The shockwaves that reverberated around Keeneland a few days ago when Godolphin purchased yearlings by Coolmore sires reached seismic proportions in the early stages of the Goffs Orby Sale in Kildare on Tuesday.
This time Sheikh Mohammed's buying team, marshalled by John Gosden, outbid Coolmore themselves at €1.2 million for a filly by none other than Galileo. The Sheikh's refusal to bid at auction for the stock of the County Tipperary farm's perennial champion stallion has been widely considered the most conspicuous price, to his own operation, of his decade-long boycott. But whether by coincidence or not, there has evidently been a change of strategy since the resignation in June of the Sheikh's long-serving senior bloodstock adviser John Ferguson.
Huddled on the third tier of the auditorium, Gosden – accompanied by Anthony Stroud and David Loder – delivered short nods that saw the price for the Ballylinch Stud-consigned filly, the first foal of L'Amour De Ma Vie, begin a steep upward trajectory.
All the while, stood directly below Gosden and his cohorts, was Coolmore's MV Magnier, who went toe to toe with his rivals until a knockout bid of €1.2m saw Henry Beeby bring the gavel down to a dumbstruck auditorium.
"David, John and I all thought she's a very athletic filly," was all a tight-lipped Anthony Stroud said after signing the docket. "She's from a good racemare and from a very good stud. She's the sort of filly that will add to what we already have at Godolphin. The choke was out so we couldn't have gone much further."
There were distinct shades of a bygone era with Godolphin and Coolmore clashing in the sales ring, with Ferguson's acquisition of Marina Gamba at Tattersalls back in 2004 the last time that a yearling by Galileo was picked up by Sheikh Mohammed at public auction.
There had been some speculation that Godolphin would buy a yearling by Galileo at the Arqana August Sale. That scenario failed to materialise, but Sheikh Mohammed's team did go on to secure the progeny of various Coolmore stallions at Keeneland, namely Australia, Scat Daddy, Lookin At Lucky and Uncle Mo.