Foals Keep Up Market Momentum at Tatts


Session-topping lot 362 | Tattersalls

by Chris McGrath

NEWMARKET, UK — The world certainly looks a different place from when these babies slithered into the straw. A less frightening one, thankfully, to many breeders, who have been relieved by a remarkable strength and depth in all levels of the market after the global economy absorbed the shock of Covid. So while the Tattersalls December Foal Sale opened in the customary low register, business on Wednesday unequivocally maintained the buoyant morale established in other sectors. Indeed, the clearance rate of 84% was a session record, and likewise the 16 transactions of 40,000gns or more.

In fact, even if you set aside a sale that performed rather better than anticipated last year, business comfortably outstripped even the pre-Covid levels of 2019. Year on year, meanwhile, a virtually identical offering (204 entered the ring, three more than 12 months ago) yielded turnover of 2,624,800gns, up no less than 66% on 1,585,100gns. That translated into a giddy 15,350gns average, up 31% from 11,741gns (10,091gns in 2019); and a 10,000gns median up from 8,000gns (a mere 5,000gns in 2019). Just 33 lots failed to find a new home, compared with 66 last year.

And these figures, in a way, perhaps represent a more instructive harvest than those recorded at the top end. For it is days like this that can tell you most about horses and horsemen alike, and how they respectively cope with the attrition of the market's lower reaches. Many more “obvious” foals will doubtless be offered on Thursday, but the real judges were already at work and their acuity and diligence should, if only the wind keeps blowing behind them, find due reward many of these animals return to market next autumn.

Passing Every Test…

Time Test (GB) is the only rookie stallion in Europe to have mustered four black-type winners from his debut crop but here he owed his latest headlines to the people who stand his rival Ardad (GB), who has matched him with two group scorers.

For it was Overbury Stud who presented a son of the National Stud stallion to achieve the top price of the opening session, at 75,000gns, from Redpender Stud. And Time Test must share the credit for Lot 362 with his dam, Wild Mimosa (Ire) (Dynaformer), who had further decorated what is already an excellent family when the result of their first mating, Love Interest (GB), made a stylish winning debut for David O'Meara at Newcastle since the publication of the catalogue.

Wild Mimosa was confined to a single start in a frustrating career for the Lloyd-Webbers and was culled for 52,000gns to Blandford Bloodstock in this ring four years ago–despite a productive start as a broodmare, and counting two Group 1 winners (Compton Admiral (GB) (Suave Dancer) and Summoner (GB) (Inchinor {GB}) and the dam of champion The Fugue (GB) (Dansili {GB}) among her siblings. It is not difficult to understand why, however, judging from the testimony of Simon Sweeting.

“She's a mare we have to take the foals off straightaway as she savages them,” explained the Overbury Stud manager. “She has done it twice. So we were told not to let her see the foals, and to raise them on foster mares: we have one organised every time now. But she's been a huge success.”

Indeed, her yearling colt by Ardad brought six figures at the October Sale here.

“The 2-year-old looks like she might be okay,” said Sweeting. “She'll go back to Time Test. She was in foal to Ardad, but sadly lost it at 42 days.”

Sweeting declined to be partisan about Ardad's rival, describing him as a very different sire–while “almost” as good. In fact, he has a breeding right in Time Test. “He's a fabulous stallion,” he said. “And he's got a lot farther to go, we're very excited about him. It's great that the National Stud has such a good horse, I'm thrilled about that.”

The new owner of this colt, Jimmy Murphy of Redpender Stud, said: “He's a nice-looking horse by a promising young sire. I've never had a Time Test before, but this one is well-made, so we'll hope for the best. There's a bit going on in the pedigree. I thought less would buy him, but you have to keep bidding if you want one.”

Time Test had another colt stoke up the embers of the session when one of the very last into the ring, presented by his home farm as Lot 433, brought 66,000gns from Michael Fitzpatrick. This is another pinhook project, interestingly about an Apr. 25 foal, but he was certainly an elegant one.

“Time Test is a son of Dubawi and they're doing well,” explained Fitzpatrick, after signing as Good Will Bloodstock. “It's a trend that is becoming apparent. I'd like to have a Time Test to sell next year as I think his first crop will go on again as 3-year-olds.”


Hoping For the Stars To Come Out…

The market is gradually waking up to the gift made by Tweenhills in introducing the Australian sensation Zoustar (Aus) at such an inviting fee, and if his first Northern Hemisphere crop lives up to expectations next year then he may prove a very fertile pinhooking medium.

Sure enough, the March colt consigned by Highclere Stud as Lot 355 brought one of the top prices of the day from Billy Jackson-Stops.

“This is for a new pinhooking venture for Tony Elliott's Rogues' Gallery,” the agent explained, after signing a 70,000gns docket as JS Bloodstock/RGS. “He's a good physical, and hopefully there will be good upside with Zoustar. He's likely to be prepped for next year's sales back here.”

His dam is also entitled to contribute, of course, as a listed winner on both sides of the Channel. Making Eyes (Ire) (Dansili {GB}) is catalogued as Lot 2067 in Highclere's mare consignment here next week.

Railton Boards The Ulysses Bandwagon…

As the son of a Derby winner and Oaks winner, Ulysses (Ire) appears eligible to do better still as his debut crop benefits from maturity and middle distances next year. That obviously makes his achievements already still more auspicious, with 16 juvenile winners from 37 starters including G3 Eyrefield S. runner-up Piz Badie (Ire).

Some pinhookers were ahead of the curve, as they would hope to be, most notably Hegarty Bloodstock in converting a 4,000gns punt on a colt by the Cheveley Park stallion in this ring 12 months ago into a bumper payout of 150,000gns in Book 3. Demand has risen accordingly, and Jamie Railton was obliged to pay 60,000gns–the highest price of the morning–for a colt offered as Lot 279 by Bearstone Stud.

“We will just have to see how Ulysses turns out, but he has certainly made a promising start,” Railton said. “I've not been fortunate enough to have one yet, but he was a top 10-furlong horse so looks a sire with a future. Let's hope this horse matures and develops and goes the right way: I just thought he was a nice, attractive individual–and that is what they cost.”

There should be an injection of extra speed from the dam, as one would expect from a speed-oriented nursery like Bearstone. A five-furlong winner by Indesatchel (Ire), she has already managed to produce a stakes-winning sprinter in Vintage Brut (GB) (Dick Turpin {Ire}). That horse is clearly the best by his own sire, on ratings, and the mare has also produced winners by Firebeak (GB) and Equiano (Fr) from her only surviving foals so far on the track. As such, Railton is entitled to hope that Ulysses, with ripening stock to fly the flag in the meantime, will appear a real upgrade by the time he returns this Feb. 8 foal to the yearling sales.

The young stallion still has an awfully long way to go, of course, before he can aspire to the status of farm legend Pivotal (GB), whose death in peaceful retirement, aged 28, was mourned five days before the sale. Pivotal was a sprinter whose progeny often had more stamina than expected, but in threatening to reverse that paradox Ulysses is playing a commercially useful game.

The Force Is With Rookie Sire…

Needless to say, a lot of the energy in this market traces sooner to a newer cycle; to the search for a future Time Test, Ardad or Ulysses. And plenty of rookies predictably prompted an early roll of the dice.

One was Land Force, the G2 Richmond S. winner by No Nay Never who, after a single start at three in Australia, returned to Europe to cover 155 mares at Highclere Stud. That gave him quite a footprint here and he landed a couple of breakthrough punches in his home farm draft–both ending up in the day's top six transactions.

“They look runners,” said Con Marnane, such a good judge of the evolving physical, after giving 65,000gns for a February colt (Lot 380). “This is a lovely, quality colt, and we had to go an extra bid or two to get him. But I think the stallion could have some quality yearlings next year. Of course, he was a very good racehorse himself.”

But the dam could certainly contribute in that respect, too, having been placed in the G3 Princess Margaret S. and herself being out of a stakes-placed half-sister to dual Classic winner Finsceal Beo (Ire) (Mr. Greeley). She was bought by Avenue Bloodstock at the end of her career with Paul Cole, at the December Sale here three years ago, for 190,000gns.

Lot 356, similarly, had the benefit of a young dam with a useful page: she's an unraced Redoute's Choice (Aus) half-sister to G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup Regal Parade (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) and G3 Acomb S. winner Entifaadha (GB) (Dansili {GB}). Farther back, this is the famous Juddmonte family of Zafonic (Gone West), Reams Of Verse (Nureyev) and Midday (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). That steeled Alex Elliott's resolve in giving 60,000gns for this February colt.

“I'm a huge fan of the Scat Daddy line,” the agent said. “And a big admirer of Land Force. But this colt has a lovely pedigree all round, I've always loved the family. And he's a lovely horse, a good early foal with a lot of upside to him. He's bred to be fast, and should be easy to place in any sale next year. I buy for a few [resale] syndicates and he'll probably go to Ireland in the meantime.”


Tested Methods Opens New Territories…

Pinhookers seeking motivation through the toil of the months ahead will keep in mind the inspiring touch pulled off by John Foley of Ballyvolane Stud with a Time Test colt picked up in this ring a year ago for 56,000gns. Having elevated his value to 400,000gns in Book 2 of the October Yearling Sale, Foley was back to play up his winnings on a Mar. 5 foal by Territories (Ire) offered as Lot 234 by Hungerford Park Stud.

“He's a lovely horse with good updates,” Foley remarked after signing a 50,000gns docket as GHS Bloodstock. “He'll be for resale, I doubt we can repeat what we did but we'll try.”

Those updates concerned the colt's half-brother Wentwood (GB) (Pour Moi {Ire}), who has been in productive form in Australia, notably in winning the G3 Bendigo Cup H. last month. Among those disappointed to see the colt head off to Co. Limerick was Matt Coleman, who gave Foley sporting congratulations as underbidder.

Having kept that powder dry, Coleman was later able to give 55,000gns for the solitary offering [Lot 410] this week by Zarak (Fr), who has shown such promise in beginning to recycle one of the world's greatest pedigrees. He was acting for Daniel Macauliffe and Anoj Don, previously partners in the Group 2-winning juvenile Fighting Irish (Ire) (Camelot {GB}).

“He has been bought to race, and they were very keen to buy one by the sire,” explained Coleman. “From here he'll probably go to Culworth Grounds and will race in Britain.”

The February foal, sold by Stauffenberg Bloodstock, represents a rising tide in the Haras de Bonneval sire, who retired at €12,000 but rises to €25,000 next spring after including two Group 1 performers among 17 winners from only 32 starters.


Tide Remains Strong For Ocean…

Being every bit as brilliant as he was hardy, the designation of Crystal Ocean (GB) as a National Hunt sire offers a depressing commentary of the state of commercial breeding today. So it's good to see that some prospectors have their wits about them sufficiently to grasp that he has every right, as a top-class son of Sea The Stars (Ire), to add to the proliferation of stakes performers in his family tree.

Matt Houldsworth, for instance, gave 46,000gns for a February colt from an excellent German family, presented by Castletown Stud as Lot 365 and now on his way to Aughamore Stud.

“He has been bought for resale,” the agent confirmed. “He's just a really quality individual, a very good-moving horse. I haven't seen many by the stallion, but he was a very good racehorse. I know he's standing as a jumps sire, but that's not to say he won't be a good sire of Flat horses. Hopefully he can go to something like Book 2 here.”

Guy O'Callaghan of Grangemore Stud was another clear-sighted enough to give 30,000gns for Lot 268, a colt who can count none other than Doff The Derby (Master Derby) as fifth dam.

“This is a great-looking foal, by a champion racehorse out of a good, proven Shamardal racemare and with a good back family,” he said. “What's not to like? Simple as that. Crystal Ocean was a top racehorse by a brilliant stallion.”

Crystal Ocean has made a strong start in his “day job” and ended the recent Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale third in the averages at €35,257 for 30 lots sold, with a top price of €120,000.

A more conventional commercial newcomer to register a decent early strike was Tally-Ho's Inns Of Court (Ire), whose son out of a half-sister to Ivawood (Ire) (Zebedee {GB}) from Highfort Stud [Lot 431] made 49,000gns from Trev Group.

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