By Emma Berry
NEWMARKET, UK–As the prices dipped from Friday's bumper session to a more modest level, so did Newmarket's weather, which settled into relentless icy rain for almost the entire concluding session of foals at Park Paddocks.
Such gloomy exterior conditions could not dim the demand for bloodstock in the ring, however. We're not even into December yet, but Tattersalls can be satisfied with heartening levels of trade at the halfway house of its lengthy December Sale, with just four days of fillies and mares to come from Monday.
On Friday, Genesis Green Stud's Dubawi (Ire) colt brought the hammer down at a whopping 1.8 million gns, a sum not seen for a foal at Tattersalls, or anywhere in Europe, since Urban Sea's daughter My Typhoon (Ire) (Giant's Causeway) sold for the same price 19 years ago. And that had only even been bettered once, five years earlier, when Padua's Pride (Ire) (Caerleon), a sister to Generous, reached an eye-watering 2.5 million gns.
“The highest-priced foal sold in Europe since 2002, 14 of the 15 highest-priced foals sold in Europe this year, turnover in excess of 30 million guineas and a clearance rate bettered only twice this century are all impressive statistics reinforcing the status of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale as the premier sale of its kind in Europe,” said Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony as the sale drew to a close.
“The obvious highlight of the past four days was the spectacular sale of the Swinburn family's outstanding Dubawi colt out of their wonderful mare Madonna Dell'orto for 1.8 million guineas–the highest price for a foal in Europe and North America this year–but the real feature of the 2021 renewal of Europe's premier foal sale has been the unrelenting British and Irish demand from start to finish.”
That feature has not been reserved for the foal market, with the strength of the yearling sales having more than once this week been cited as a reason for buyers to get in a year early. The extra months of keep are clearly judged as a small price to pay when set against current yearling prices.
This year's foal catalogue was significantly larger than last, when the December Sale was staged as a further lockdown beckoned, and as a result, 105 more foals were sold in 2021, with 734 of the 906 offered being marked as sold. Naturally, the aggregate improved, by 19% to 31,301,500gns, which was also up on 2019 levels. The median rose by 25% to 25,000gns–beyond that recorded for the last two years–and the average was up slightly, by 2%, to 42,645gns. The clearance rate of 81% also moved up from 79%.
Trade on a solid final day saw the average rise by 22% to 16,557gns when another 2,400,700gns was added to the overall tally for 145 weanlings sold.
Mahony added, “Strong yearling sales drive the foal trade and the significant rises in all the key indicators this week reflect the extraordinary strength of the market throughout the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale and also pay tribute to the endeavours of the pinhookers who have worked tirelessly all week. Owners looking for quality foals to race in the future have also made a major contribution to a successful sale, but as ever during the December Foal Sale, Park Paddocks has primarily been the domain of the British and Irish pinhookers, joined by many of their counterparts from throughout Europe.
“The sustained demand at all levels has been notable and the record number of foals selling for 50,000 guineas or more has demonstrated a depth to the market which is encouraging as we turn our attention to a quality renewal of the Tattersalls December Mares Sale which begins on Monday and showcases the finest breeding stock to be found in Europe.”
Steve Parkin's Clipper Logistics will eventually race the top lot of the final session, a second-crop son of Expert Eye (GB) who had caught the expert eye of that operation's buyer and advisor Joe Foley. The Ballyhane Stud master has his own stallions to promote but he is also well placed to make astute judgments on those standing elsewhere.
“We have supported the sire well in his first years and we have got some very nice yearlings to go into training by him,” said Foley of Juddmonte's son of Acclamation (GB) after buying lot 1136 for 80,000gns from the Trickledown Stud draft. “We are a fan of the sire, he was a very good racehorse from a very good sire line.”
Bred by Alvediston Stud, the colt is out of the Oasis Dream (GB) mare Respondez (GB), a full-sister to the G1 King's Stand S winner Prohibit (GB).
Foley added, “He looks like Prohibit, freakishly like him, and Oasis Dream mares are very good. He was bred by the Wardalls, who are very good breeders. I have seen all the foals out of the mare over the years and he is the best one out of her. Let's hope he can prove that on the track.”
A filly by Bated Breath (GB) (lot 1070) caught the eye of Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock for 67,000gns. Bought to resell, the bay is also out of an Oasis Dream mare, in this case, the winning Adore (GB). Consigned by Clearwater Stud who picked up the dam for 78,000gns out of the 2016 December Mares Sale, the filly is a half-sister to three winners, while her granddam is the listed-winning Fantasize (GB) (Groom Dancer).
“I love Oasis Dream mares,” said Brown. “She has been bought for a syndicate to resell. Bated Breath has been going well in the US, and we bought with an eye on the US market, as a yearling, she might appear to US purchasers in next year's [Tattersalls October] Book 1.”
Weanlings by two of the leading British-based freshman sires of the season, Time Test (GB) and Ardad (Ire), remained in demand through to the end of the foal sale, with pinhookers Pier House Stud (lot 1137) and Oaks Farm Stables (lot 1084) each going to 67,000gns for colts by Time Test, while Tally-Ho Stud gave 64,000gns for a colt by Ardad (lot 1173), the stallion whom they bred and sold at the breeze-ups.
It is early days of course, but Time Test looks an exciting addition to the line-up of stallions at the National Stud and his yearlings and weanlings have been popular throughout this sales season. For 2022, his fee has risen to £15,000 from £8,500, a level which still looks fair considering his weanling average at Tattersalls this week of 33,077gns from 26 sold.
National Stud manager Tim Lane is naturally delighted with the start Time Test has made. He said, “He's the first stallion I've ever bought and we've all got behind him as a board, going back to the Duke of Roxburghe, and Ben Sangster, Nicholas Wrigley and now Teddy Grimthorpe. And because we own him we've been able to look after people.”
Lane added, “He'll have to cover a big book next year but thankfully he is a very fertile horse and that won't be a problem for him.”
Similar comments apply to Ardad, whose nine foals this week sold for 34,000gns, which stands up favourably to his 2020 fee of £6,500. The question breeders may now be asking themselves is why more of them didn't use him last year, for Ardad has only 19 foals in this year's crop. It will be a different story in 2022 after he covered more than 150 mares earlier this year, and he will likely be in great demand during the forthcoming breeding season, for which his fee is £12,500.
As ever, backing first-season sires is one of the biggest gambles in breeding. Some will hit and plenty will miss, but if you land on the right one early the rewards can be great. It will be several years before we know the fates of the latest intake, but among those with their first foals on offer over the last four days, and with drafts in double figures, Too Darn Hot (GB), Blue Point (Ire), Magna Grecia (Ire), Advertise (Ire) and Ten Sovereigns (Ire) all returned averages in excess of 50,000gns. In fact, in another record for Tattersalls, 204 foals sold throughout the four days reached a price of 50,000gns or more.
The ring will fall quiet on Sunday as breeders turn their attention to recruiting new broodmares from the final leg of the December Sale, which will get underway on Monday at 9:30 a.m.