Horse Racing

Alpha Centauri, Alpine Star Equal Irish Sales Record

What unfolded at Goffs on Friday evening will be talked about for years to come. Group 1-winning siblings Alpha Centauri  and Alpine Star  sold for €6 million (US$6,564,192, €1=US$1.0942) apiece, equaling the record price for a Thoroughbred at an Irish public auction not once but twice. 

The event was, quite literally, generations in the making as the Niarchos family have been cultivating the bloodlines in their possession with skill and care for over half a century. The result of the family’s decision to “restructure” their Thoroughbred interests saw breeders flock to Kildare from every corner of the globe. 

In a sign of the esteem in which the Niarchos family are held, the likes of the Aga Khan and Juddmonte were among those keen to gain access to some truly iconic turf pedigrees, along with bidders from the United States and Japan.

However, no breeding operation the world over was more determined to add the Niarchos mares to their broodmare band than Coolmore, as M.V. Magnier struck both of the jaw-dropping €6 million bids, as well as securing the €3.7 million Albigna  and the €3.3 million That Which Is Not  in a €19m spree. 

Alpine Star was the first lot to reach the Irish record mark, after which Magnier said: “She was a very good racemare and it’s an incredible family. Honestly, from all our partners, we’re just delighted to be able to buy these mares off Maria (Niarchos). She’s been a huge supporter of ours for as long as I’ve been alive. She’s godmother to my brother, so it means a lot to us to be able to give back to Maria after all the support she’s given us. These mares are special. They could do anything.” 

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The daughter of Sea The Moon  won three of her nine starts, including the Debutante Stakes (G2) at 2. She produced her first foal, a colt by Frankel  , on Feb. 5 this year. She was offered by Kiltinan Castle Stud in foal to the Juddmonte stallion. 

Magnier also revealed an exciting long-term mating plan for Alpine Star, saying: “What we’ll probably do when the time comes is send her to Auguste Rodin. When he won the Derby, I’d say 30 seconds later Dad rang me and said, ‘This is the most important thing that has happened to Coolmore since Galileo won the Derby.’ 

“That horse has everything, from Deep Impact to his mother being a champion, his grandmother being a champion, a group 1-winning 2-year-old, a dual Derby winner, Irish Champion Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Turf. He’s everything that we’re looking for. When the time comes, we’re going to get right behind him.” 

Alpha Centauri proved the best 3-year-old filly of her generation, winning four successive group 1 prizes under the care of Jessica Harrington. The four-timer began in the Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1) before she rolled on to Royal Ascot, where she produced arguably her most impressive performance in the Coronation Stakes (G1).

Lot 1263, 2023 Goffs November Foal Sale
Photo: Courtesy of Goffs

Alpha Centauri at the Goffs November Breeding Stock Sale

She has produced three foals at paddocks, the oldest of which, the 3-year-old Galileo colt Saturn, has been placed on all three of his starts for Harrington. She also has a 2-year-old Galileo filly named Earth and a yearling daughter of Circus Maximus  named Proxima Centauri. She was sold in foal to Sea The Stars 

Alpha Centauri and Alpine Star hail from the dynasty founded by the brilliant Miesque. After the draft had passed through the ring, the family’s long-serving racing manager Alan Cooper reflected on the past, present and future of the Niarchos racing and breeding operation. 

“It’s been a great tribute to decades of building these bloodlines,” he said. “The family would like to thank everybody who has contributed to the success of these families over the decades, from those involved with foaling, right through to training, racing and back to breeding. It’s very much mixed emotions, but as we said from the start it’s a restructuring. 

“That’s been accomplished in the sense that the bloodlines are spreading out. We’ve still got access to all of the bloodlines through our 2- and 3-year-old fillies, yearlings and foals. Even though we’ve separated from these great race mares, we still have the blood.” 

Alpine an Early Peak

The seven-figure action was kicked off by the group 1-winning Albigna. The Kildare Paddocks auditorium was packed to the rafters as Juddmonte Farms, represented by general manager Simon Mockridge, clashed with Magnier, who won out at €3.7 million. 

The 6-year-old Albigna won three races while in training with Harrington, including the Airlie Stud Stakes (G2) and the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1), registering a comfortable two-and-a-half length success in the latter contest. 

She has produced two foals since her racing career came to an end. The first of those, a colt by Wootton Bassett , sold to a partnership comprising the China Horse Club and Qatar Racing for €460,000 during the Orby Sale. She also has a filly foal by Dubawi  and was offered in foal to St Mark’s Basilica .

Juddmonte may have missed out on some of the bigger ticket lots but the operation was successful when Mockridge bid €720,000 for Diaphora , a listed-winning daughter of Pivotal bred and raced in Germany by Gestut Rottgen. The well-related 9-year-old was offered in foal to New Bay  and has young stock by Wootton Bassett and Frankel in the pipeline.

Japan Joins the Fray

The global appeal of the Niarchos draft was highlighted by strong Japanese interest. Champions Farm had the final say at €625,000 when Norelands presented Forever Be , a listed-placed daughter of Dubawi offered in foal to Wootton Bassett. 

“We have been looking at all the draft,” said Champions Farm representative Takashi Kodama. “The Japanese owner likes the Niarchos pedigree, especially a mare like this who is by Dubawi and in foal to Wootton Bassett. That is top-class. We knew that all of the Niarchos mares would be expensive and they tried to buy two or three beforehand but were underbidder. 

“The Niarchos bloodlines are very closely associated with the Japanese industry. They used Deep Impact a lot, obviously Study of Man is by Deep Impact from a Niarchos pedigree. We believe these pedigrees should be successful in Japan. That is why they were very keen to buy.” 

Earlier in the session another Japanese operation was on the board when Tanikawa Stud, whose website lists several Niarchos-bred members of the broodmare band, secured the unraced See at €300,000. 


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