December Sale Heralds Unusual End To An Unusual Year


Palace Pier’s dam Beach Frolic sells next Tuesday |


For many people in the bloodstock industry, the December Sale at Tattersalls is not just serious business but also the chance for a little end-of-term socialising and early-season stallion viewing.

As with most things in the wretched year of 2020, the bloodstock sales have been widely disrupted, so it is with a quite a sigh of relief that this collection of yearlings, foals, mares, and even a Melbourne Cup winner is allowed to come under the hammer at all while England remains in lockdown. It will be far from the December Sale as we know and love it, but plenty of business will be done throughout the fortnight at the Tattersalls finale.

“To be able to stage the December sale on the originally advertised dates and at Park Paddocks is a mini triumph in itself,” said Tattersalls’ marketing director Jimmy George.

“We’ve been very fortunate that our entire autumn sales season has taken place as advertised in terms of date and location. The market has held up better than people would have predicted or expected and we fervently hope that that resilience and determination can run through to the end of the December sales.”

The format remains in its traditional guise: one day of yearlings to get the sale underway on Monday, followed by a ‘dark day’ in the ring while foals are inspected. The foal sale, which runs from Wednesday to Saturday, is reduced in number this year to 934 lots compared to 1125 last year, while the mare sale, starting on Monday, Nov. 30, has 1108 lots catalogued for its four-day run.

George added, “People are now used to disruption to their normal life. We have had to introduce more stringent protocols in line with the fact that the country is in a tighter lockdown than it was during earlier sales this year. But the key element is that all the people that make a bloodstock sale function will still be able to participate.

“We’ve got a really good catalogue for yearlings, foals and mares to bring the year to a close. The feedback has been positive and I’m sure people will again try to explore every possible avenue in order to buy horses. The online internet bidding has been vital for the 2020 season and will continue to play a big part, in particular for the breeding stock. There is of course also telephone bidding through Tattersalls personnel. Agents have been fantastic in assisting overseas people who haven’t been able to attend sales because of travel restrictions.”

He continued, “Everybody has played their part and I think it has reflected very well on the business. Equally it has reflected the sustained appetite for horses in every sector. This sport is not a passing fancy for the majority of people who become involved. Come hell or high water, this is part of their lives, whether it’s a hobby or run more on a business footing. Even under the extraordinary circumstances in which we’ve all found ourselves enduring in 2020 people still wish to buy thoroughbreds.

“The sales experience will be different but, the same as throughout this extraordinary year, we will provide the best possible service we can whilst observing all the government regulations. The catering outlets will be doing their best to serve people. The law of the land means that it’s take-away only but there will be plenty of cover for everyone.”

Classic Page Promising Talent
With the bulk of the yearling sales having been completed, the one-day December Sale nevertheless always provides a highlight or two, featuring as it does some nicely-bred horses who have either been held back for this sale or may have encountered a minor setback which meant that they missed an earlier sale date.

Taking into account withdrawals, around 150 yearlings are set to pass through the ring and on catalogue inspection the eye is immediately drawn to Ashbrittle Stud’s son of Sea The Stars (Ire) out of the farm’s Oaks winner Talent (GB) (New Approach {Ire}). The pedigree of the April-born colt (lot 160) features 2×4 inbreeding to the influential Urban Sea and he is a half-brother to the G2 Prix Corrida winner Ambition (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}).

Another by Sea The Stars in the sale is Lanwades Stud’s half-sister to the G2 York S. winner Shine So Bright (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), out of the Group 3-winning mare Alla Speranza (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}). Catalogued as lot 7, the filly whose first four dams are all black-type winners and producers is being sold through The Castlebridge Consignment.

Champion first-season sire elect Mehmas (Ire) is closing in on a half-century of winners in 2020 and there are four chances to buy a yearling by him at Tattersalls as he has two colts and two fillies catalogued.

The sale starts with a colt (lot 1) from the first crop of Churchill (Ire) who is offered by Norman Court Stud and is a half-brother to G2 Ridgewood Pearl S. winner Opal Tiara (Ire) (Thousand Words {Ire}).

Skitter Scatter’s Brother Heads Foals
The Tattersalls Foal Sale usually follows the Goffs November Sale but, with that having been rescheduled to later in December, this is the first opportunity for foal buyers in Europe in 2021. Last year’s sale was down a little on the record returns witnessed in 2018, but that did correspond with a smaller offering of foals, and the number has reduced significantly again this year.

The top ten leaderboard last year was populated by the offspring of Frankel (GB), Invincible Spirit (Ire), Sea The Stars (Ire), Kingman (GB) and Oasis Dream (GB), and once again the catalogue has a decent helping of weanlings by Europe’s leading stallions.

“The foal sale is smaller than last year but that is pretty much in line with global trends, and 22 of the current top 25 stallions in Britain and Ireland are represented,” said Jimmy George.

One of three Dubawi weanlings in the catalogue (lot 939) is Airlie Stud’s half-brother to 2018 Irish champion 2-year-old filly Skitter Scatter (Scat Daddy). There’s a decent amount of top-level black type on the colt’s page as his dam Dane Street (Street Cry {Ire}) is herself a half-sister to G1 Dewhurst S. winner Intense Focus.

Plenty has been written in recent weeks about the good year enjoyed by Derek and Gay Veitch’s Ringfort Stud, which has bred three Group 2-winning juveniles in 2020, and Ringfort will offer a half-brother to the Gimcrack S. winner Minzaal (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}). The son of Belardo (Ire) is catalogued as lot 919.

Another with a decent update this season is Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Frankel (GB) half-brother to recent G2 Mill Reef S. winner Alkumait (GB) (Showcasing {GB}). His dam Suelita (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) has also produced listed winner The Broghie Man (GB) (Cityscape {GB}) and the listed-placed Gloves Lynch (GB) (Mukhadram {GB}). Born on May 10, the Frankel colt will sell as lot 955.

Of course a lot of the interest at foal sales surrounds the first offspring of young sires and a bumper crop of 26 have representation at Tattersalls this year. They include Frankel’s Group 1-winning son Cracksman (GB) and his fellow Darley stallion Harry Angel (Ire), as well as GI Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Expert Eye (GB) and, poignantly, seven from the sole crop of the late champion 3-year-old Roaring Lion. There are also 23 foals from the first northern hemisphere crop of the Tweenhills shutter Zoustar (Aus), including Kenilworth House Stud’s colt out of the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. winner La Collina (Ire) (Strategic Prince {GB}), who is slated as lot 892.

Richard Kent’s Mickley Stud, which sold subsequent Group 1-winning sprinter Havana Grey (GB) at the 2015 foal sale for 42,000gns, has the largest draft of foals. The 32 weanlings in the consignment include eight by the stud’s first-season stallion Massaat (Ire), a son of Teofilo (Ire). Meanwhile Havana Grey, who stands at Whitsbury Manor Stud, has 33 foals catalogued.

Group 1 Producers For Super Tuesday
Perhaps one of the most missed elements of the December Sale will be the packed auditorium for the Tuesday evening of the mares’ week when some of the blockbuster lots are usually offered. Of course, social-distancing rules will mean that the theatrical feel to that particular session will be lost this year but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some highlights.

Two dams of Group 1 winners this season will go through the ring on Tuesday, led by Beach Frolic (GB) (Nayef), whose son Palace Pier (GB) Kingman {GB}) looks set to be crowned champion 3-year-old miler. The 9-year-old mare will be offered by Highclere Stud as lot 1731 and she is one of nine mares in the catalogue to be carrying a foal from the first crop of Blue Point (Ire).

Also in foal to Darley’s top-class sprinter is Daily Times (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}). The 3-year-old (lot 1675) is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Newspaperofrecord (Ire), whose sire Lope De Vega (Ire) is, like Blue Point, a son of Shamardal.

The 2-year-old filly Pretty Gorgeous (Fr) (Lawman {Fr}) landed the G1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October and her dam Lady Gorgeous (GB), an 11-year-old daughter of Compton Place (GB), is being offered as lot 1740 through Norelands Stud and is carrying to No Nay Never.

“As always there are some very eye-catching consignments from the likes of Godolphin, Juddmonte and Shadwell, and then there’s the poignant part-dispersal from Floors Stud and the last part of the Waddesdon Stud dispersal as well, so there’s a lot of quality out there from breeders throughout the world to focus on as ever,” said George.

Godolphin is indeed a big supporter of this sale and this year has a draft of

33 broodmares and 54 fillies in or out of training, including the unraced Queen’s Opal (GB), a 3-year-old Dubawi half-sister to Jack Hobbs (GB) (1955) who topped the 2017 foal sale when sold by breeder Willie Carson for 750,000gns. The 55-strong draft of fillies and mares from Juddmonte include Arabian Dream (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), a 3-year-old full-sister to popular stallion Showcasing (GB) (lot 2000).

We may refer to it as a mares’ sale but the front cover of the catalogue states ‘Mares, etc.’ and the et cetera in this case is in the form of two 6-year-old stallions and a 3-year-old colt: Rekindling (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}) (1504) and his stable-mate Yucatan (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (1505), as well as wildcard entry Royal Lytham (Fr) (Gleneagles {Ire}) (1508A), the winner of last year’s G2 July S. The trio will sell at the end of next Monday’s session.

Rekindling, who appeared during the foal section of this sale in 2014 when sold by his breeder Stringston Farm for 60,000gns to Camas Park Stud, gave Joseph O’Brien his first of two victories in the Melbourne Cup in 2017. His grandam Souk (Ire) (Ahonoora {GB}) was the foundation mare for the Cumani family’s Fittocks Stud and has played a significant role in the success story of Ecurie des Monceaux as she is also the grandam of one of the cornerstones of that operation, Platonic (GB) (Zafonic).

“He’s a horse with a great race record and he has a great pedigree as well, so he’s another interesting addition to the catalogue,” said Jimmy George.

Unlike normal, the December Mare Sale does not signal the end of business in Newmarket for 2020. On Thursday, Dec. 10, Park Paddocks will for the first time host the Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale. The select group of point-to-pointers and National Hunt horses in training, which would usually be offered at a post-racing sale at Cheltenham racecourse, will bring the curtain down on Tattersalls’ season in a most unusual way, in what has been a most unusual year.


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