09/30/2003 11:00PM

Sheikh on spree, including a bid for Leigh dispersal

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The select yearling market moved back overseas again Wednesday with the opening of the two-day Tattersalls Houghton sale in Newmarket, England.

As at the season's earlier premier yearling sales, John Magnier of Coolmore Stud and his arch-rival, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, dominated buying at the highest levels of the market. Magnier purchased Wednesday's session-topper, a $1,753,500 Kingmambo colt out of Epsom Oaks winner Lady Carla, by Caerleon. Watership Down Stud sold the colt.

Maktoum, represented by his regular agent John Ferguson, bought eight horses, including a $920,587 Machiavellian-One So Wonderful colt and an $841,680 Green Desert-Repeat Warning filly from Meon Valley Stud, and a $745,238 Machiavellian-Time Saved filly from Voute Sales, agent.

The session sold 53 lots for $25,052,255, yielding an average price of $472,684 and a median of $403,305. Compared in the local currency of guineas in which the auction is conducted, the gross revenue was exactly the same as at last year's opener, when 62 lots sold. The average price, meanwhile, rose 17 percent, and the median leaped upward by an astonishing 53 percent.

The sale was to continue Thursday evening.

$58 million for Leigh stock

As the Houghton auction got under way, it was a broodmare band, not the yearling sale, that was making headlines Wednesday. The Racing Post elicited shock Wednesday with news that Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum was on the verge of paying more than $58 million to privately purchase the late Gerald Leigh's prolific broodmare band and his farm in Northamptonshire, England.

The mares, possibly including English champion Gossamer in foal to Rainbow Quest, were to have been sold publicly at the Tattersalls December sale, along with weanlings and fillies in training. Tattersalls hadn't yet provided details of the catalog but had expected more than 30 horses from Leigh's Eydon Hall Farm for the December auction.

Leigh, who died last June of cancer at age 71, was one of the world's most successful breeders, both in the auction ring and at the races. His best horses included 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Barathea, to whom 4-year-old Gossamer is a full sister; English champion 3-year-old filly and older mare Bosra Sham; and Group 1 winner Act One.

A source close to the Eydon Hall operation said that there had been other interested parties and that the Sheikh's leading rival was the Aga Khan.

Leigh's children, Sarah and Robin, have indicated they still intend to retain a small number of mares and racing prospects. It was unclear which horses those would be and whether that group would include Gossamer.

Hussonet to get on shuttle

Tom Simon's Vinery announced Wednesday that it will lease Hussonet, a leading South American sire and the sire of Grade 1 winner Wild Spirit, for its Kentucky stallion roster in 2004.

Hussonet, a 12-year-old Mr. Prospector horse, was one of Chile's most popular stallions, perennially leading the general sire list there and siring a string of Chilean champions. Foremost among those is Printemps, Chile's champion 3-year-old filly of 2000 who later came to the States, where she has won a Grade 2 and placed in Grade 1 company. In June, John Messara's Arrowfield Stud in Australia purchased him outright and brought him to New South Wales.

Kentucky-bred Hussonet is out of Sacahuista, North America's champion 3-year-old filly and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner in 1987. Vinery will announce his fee at a later date. Hussonet stands in Australia for about $17,000.

You and I California-bound

Kentucky stallion You and I, sire of Grade 1 winner You, has been sold to Blooming Hills Farm in California.

In a deal brokered by Michael S. Brown Bloodstock and Andrew Havens Bloodstock, the 12-year-old Kris S. stallion will leave Brereton C. Jones Jr.'s Airdrie Stud, where he stood for a $10,000 fee this year.

A Grade 1 winner, You and I has five crops to race and $9,445,853 in progeny earnings so far. You is the best of his runners with more than $2 million in earnings, but he also is the sire of stakes-winners Sweet Nanette, Miss Photogenic, and Zeta, among others. He also sired Grade 2-placed Sky Dweller.

You and I is out of La Chaposa, who also produced Grade 1 winner Chaposa Springs.

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale even

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's Eastern fall yearling sale turned in numbers close to last year's when it ended its two-day run Tuesday.

A $230,000 Not for Love colt that sold Tuesday topped the auction on a final bid from Buzz Chace, agent. Glade Valley Farm, agent, was the seller.

The sale's 2003 edition was cut back from three days to two, with the result that gross receipts dropped 6 percent to $8,325,500. The average price climbed 9 percent to $18,258, and the median held level with last year's at $9,500.

The overall buyback rate also was the same, with 25 Spercent of the horses offered failing to reach their reserves.