Arqana February Closes On A High

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Dispersals played a key role in the sale’s strength | Zuzanna Lupa

By Emma Berry

Mares in foal to Le Havre (Ire) were the order of the day during the final session of Arqana’s February Sale, with four of the top eight lots sold carrying to the Haras de Montfort & Préaux resident. Admittedly the trade dropped to a more workmanlike level on Wednesday but the opener had been a blockbuster, breaking new records for turnover and top price for the mixed winter sale of broodmares, short yearlings and horses in training, and ensuring that the Deauville sales scene sprang to life in vibrant fashion.

Irish bloodstock agent Cathy Grassick didn’t manage to tick off every item on her shopping list but she did ensure that the top lot of the day will be joining the broodmare band at Carisbrooke Stud in England, which is owned by Grassick’s longstanding client Yvonne Jacques.

“The sale was really strong and there seems to be more buoyant trade through to a lower level in France, perhaps because of the premiums system,” noted Grassick.

It took a bid of €72,000 to secure lot 368, the 13-year-old mare Mark Of An Angel (Ire) (Mark Of Esteem {Ire}), who in her racing days notched black type when third in the G3 Silver Flash S. Of her three winners to date, the most accomplished is Queen Blossom (Ire) (Jeremy {Ire}), whose three victories include the GIII Santa Barbara S. in the US and the G3 Park Express S. in Ireland.

“I love the fact she’s a black-type performer herself and has produced a black-type performer,” said Grassick. “She’s by a very good broodmare sire in Mark Of Esteem—that line through Darshaan is so strong—and she’s out of a Rainbow Quest mare. The fact that she’s an outcross for Danzig makes her appealing.”

The appeal of the foal she is carrying was also significant, given that Le Havre’s first dual Classic winner, Avenir Certain (Fr), is out of the Mark Of Esteem mare Puggy (Ire).

Grassick also signed for the most expensive yearling of the session (lot 308), a National Hunt-bred filly by Authorized (Ire)—sire of last year’s Grand National winner Tiger Roll (Ire)—and a half-sister to the Cheltenham Festival winner Very Wood (Fr) (Martaline {GB}).

“The Authorized filly is for an Irish client who will reoffer her at the store sales,” the agent added. “She’s a half sister to a Grade 1 winner and is out of a Cadoudal (Fr) mare, so that’s very interesting from a filly’s perspective—she has everything going for her.”

Boulogne-based breeder Eric Feurtet, whose stud is named in honour of the dual Grade III-winning Le Havre filly Rymska (Fr), stepped in to buy the second-top lot of the day, another well-credentialed mare in foal to the same stallion. Lot 381, Salomon (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}), is a daughter of the listed winner Farfala (Fr) (Linamix {Fr}), herself a sister to the Group 1 winners Fragrant Mix (Fr) and Alpine Rose (Fr). Since her retirement to stud in 2011, Salamon, sold by La Motteraye Consignment for Gerard Augustin-Normand, has been mated exclusively with her former owner’s stallions at Haras de Montfort & Préaux, including seven visits to Le Havre, by whom she has already produced the multiple winners Saane (Fr) and Barou (Fr).

“She will join my broodmare band which consists of 16 mares,” said Feurtet. “She is in foal to Le Havre who has been very lucky for me as he is the sire of Rymska, the first horse I ever bred.”

The demand seen on the first day remained strong throughout the second session which recorded a clearance rate of 83%. The rate for the sale as a whole was just one point higher, with 354 of the 420 horses offered finding a buyer. Another €1,395,000 was added to the tally on Wednesday. This was down on the corresponding session last year but that will not have worried the Arqana team overall, with the sale’s total aggregate being up by 85% at €5,282,500.

As noted in yesterday’s TDN, this was largely owing to the dispersals of stock from the breeding operation of the late Marquesa de Moratalla, which provided the record-breaking €500,000 top lot Graciously (Ire) (Shamardal), and from Issam Fares’s Haras de Manneville. The sale’s average rose by 50% to €14,922 and the median from €4,000 to €5,500.

“First we would like to highlight the great effort of both Haras de Manneville and Channel Consignment teams to bring the horses in perfect shape,” said Arqana Executive Director Freddy Powell. “Those two dispersals brought a lot of international actors to Deauville and this large attendance was felt over the two sessions. Obviously, the figures are not comparable with last year, but we are very happy with the clearance rate of 84%. Despite a larger catalogue, over 70 extra horses changed hands. The value attained by the big lots was particularly satisfying and unlike what happened at Twickenham last Sunday, the French players tackled the international opposition on most of them.”

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