looked like an Aberdeen Angus.” He asked to swap her for a better-looking prospect, so she ended up instead with Mark Johnston, who trained her to win five Group Ones, including the 1,000 Guineas in England and Ireland, and the Coronation Stakes.
Her action, memorably likened by the Telegraph’s reporter to “a demented haymaker wielding a scythe”, was ungainly. But, combined with that grit which Johnston instills in so many horses, it got the job done.
Johnston, who holds the British record for winners trained, has said Attraction’s successes gave him most pleasure. “There were so many stages when we could have called it a day and retired her. After she won the Hilary Needler, the Duke always told the jockey to go out and enjoy himself, as everything from now on was a bonus. She was a tremendous horse to train and the Duke being her owner was a big part of that.”
Attraction’s son and grandson were both bought by Godolphin, which spent more than £7m in total during day one of this sale. Sheikh Mohammed’s continued willingness to spend was cheering to vendors but, while the top end of the yearling market seems remarkably robust even in times of crisis, there is real concern about how much demand there will be for less fashionable lots in the weeks to come.
“At Goffs last week, I bought the same number as I did last year but at almost half the average price,” Johnston said. “I wouldn’t say we’re having trouble yet retaining owners but the fact is we don’t know. We’ve done fine this year. It’s next year we’ve got to worry about.”
Wednesday’s horse racing tips
Tips by Chris Cook
12.00 Trumble 12.30 Royal Touch 1.00 Bruyere 1.30 Twilighting 2.00 Jane Marple 2.35 Act Of Wisdom 3.10 Tremor 3.45 Casting Vote 4.15 Captain St Lucifer
1.15 Conundrum 1.45 Evander 2.19 Oksana 2.54 Mistercobar 3.29 Wild Polly 4.00 The Late Legend 4.35 Eyeofthescorpion
2.10 Orchestral Rain 2.45 Shantung 3.20 Coup De Pinceau 3.55 Does He Know 4.30 Morning Vicar 5.05 Peat Moss 5.35 Ordered Lives
4.05 Trumpet Man 4.40 Rogue Tide 5.10 Sir Edward Elgar 5.40 Talking Point 6.15 Elusive Artist 6.45 Twisted Dreams 7.15 Cmon Cmon 7.45 Ventura Vision 8.15 Devil’s Angel
4.25 Hemmsa (nb) 5.00 Embarked (nap) 5.30 Dark Company 6.00 Crown Power 6.30 Law Of One 7.00 D’Bai 7.30 Riot 8.00 Juan Les Pins 8.30 Rockesbury
Racing agrees united approach on levy
Horse racing is once more speaking with a single voice to government on the subject of the levy on bookmaker profits, at least according to the British Horseracing Authority. The sport’s ruling body said on Wednesday evening that a steering group had been formed, bringing together its executives with representatives of horsemen and racecourses, with plans to meet this week and “carry out a rapid assessment of levy options”.
The group is to be headed by BHA director Joe Saumarez-Smith and will also include BHA executives Will Lambe and Richard Wayman. The BHA’s outgoing chief executive, Nick Rust, is a notable absentee from the group’s membership.
As reported first by The Guardian, leading figures in the industry were energised by a meeting with the home secretary, Priti Patel, into pushing the case for levy reform as a means of improving racing’s finances. Saumarez-Smith was among those involved in the discussions that followed, with some expressing hope of an extra £70m per year in income for the sport.