All for one and one for all

Arqana Breeze-up graduate Ocean Atlantique is set to run in the Prix du Jockey Club | Scoop Dyga


DONCASTER, UK—There aren't many bloodstock sales companies that can boast of an Irish auctioneer who can speak French with a Yorkshire accent but if you happen to walk in to the Goffs UK sales ring at Doncaster on Wednesday while Nick Nugent is on the rostrum that is what you're likely to find.

In the spirit of COVID-encouraged entente cordiale, the breeze-up sector finds itself in a situation few would have imagined at the start of this year, with British sales house Goffs UK and French-based Arqana holding their respective breeze-up sales effectively as one in England after the initial idea of staging them together in Ireland had to be scrapped owing to human quarantine issues.

This reporter hasn't been near a race meeting since the Cheltenham Festival in mid-March, but from the solitude of the press office at Goffs UK on Tuesday there was the dual benefit of being able to enjoy a flamboyant and bilingual Nugent rehearsal for the online bidding facility which will be in operation during both sales while watching the runners canter to post on the Town Moor right next door. Normality, almost.

There appeared to be a good flow of agents from Britain, Ireland and France around the sales grounds on Tuesday along with a smattering of, mostly young, English trainers such as George Boughey, Tom Clover, Charlie Fellowes and James Ferguson. Sadly, the ice-cream lady isn't here but as part of the baptism of fire for Goffs UK's new managing director Tim Kent, successful negotiations were undertaken with Doncaster council to have two local hotels open specifically and solely for people working at the sale.

“We discussed at one point the possibility of caravans,” said Kent at the sales ground on Tuesday. “But luckily we've been able to get the Hilton and the Mount Pleasant open and they are both full.”

Goffs Group chief executive Henry Beeby added, “We are indebted to Doncaster Racecourse and the BHA as well as the local council. We are also indebted to HRI and Naas [racecourse] because they made it very easy for us to plan the sale [in Ireland] and were then very graceful and supportive when we had to take it back to England. Rather than tell us what we couldn't do they have all been very helpful in saying what we could do, and without all those people helping us we wouldn't be holding a sale.”

He continued, “We are absolutely delighted to be here and the most important thing is that there's a sense of relief to be here and also hope that it might be okay and that we'll get the wheel turning again. For Goffs, we've been very pleased to work with Eric [Hoyeau] and all his team at Arqana. It's a very good mix and I think it has made the whole offer more attractive with both catalogues. We are selling under one set of conditions of sale tomorrow, which are the slightly modified Goffs UK conditions, and we are selling in sterling from start to finish.

“We have worked very closely with Tattersalls to coordinate dates. Competition is a wonderful thing but there is a greater good, particularly this year. It was very easy for Goffs and Arqana to work together because we know each other so well and to be fair to Tattersalls they've been very easy to work with too. There was some assurance working with Eric and Freddy [Powell] because we were all in it together. I think they would have been a sense of isolation otherwise but we have been able to talk. I've also had a number of very frank and long conversations with Edmond [Mahony, chairman of Tattersalls] about the market and how we were going to do this, things like the sales protocols for the day. We produced 27 pages to be circulated but they were produced in coordination with Tattersalls.”

Eric Hoyeau added, “For the breeze-ups in particular, it is the beginning of the season and it was important to get this organised for the yearlings sales as well, to give a chance for the pinhookers to recover, so we took that very seriously.”

Each sale originally had 165 2-year-olds catalogued to sell in their respective traditional slots in late April and early May but 120 of those have subsequently been withdrawn for various reasons, including private sales, leaving 210 to sell through the ring on Wednesday from 10 a.m.

A little over £5 million was accrued from the sale of 111 horses at 2019 Goffs UK Breeze-up, which registered an average of £45,570 and included the group-winning juveniles A'Ali (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}) and Kenzai Warrior (Karakontie {Jpn}). Arqana meanwhile, which usually trades in euros, saw record turnover slightly in excess of €15 million, with 119 horses sold at an average of €129,798. The sale's top price of €1.1 million was given for Ocean Atlantique (American Pharoah), presented by Grove Stud. Winner of the listed Prix ses Suresnes for the Coolmore team and Andre Fabre, he is entered for Sunday's G1 Prix du Jockey Club.

Tim Kent, who is now overseeing his second sale since succeeding Tony Williams at the head of Goffs UK, said, “There has been the feeling from everyone that we had to work together to make this happen and that is especially true for the vendors. They need to get some liquidity back into the market and they were very happy to work with us to get this going.

“Our agent in Scandinavia, Filip Zwicky, can't travel over so he's having a little lunch party tomorrow and getting potential buyers together to bid from there as every horse in the Goffs UK catalogue is eligible for the Scandinavian Classic series.”

He concluded, “There's been a real sense of community, of everyone coming together and offering advice. We've had 60 online registrations, and that means that the likes of our Scandinavian clients, and French and American clients of Arqana—people who wouldn't be able to come here—will still be able to engage with the sale in a very efficient manner.”





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