No Need For Plan B as Arqana Breezers Take to the Track

Freddy Powell, Kip Elser and Satish Seemar at the breeze | Emma Berry


DEAUVILLE, France–So many of this season's Classic trials in France have been run in testing conditions but the forecast rain stayed away from Deauville on Thursday morning, allowing the breeze session for the Arqana sale to be conducted amid a pleasant mix of sun and breeze on ground that looked forgiving and fair. 

Certainly the various consignors appeared to have a pretty relaxed air about them as their horses galloped on the back stretch of the racecourse in front of a decent-sized crowd gathered on the makeshift grandstand.

“The ground has been prepared beautifully. I'm very happy with that,” declared Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge as the last of his quintet of two-year-olds returned to base. 

Walking out to the watch the action earlier in the day, his compatriot Brendan Holland had commented that he'd never had so many shows ahead of the horses breezing.

“This is the busiest sale we've had this year and everything is going to plan so far,” he added. “And if it doesn't go to plan later, we'll make a new plan.”

The ever-resourceful team of breeze-up consignors seemed to have everything under control and no apparent reason to conjure up Plan B. Despite a larger number of horses amassed than ever before for this sale–185 in the book plus 10 wild cards–the breezers kept coming in quick succession with no obvious hitches. Every potential buyer will be looking for something slightly different. The unofficial times taken individually by a number of different operators were circulated by the end of the afternoon with a number of familiar names near the top of the list.

But we will hear again and again that it's not all about the fastest times, and to this untutored eye, the only juvenile in the sale from the first crop of the Arc winner Waldgeist (GB) did one of the easiest breezes, while Mocklershill's Blue Point (Ire) half-brother to the outstanding Palace Pier (GB) ate up the ground with his lavish stride. The Waldgeist colt (lot 47) is among five horses offered by one of the few French breeze-up consignors, Philip Prevost Baratte, whose team all breezed very professionally.

Once again, the Arqana catalogue has more than a tinge of stars and stripes to it. No fewer than 46 of those listed are by American sires, with the yearling sales of Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton now well-trawled hunting grounds for the breeze-up set. It's not short on big-hitting names either, with Into Mischief, Medaglia d'Oro, Curlin, War Front and Speightstown among those represented. 

The catalogue cover is over-run with stripes of a different colour: the yellow and black of KHK Racing to be precise. Classic winner Eldar Eldarov (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and G2 Mill Reef S. winner Sakheer (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) have been purchased at the last two Arqana breeze-up sales by Oliver St Lawrence, with the latter having topped last year at €550,000. The 2023 sale also included the G1 Cheveley Park S. winner Lezoo (GB) (Zoustar {Aus}), a relatively bargain selection by Kesley Lupo's Atlas Bloodstock at €110,000.

Unusually, this year's auction features an extra viewing day between the breeze session and the sale itself, which will get underway on Saturday at 11am. In the meantime, we'll be back tomorrow with another dispatch from on the ground at Arqana, where a host of international visitors has already gathered and with more on the way.

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