Market Rally Extends into Book 3

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A Mehmas filly was a joint topper during the first day of Book 3 | Tattersalls

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NEWMARKET, UK–Like a cyclist who has been struggling into a bitter headwind, only to find himself suddenly towed along by the slipstream of a juggernaut, Book 3 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale opened with all the startling momentum achieved, against every temperate expectation, in Book 2.

Once again, the masks around the ring concealed gapes of incredulity as a brisk trade maintained all indices almost precisely in step with the returns last year, when the wider world was so very different a place.

Aggregate turnover of 5,092,700gns, through the first of two sessions, was marginally down from 5,211,500gns; but with slightly fewer lots into the ring, that translated to an average of 21,488gns, virtually pegged against 21,805gns last year. And the median held static at 16,000gns.

The clearance rate was predictably strong. Even at tougher auctions, the “fire sale” mentality has driven strong traffic; here, no fewer than 88% of lots found a new home (up from what was already a very strong 86%).

By one gauge, moreover, this session took a step forward year-on-year-mustering a fourth six-figure sale, up from three. Coincidentally, all four weighed in at 130,000gns.

It remains to be seen whether the distribution of quality in this catalogue mirrors 2019, when the second day was decidedly thinner. Either way, however, it could only be heartening for those foal pinhookers–who had arrived desperately anxious about how (or even whether) to restock in a market hitherto broadsided by the pandemic–to see that its unsuspected resilience extended into a lower tier.

After all, Books II and III are all about those “middle-market” horses that are routinely said–even during the boom that had extended through most of the previous decade–to fall between the stools of polarisation. Obviously not every vendor will be going home happy from Park Paddocks this week. That has never happened in the history of the breed, and there were 270 packages offered to the market in sundry shapes and sizes.

But everyone and anyone could share in a general exhalation of relief; could gain courage, if not confidence, for the challenges still ahead.

Mehmas Filly Starts the Ball Rolling

It took just half an hour to register a transaction only surpassed once in the equivalent catalogue last year, Tom Goff of Blandford Bloodstock signing a 130,000gns docket for lot 1367.

A filly by the runaway rookie Mehmas (Ire), she was picked out for just €11,000 at Goffs last November in partnership by Manister House Stud and Loughmore Stables, who presented her here.

“She was a lovely filly with strength and a big walk and we’ve liked her from the day we bought her,” explained a delighted Kitty Fitzpatrick of Loughmore. “Obviously Mehmas has gone on and had a very successful year, which was a huge help. Actually I have a mare in foal to Mehmas because I liked this filly so much.

“I was always confident that there’d be a ‘twist’ in her. I didn’t think she was going to make that sort of money, but I liked her a lot and I’m not gobsmacked that she made it.

“She’s come here and behaved like a queen and all the right lads were on her. Book 2 has been very strong, which is amazing when you see what else is going on in the world. We have to be grateful we’re here trading at all. Long may it last.”

“I saw her in the pouring rain yesterday,” said Goff, pointing to his smudged notes on the page. “And I saw her again this morning, and she’s an absolute star. Ed Dunlop rang me at 9:50 a.m. from Warren Hill and asked if there was anything early, and I said yes there was. Things happen fast in Book 3! She’s a lovely mover and I bought one by the same sire on Monday. He’s just a revelation, isn’t he?”

Beneath those smudges, the print was all very promising. A half-sister to a listed-placed filly in France, the filly is out of a half-sister to G2 Duke of York S. winner Invincible Army (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}); while the next two dams are respectively a Group 1 winner (Rajeem (GB) (Diktat {GB}), Falmouth S.) and a sister to another in Hoh Magic (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}), Prix Morny).

Churchill Filly an Object of Desire

The first yearlings by Churchill (Ire) have been in unsurprising demand, given his fine build, Classic ability and the sheer balance of his pedigree. And Joe Foley has high expectations of his match with Purple Glow (Ire) (Orientate), giving 130,000gns for the resulting filly (lot 1564) on behalf of Clipper Logistics.

Foley has long been an ardent admirer of the mare, having bought her daughter Main Desire (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}) for the same patron before she won two listed races at York.

“The mare was very fast and Churchill would be the fastest stallion she’s been bred to,” Foley reasoned. “She has bred fast horses by High Chaparral (Ire), New Approach (Ire), Rip Van Winkle (Ire) and Mastercraftsman (Ire): we’ve followed her all the way through, and they’ve all been big, gangly horses that she has put a lot of speed into.

“Main Desire was second favourite for the [G2] Queen Mary S. when she broke a cannon bone. We love Main Desire, she’s one of our favourites: she has a Frankel (GB) foal and is in foal to Churchill. This too is a lovely filly: she looks a speedball, with a lot of Churchill quality about her as well.”

Churchill, lest we forget, was bred from an extremely fast maternal line and the combination could indeed be dynamite. But there is class, too, Purple Glow’s dam being a half-sister to three Grade I winners including Easy Goer (Alydar) himself, out of the champion and blue hen Relaxing (Buckpasser).

The filly was prepared for the sale by Keith Harte, whose efforts were duly praised by breeder Max Ervine. Harte has been selling for the Ulsterman for “at least 15 years” but was celebrating a first big dividend from his new base in North Essex.

But Ervine himself must himself accept much credit, having raised her on his farm near Downpatrick. He only had four yearlings to sell but his record speaks for itself, notably as breeder of Wichita (No Nay Never), a Classic runner-up this spring and more recently winner of the G2 Park S.

“So we’ve had the excitement at the races,” Ervine said. “And now we’ve had excitement at the sales. The mare’s in foal to Magna Grecia (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}). She’s been quite difficult to get in foal, but I think we have her measure now.”

He bought Purple Glow here in the 2011 December Sale, for 160,000gns–an outlay he promptly retrieved when selling the New Approach (Ire) colt she was carrying for 180,000gns as a yearling.

Main Desire, for her part, made €40,000 at Fairyhouse. Not enough, admitted Foley with a grin. “It’s good to give Max a proper price for a change,” he said.

Crowded Page Still Has Farhh to Travel

The catalogue entry for the colt offered as lot 1447 was another with a distinct look of Book I. Being a first foal, he could only support a single line for his unraced dam Fair Daughter (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}). Nonetheless the rest of the page was over-run with the black-type credits of the second dam, Wiener Wald (Woodman), ranging from her son Crowded House (GB) (Rainbow Quest {GB}), winner of the G1 Racing Post Trophy; to her daughter Argent Du Bois (Silver Hawk), dam of two elite scorers in Brando (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) and Ticker Tape (GB) (Royal Applause {GB}) and second dam of another in Reckless Abandon (GB) (Exchange Rate).

This has all been the work of Car Colston Hall Stud, as appreciated by Matt Coleman in giving 130,000gns for this colt by Farhh (GB).

“Obviously it’s a wonderful family and a fantastic farm,” the agent said. “It seems like a stakes horse pops up somewhere every year. This horse will go to France for a client of Anthony [Stroud] and I. He looks like he’ll have plenty of improvement in him as he matures: he’ll be more of a 3-year-old than a 2-year-old, but looks a big, lovely middle-distance prospect; he has a lot of [grandsire] Pivotal in him, as a big strong chestnut, and obviously the sire’s stats are fantastic.”

The latest embellishment to the page came only last week, when the juvenile Erasmo (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB})–recruited out of Book 2 for a similar sum last year–won a listed race at Chantilly for Andre Fabre in the silks of Godolphin.

“The mare was Wiener Wald’s penultimate foal and this is a fantastic first foal to get her off and running,” said stud manager Jonathon Smithers. “We had a difficult Book I and II but this was a big, strong colt who was showing himself really well.”

Celebrations for Thunderstruck Pinhooker

The same sum of 130,000gns was realized by lot 1428, rounding off an excellent pinhook. A son of Night Of Thunder, he had been found for 20,000gns here last December by Troy Steve. Presented by Hazelwood Bloodstock, he will now have to advance his value again for Brendan Holland of Grove Stud.

Holland is one of those judges who can fearlessly call value as he sees it on the day, and felt that this colt would not have been out of place earlier in proceedings. “This is a lovely, clean-limbed horse with plenty of scope by a leading sire,” he said. “He would definitely have matched up against the horses from Books 1 and 2. I have been lucky with the sire and fingers crossed he’ll be lucky too.”

Holland had himself been processing foal pinhooks on satisfactory terms and stressed the importance to morale of this week’s rather startling trade. “It’s great to see,” he said. “It was unbelievably strong trade at Book 2, noone could have predicted how strong it was. It gives everyone a bit of confidence, especially ahead of the foal sales as there was definitely concern. Hopefully it carries through to the spring, too. I’ve bought 19 for the breeze-ups, so we’re at our normal level.”

This colt’s family has done well in Italy, not least a second dam who won three listed prizes there. But Adrian O’Ryan of Hazelwood accepted that much of the interest had been driven by the sire.

“It’s all about Night Of Thunder,” he said. “He has been sensational on the track this season. We brought this horse here as we thought he might stand out a bit, he was on the periphery of Book 2. We were very happy to do that, it’s a good sale and you get well paid if you bring the right horse.”

Breeze Carrying Glint of Gold

Other breeze-up pinhookers, equally relieved to see the weathervane begin to turn, were active at all levels. A typical instance of those destined for such a preparation is lot 1389, a Havana Gold (Ire) colt out of a half-sister to two black-type winners from the family of Inchinor (GB) (Ahonoora {GB}). He is on his way to Co Clare, Johnny Hassett of the Bloodstock Connection having given 55,000gns to complete a solid pinhook through Hegarty Bloodstock: he was picked up in the same ring last December for 19,000gns by Stroud/Coleman.

“People say ‘well done’ when you buy these horses, but come back in seven months and I’ll tell you if it was well done,” Hassett said with a smile. “But I’m delighted: he’s from the sire’s first ‘good crop’, if you know what I mean, and I loved him.”

Hassett was another taken aback by the resilience of the market. “I don’t understand it, this business doesn’t seem related to the economy at all,” he said. “I’ve found it hard to get horses of this quality over the last three weeks. Not because they’re not there, but just because of the market. I came here betting that people would run out of orders halfway through, but it didn’t happen and 55,000gns was not buying you much in Book 2.”

His own operation held its ground well in what had been a rather more trying market in the spring.

“Our year exceeded expectations,” he said. “We made a bunch of private sales during the lockdown. Okay, they’d have made more at the breeze-ups, but all in all it was a good year. This whole thing will end, the bet is when. [Another] lockdown would make no difference to me now: I never leave the farm all winter anyway.”

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