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    Minella Premier's wow factor sends the price soaring to £400,000
Minella Premier's wow factor sends the price soaring to £400,000
Minella Premier. Source: racingpost.com

Minella Premier's wow factor sends the price soaring to £400,000

Not everything in the National Hunt market has been easy lately. But Wednesday's exchange at Goffs UK served as a reminder that, when a horse with Minella Premier's profile goes under the hammer, practically anything can happen.

The four-year-old son of John Nallen certainly enhanced the prestige of the Spring Point-to-Point and Horses-in-Training Sale, and it lived up to the expectations by fetching an impressive £400,000.

Rarefied air usually characterises the peak of the jumping market, but on this particular occasion, four buyers went beyond the quarter-million dollar threshold. One of the important figures was trainer Laura Morgan, who was positioned across from the rostrum alongside owner and former football player Alan Rogers. Tom Malone was in charge of the subdued wave of the finger that moved the bid board to £300,000. 

Ultimately, it came down to two people: agent Jerry McGrath, who was stationed next to Nicky Henderson in the gangway below, and AJ O'Neill, who was in the bidders' area.

The O'Neill team put up a strong fight as AJ persisted in following his father Jonjo, who was concealed in the rear of the crowded auditorium, but McGrath's crucial £20,000 rise ended the lengthy struggle and sent Minella Premier to Seven Barrows. 

This month, the son of Shantou made an extremely impressive debut at Ballindenisk, showcasing his great potential. John Barry had him comfortable behind the leaders and, before two out, he surged to the lead while continuing to travel strongly. Despite early symptoms of greenness, he quickly pulled away from his dozen opponents and finished 12 lengths ahead.

“Jerry’s known all about him and we followed him into his point-to-point and out of his point-to-point,” said Henderson. “Everybody was impressed by him and he had a lot of ‘wow’ around him. He’s come here with that behind him and all the right people followed him into the ring.” 

“John had Minella Juke in the Punchestown Sale but he got withdrawn,” he said. “I drove down to Tipperary to see that horse, he was the only horse I wanted to see, but while I was there John said, ‘I have to show you the best horse I’ve had in a long time.'  He hadn’t run at that stage but I purposefully went to Ballindenisk to see him debut. I’d be good friends with John Barry, who rode him, and he highly recommended him. What I loved is that he quickened going to the last but then pricked his ears and was very green.  He ballooned the last but then picked up again and went on to the line without company. I followed him back into the parade ring and he was barely blowing. Hopefully, he’s a very good horse.” 

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