Breeze-up Evolution Continues With Classy Arqana Offering

Classic winner Jet Setting is the dam of lot 22 from Star Bloodstock | De Burgh Productions 

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DONCASTER, UK–On paper, there has been clear evidence over a number of years that the breeze-up sector has collectively raised its game when it comes to the quality of product on offer. Many of the 2-year-olds who will pass through the ring in Doncaster on Friday for the relocated and slightly delayed Arqana Breeze-Up Sale would not have looked out of place in an elite yearling sale. The advantage for potential buyers now is that they don't just have the chance to watch the horses walk up and down, but can also peruse them at pace, whether they were present for Wednesday's breeze session, or watching online across the Atlantic.

Plenty of horses in the catalogue have hailed from across the sea, including two sons of American Pharoah plucked from Keeneland's September Sale. The first to be offered, lot 19, is a colt from the family of multiple top-flight winner Falbrav (Ire) (Fairy King) out of the winning War Front mare Heavenly Thought, who is consigned by Willie Browne's Mocklershill team. Later in the session, Grove Stud–regularly the leading consignor at this event–offers another colt (lot 76) by the Triple Crown winner, the second foal of the GIII Santa Barbara H winner Queen Of The Sand (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}).

The sole Galileo (Ire) catalogued has been withdrawn, but Oak Tree Farm has the only Dubawi (Ire) juvenile in the sale, a colt from Kirsten Rausing's top-drawer family which has already enjoyed plenty of stakes success around the world in 2021.

Lot 130 is a son of treble listed winner All At Sea (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), the 2-year-old's half-sister A La Voile (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) has embellished the immediate family further since the catalogue was printed, picking up some black type with her third-place finish in the listed Rothesay S. last week.

Freddy Powell, one of a trio of Arqana representatives to have endured the 10-day isolation on arrival in England from France, admitted that expectations are high for the sale despite the ongoing complications presented by the pandemic. He said, “The catalogue is strong and of course nice horses are always a big help. Whatever is happening in the wider economy, if you have a nice horse you have a chance.”

He was also quick to praise the breeze-up consignors, not just for their willingness to adapt and relocate over the last year, but in the expertise they have provided in lifting this sector of the sales scene to heady new heights.

Powell continued, “They are wonderful horsemen. Getting a horse ready for the breeze-up is one thing, and they are very talented at doing that, but they are also very good yearling buyers as well. So they buy a nice horse to start with and then do a good job bringing them to the breeze-up before they go on to win good races. But firstly they buy a nice horse, because that's their living.”

An early highlight may be provided by one of the Gaybrook Lodge Stud draft (lot 16) in the Siyouni (Fr) half-brother to Godolphin's talented stayer Ispolini (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}). The colt's dam Giant's Play (Giant's Causeway) was more than useful herself, winning the GII New York S., and she has already produced three black-type performers among her five winners. Her dam Playful Act (GB) (Sadler's Wells) is herself a daughter of the celebrated matriarch Magnificient Style (Silver Hawk), making her a three-parts-sister to the Group 1 winners Nathaniel (Ire) and Great Heavens (Ire), both of whom are by Galileo (Ire).

Another with a page with plenty of depth, class and stamina is Church Farm & Horse Park Stud's son of New Bay (GB) (lot 136) out of a multiple-winning half-sister to Melbourne Cup winner Almandin (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}), while the second foal of the Irish 1000 Guineas winner Jet Setting (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}), a colt by Dark Angel (Ire), is consigned by Star Bloodstock as lot 22.

“It has been an evolution over the last few years, the quality of the horses they are buying,” Powell said. “I think a lot of pinhookers have realised that buying a lot of horses more cheaply and trying to make money out of them is not a business model that works well in a polarised market. And now that means that there is a lot of interest from buyers who were not buying breeze-up horses 10 years ago but who are now very active in the breeze-up market.”

He added, “Not only from Arqana but from the 2-year-old sales in general, the results on the track are now very impressive.”

Goffs UK has already conducted its own breeze-up sale this season and it was one which set new records for average and median as well as a clearance rate of 89%. Arqana will be hoping to build on its own records of last year, albeit from a much reduced catalogue when the sale had to be pushed back to July. Powell acknowledged the help that has been provided by their allies at Goffs, who have not only provided the location but a number of key personnel for the sale to take place.

He said, “Even before we had to make the call to ask to come here the Goffs team had already offered their help. It was a natural thing that they did straight away and that's really heartwarming. Eric [Hoyeau, Arqana president] and I have been working with the Goffs team for many years through the old Goffs France so we have good friends here and it was a natural partnership.”

The sale, which will feature around 130 lots after withdrawals, gets underway in Doncaster at 11am.

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