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Caldwell Potter sets National Hunt sale record and heads to Paul Nicholls' yard

Trainer Paul Nicholls and Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has had a number of horses in training with Paul Nicholls over the years

Caldwell Potter has became the most expensive National Hunt horse ever sold at public auction after fetching 740,000 euros (£632,910).

Owners Andy and Gemma Brown announced last month that they were to sell their entire string.

Their stable star has been bought by a syndicate including former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Having previously been trained by Gordon Elliott, he will now join Paul Nicholls' yard.

The six-year-old has already shown good form this season, winning a Grade One race over hurdles at Leopardstown in December.

Elliott made a bid of 720,000 euros (£615,850) for the horse at the Tattersalls Ireland sale but was beaten by the higher offer which was placed by Highflyer Bloodstock's Anthony Bromley.

"I don't feel great about taking the horse out of Gordon Elliott's yard, he's done so well with the horse, but this is business and you've got to do your best for your clients," Bromley said.

"When I saw this horse was coming up for sale there was only one call I made and it was to John Hales. He's been a client of mine for many years, since back in the time of Azertyuiop, and we've had Neptune Collonges and Politologue in between.

"I bought him for a little partnership they've got together, four guys - John Hales, Ged Mason, Sir Alex Ferguson and Peter Done.

"I'm thrilled to get the horse, but it is a little bittersweet because I could see how much Gordon was trying to get the horse back when he was bidding."

The horse holds entries in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Baring Bingham Novices' Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival, but Bromley warned he is not certain to line up at the meeting.

Caldwell Potter's fee eclipses the previous record for a jumps horse sold at auction, surpassing Interconnected who was bought by Darren Yates at Doncaster in 2019 for £620,000.

In total, the 29 lots sold for a total of 5.29m euros (£4.45m) with Elliott managing to keep hold of the second, third and fourth-highest lots.

"I was disappointed to lose the big horse, but that's the way it is - hopefully he will be lucky for the new owners," Elliott said. "Pied Piper is coming back and we have got all the ones we wanted apart from Caldwell Potter.

"Staffordshire Knot is an exciting six-year-old and we are delighted he is coming back to us. The horses all looked great - we only had a week's notice for this sale and it is a credit to the staff.

"We can get back to concentrating on the day job now."