10/07/2002 12:00AM

'Tis a 'blemish' nothing more

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Days before its flagship selected yearling sale was set to open, Ireland's Goffs auction house in Kill, County Kildare, was the scene of a bizarre crime last weekend when an intruder entered seven yearlings' stalls and cut off most of their mane and tail hair.

As of Monday afternoon, at least one of the yearlings was likely to be withdrawn from the auction. The Goffs Orby sale, one of Europe's premier yearling sales, was to run Tuesday and Wednesday. The Goffs Challenge sale, a yearling sale linked to the Goffs Challenge race for auction graduates, takes place Thursday.

The Sporting Life reported Monday that local police in nearby Naas are investigating the attacks and are examining closed-circuit television cameras from the sale grounds.

Goffs officials did not return a phone call seeking comment on the attacks, but the company's marketing director Nick Nugent told The Sporting Life that the shearing was "a cosmetic blemish."

The attacks took place over two nights. One yearling was shorn on Friday night, followed by six more the following night. The attacks prompted many consignors to hire their own security agents to patrol consignments.