SARAH LEIGH DISPERSAL: Lots 1893 and 1965
Tattersalls will play host to several bittersweet sales later today when two horses belonging to the late Sarah Leigh go under the hammer.
Sarah Leigh passed away in late August, not long before her homebred Farandine confirmed herself a filly of immense promise for Luca Cumani when breaking her maiden at Newmarket by a wide margin. That was to be final time the famous Leigh chocolate and brown silks were carried on a racecourse, and fittingly they went out in victory.
Farandine sells tomorrow but today features the sale of her dam Rivara (1893), in foal to Mastercraftsman, and Listed winner Seta (1965), who was strongly fancied for the 2010 1,000 Guineas such was the regard she was held in by Luca Cumani. The flashy daughter of Pivotal is already the dam of a winner while her Oasis Dream yearling colt realised 420,000gns in October.
Both hail from the exceptional Brocade family cultivated by the late Gerald Leigh, who died in June 2002. The majority of his stock was purchased in a private transaction the following year by Sheikh Mohammed for a reported £35 million.
Brocade was a 1981-foaled daughter of Habitat bred by Leigh, then operating out of Cayton Park Stud in Berkshire (bought by Juddmonte in 1982), out of his Runnymede mare Canton Silk. She was a talented filly herself, winning the 1985 Prix de la Foret, but went on excel to even greater effect at stud.
Three of her first four foals were Group or Graded winners. Her first, the Shirley Heights filly Free At Last, was a Grade 3 winner in California and went on to produce Grade 2 scorer Coretta, herself dam of Sarah and Robin Leigh’s Shared Dreams, a Listed winner at Saratoga. Her second foal, Zabar, from the first crop of Dancing Brave, was a multiple Group 3 winner while her fourth was none other than Barathea, who was saddled by Cumani to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Irish 2,000 Guineas.
In later years, his sister Gossamer carried Leigh’s colours to victory in the Fillies’ Mile and Irish 1,000 Guineas, while a half-sister, the Listed-placed Bombazine, bred Group 2 winner Armure alongside Listed winners Berlin Berlin, Seta and Affirmative Action.
“Brocade was a horse we both adored,” says Terry Campbell, the Leigh family's racing and stud manager. “Gerald and I were both present when she was foaled. For her to win a Group 1 just as things were getting going was great for the stud and then to achieve what she did at stud was amazing.”
Other notable Leigh families include that descending from Ghislaine, dam of Markofdistinction, who was trained by Cumani to win the 1990 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and Konafa, an Italian champion of 1984 for Stavros Niarchos who bred Canadian Group 2 winner Calista for Leigh and became the ancestress of Act One as well as the Group/Grade 1-placed fillies Summer Solstice and Summer Solo.
Leigh also purchased her half-sister, Group 3 winner Korveya, in what turned out to be a particularly shrewd buy; dam of the French 2,000 Guineas winners Hector Protector and Shangai for Stavros Niarchos, she later foaled the brilliant Bosra Sham and Gioconda, dam of triple Group 1 winner Ciro, under Leigh’s ownership before selling for $7 million to Reynolds Bell at Keeneland in 1998.
“Gerald was thoroughly likeable. He put his heart and soul into learning everything he could about breeding, and left no stone unturned. I remember the farm [Eydon Hall in Northamptonshire] was immaculate, a beautiful place.
“Luca always said that he learnt a lot from him - he enjoyed his company because he was so interesting and thought provoking.”
“Eydon Hall was started from scratch. It had primarily been an arable and dairy property, and he developed it in a way he saw fit - large paddocks with very good management of the land.
“It was a farm that had also excellent drainage, which meant the youngsters could spend a large proportion of their day outside, even in winter.
"I remember one of the early purchases was Cambretta, the dam of Ghislaine. She was carrying her first foal, by The Minstrel, and the resulting colt turned out to be Group 3 winner Pluralisme. He was brought back to Newmarket, where he sold for 150,000gns, quite a sizeable sum at the time.
"Ghislaine was the second foal and then [Group 3 winner] Only was the third, and that's when Gerald decided to sell her. She was in foal to Nodouble, who didn't stand for very much, at the time, and I remember we invited several buyers to see her privately at Mill Ridge before the sale - one of them was Darley and they ended up buying her for $1 million. He really enjoyed that, it was good business."
“Gerald was a remarkable man. He took the art of breeding to a new level and influenced the industry for the better. He was also a wonderful man to deal with, a great friend.”
A final group of six horses that belonged to Leigh are also slated to sell through Denali Stud at the Keeneland January Sale in Kentucky.