November Memories - Charlie Gordon-Watson on the purchase of Darara

Continuing our look back at highlights from the history of Goffs November Sale, Charlie Gordon-Watson reflects on his purchase of the Aga Khan mare Darara in 1994 who became a multiple Group 1 producer for the Lloyd-Webbers…


“It was 23 years’ ago when we bought Darara but I remember that purchase very well. It was on a Sunday evening, after it got dark. Ned Gowing had vetted the mare for us about two weeks in advance and we arrived at Goffs on the Sunday morning and she was selling in the afternoon.

Darara looked very woolly in her coat, she wasn’t over impressive to look at but her appearance didn’t represent her pedigree or ability as a half-sister to Darshaan and the winner of the Group 1 Prix Vermeille. Her conformation was good, Darara was a small, neat mare with very good room to carry a foal and she was a very correct mare.

We stood on the balcony and used the landline in Peden’s sales office to ring Andrew Lloyd-Webber, on whose behalf we were bidding on Darara. David Nagle was downstairs by the door to the sales office to the right of the auctioneer and we could see him all the time. It was between him and us for Darara and she cost rather a lot of money, 470,000 Irish guineas, which was a lot more than we had expected to pay for her.

You can’t go wrong really with the Aga Khan’s draft, and Simon Marsh who worked with me for the Lloyd-Webbers was keen to buy something from his families. When we looked at the catalogue Darara was the obvious mare to target.

Back in the early 1990s people were not spending a lot of money on bloodstock and we were lucky that Watership Down was just being established and they wanted to buy top-class foundation mares and had the budget to do just that.

She has been an amazing story producing four Group 1 winners; Darazari for the Aga Khan and then River Dancer, Dar Re Mi and Rewilding for the Lloyd-Webbers”.