Omens Stronger Than Ever As Tattersalls October Approaches

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Book 1 graduate St Mark's Basilica | Scoop Dyga

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Best horse in the world. Check. Top-rated miler. Check. The only two horses to win three Group 1 races in three different countries in 2021. Check. Highest-rated turf horse in America. Check. Most exciting juvenile in Europe. Check.

When a sale can boast all of these as its graduates in a single season then it's not doing badly at all, but then the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale–and Book 1 in particular–has long been a world leader, both for its results and for its pull of potential buyers from across the globe. But even by the sale's own lofty standards, the results of the yearlings to have passed under the watchful eye of the Tattersalls fox during the first week of October have reached another level in this first year of semi-normality following the pandemic.

Make no mistake, what happens on the racecourse is far more important than any blockbuster results in the sales ring. Performance is the driver for that investment, and while the sport continues to attract fresh investors even as we lose some old, beloved patrons, it makes sense that those with the means to attempt to gather nascent Thoroughbred excellence will turn to the source of such current luminaries as St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}), Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), Domestic Spending (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}).

“Every now and then even we're surprised by the extraordinary quality and success that comes out of Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, and 2021 really has been fairly incredible. Not a weekend goes by without something new to shout about, something new to focus on,” says Tattersalls's marketing director Jimmy George as he and his team in Newmarket draw breath between a lively first edition of the Somerville Yearling Sale and the start of two weeks of frenetic activity for the October Sale from Oct. 5.

He continues, “St Mark's Basilica is the most amazing flagship for the October Yearling Sale. He hasn't been beaten since he won the Dewhurst. I mean this is a very serious horse with a huge pedigree, and I think he sums up what Book 1 is about. It's where the owners come to find the best horses with the best pedigrees and he is the epitome of that, as is Hurricane Lane.”

St Mark's Basilica is not exactly an everyman horse. In his yearling class of 2019, the son of French champion sire Siyouni was one of 10 Book 1 horses to sell for a seven-figure sum, though his price of 1.3 million gns was a little over a third of that paid for the top lot that year. Hurricane Lane looks a bargain now for Godolphin, who bought him from his breeder Philippa Cooper at 200,000gns, while fellow Group 1-winning graduates of that same sale include Pretty Gorgeous (Ire), Aunt Pearl (Ire), Campanelle (Ire) and Teona (GB). The year before Palace Pier had commanded a 600,000gns price tag. Again, he was expensive, but not when one considers his immense value now as one of the most enticing stallion prospects of 2022.

International Appeal

It is at this level of the market more than any other that yearlings are not merely future racehorses but foundation mares and stallions in the making. At least that's the hope. And the array of top-level pedigrees on offer is all the draw needed to lure an international buying bench.

“A recurring feature for Book 1 that has become even more pronounced in the last five to 10 years is the particular success in Australia and North America,” notes George. “I think in both cases, we've got something that isn't readily available in their home countries. So for Australians, it is being able to buy yearlings that are capable of actually staying further than a mile. And that's not a criticism, it's an observation of the way the breed has evolved in Australia, and the emphasis on speed, and the make and shape of most of the stallions. But a lot of their middle-distance races are the most valuable races in their calendar by a wide margin. So it was a logical extension to buy those horses in training, and then to move to the next step and focus on buying them as yearlings. And the guys doing it have done incredibly well.”

Russian Camelot (Ire) became one of the poster boys for the sale, and of the Group 1 winners to have emerged from Book 1 during the 2020 season, he was also the least expensively bought at 120,000gns by Jeremy Brummitt for a syndicate with trainer Danny O'Brien. Having made history as the first northern hemisphere-bred horse to win a Derby in Australia, the son of Camelot (GB) is now at Widden Stud and has covered around 140 mares this year.

“Russian Camelot was the best possible advertisement for the October Yearling Sale in Australia,” George adds. “That sort of success can't fail to spread the word and catch the attention of buyers, and that success breeds success.”

Australia doesn't have the monopoly, however, and anyone who followed the turf racing at Saratoga this summer will have spotted an undeniably familiar ring to some of the pedigrees. As Bill Finley outlined in these pages recently, Tattersalls graduates have dominated the grass fixtures at the Spa, and there has been notable success at the Breeders' Cup, too.

“I think there's two strands to that in some ways,” says George, who has recently returned from Saratoga. “One, again, it reflects the quality of the stock that the buyers will find at Book 1, but also it's a tribute to these guys who've come over from America with a game plan. We're really fortunate with the stallions that we have at the moment in Europe. The current top 10 sires in Britain and Ireland, some of them are game changers in any era, but they're all in there together at the moment, the likes of Frankel (GB), Galileo (Ire), Dubawi (Ire), Sea The Stars (Ire), Lope De Vega (Ire), Dark Angel (Ire), Kingman (GB). They're real superstars.”

He continues, “And these guys came over, they focused on the quality, they focused on a sector of the market that they felt provided them with a good chance of being competitive and getting value for money, and their results have been phenomenal. In particular, it's the Mike Ryan, Chad Brown, Seth Klarman, Peter Brant axis. They were the pioneers in the recent wave of American interest and you can only applaud them. And obviously, their success has caught the attention of other folk in America. Last year, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf was won by Aunt Pearl (Ire), who was the second Book 1 filly to win that particular race in three years [after Newspaperofrecord (Ire)]. Liz Crow and Bradley Weisbord were I think inspired by the success of the others.”

While the big prices make the headlines at sale time, the Tattersalls team has long been at pains to emphasise the range of fare on offer, even at Book 1.The launch of the Book 1 Bonus connected to the sale's graduates has resulted in around £6.5 million being paid out on top of prize-money, while a recent notable double Tattersalls graduate picked up an extra £125,000 bonus for being a Group 1-winning graduate of the Craven Breeze-up Sale. The horse in question is Godolphin's unbeaten Native Trail, who was bought last October for 67,000gns by breeze-up pinhooker Norman Williamson and Mags O'Toole. He tops the list of 2-year-olds in training this year with the next five colts directly beneath him at the time of writing–Ebro River (Ire) (Galileo Gold {Ire}), Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}), Bayside Boy (Ire) (New Bay {GB}), Lusail (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) and Dr Zempf (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire})–all having been bought at either Book 1 or 2.

“That is another key message for the sale now,” George says. “It isn't just about beauty parades and extraordinary prices, these top-class horses are coming out at every level of the market. So Native Trail, at 67,000gns, is the highest-rated 2-year-old in Europe by a very wide margin.”

He adds, “For some, the Book 1 Bonus is a game-changer. There's a number of trainers out there who've won more than 10 Book 1 bonuses, with the highest number being 20, which is Mark Johnston. Kevin Ryan and Ger Lyons have also won a huge number. These are trainers that really now focus on the sale who may not previously have done so. There are four 2-year-olds this year that won Book 1 bonuses winning their maiden and have since gone on to win Group 2 or 3 races as 2-year-olds that cost less than 100,000gns, including Atomic Jones (Fr) last weekend.”

Also on that list are the G2 Coventry S. winner Berkshire Shadow (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), a 40,000gns purchase, as well as G3 Acomb S. winner Royal Patronage (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who was bought for 62,000gns, and G2 Richmond S. winner Asymmetric (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}), a 65,000gns yearling.

“People are buying these top-class horses in all sectors of the market, so this is a sale that has become all things to all people, and is rewarding people with prize-money and quality,” George adds.

This Time Around

What then can we expect to see at Park Paddocks this October? The abbreviated answer is plenty. For a start there are the full- or half-siblings to the young stallions Golden Horde (GB) (lot 10), Advertise (GB) (lot 39), Shalaa (Ire) (lot 46), Arizona (Ire) (lot 110), Phoenix Of Spain (Ire) (lot 130), Blue Point (Ire) (lot 257), Aclaim (Ire) (lot 386), and Havana Grey (GB) (lot 420). Also in this category is the Dubawi (Ire) half-sister to Arc winner Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) who is likely to get the final day of Book 1 off to a rousing start when she appears as lot 336 from the Newsells Park Stud draft as the first in the ring on the Thursday.

Then there are the close relations to some of this year's stars. Highclere Stud's 23-strong draft includes plenty of gems, not least lot 405, the Almanzor (Fr) half-brother to Palace Pier, and lot 274, a colt by Kingman (GB) out of the 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern (Ire) (Red Clubs {Ire}) and a half-brother to the G1 Falmouth S. winner Snow Lantern (GB) (Frankel {GB}).

Croom House Stud, whose previous graduates of the sale include the late Zoffany (Ire), offers a Lope De Vega (Ire) half-sister to the Australia (GB) brothers Broome (Ire) and Point Lonsdale (Ire) as lot 305.

One of the stand-out breeders of the year, Tally-Ho Stud, consigns lot 279, a filly by their champion first-season sire Mehmas (Ire) who is a half-sister to the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. winner Ebro River (Ire) (Galileo Gold {Ire}).

Early in the sale, Ballylinch Stud will offer an Australia (GB) half-sister to 1000 Guineas runner-up Saffron Beach (Ire) (New Bay {GB}) as lot 15, and she will be swiftly followed by a Lope De Vega (Ire) half-brother to the Classic winner Just The Judge (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}) (lot 16).

Kirsten Rausing has been enjoying a record-breaking season on the track, both with runners in her own colours and with graduates of her Lanwades and Staffordstown studs. In Book 1, Staffordstown's select draft consists of two of the nine colts in the catalogue by the late champion sire Galileo (Ire), with lot 57 being a half-brother to the Group 1 winners Time Warp (GB) and Glorious Forever (GB), both sons of Archipenko. That same stallion also features as the broodmare sire of lot 134, the Galileo colt out of Rausing's G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares S. winner Madame Chiang (GB).

Kildaragh Stud brings a colt with broad international appeal in lot 128, a colt from the second crop of Saxon Warrior (Jpn) who is a three-parts brother to Japanese Derby winner Deep Brillante (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}).

Among the 24 yearlings by Dark Angel (Ire) in Book 1 is Ballyphilip Stud's full-brother to the recently retired star sprinter Battaash (Ire) (lot 379), while Kingman has a huge entry of 43 youngsters in the sale, including a colt out of Meon Valley Stud's dual Group 1 winner Speedy Boarding (GB) (Shamardal) (lot 288).

Frankel's dominance in the sire ranks this year is backed up by his emerging presence as a broodmare sire and he features in this role through his G2 Lowther S.-winning daughter Queen Kindly (GB), whose filly by Dubawi (Ire) is offered by Kilfrush Stud as lot 223. Meanwhile, the Frankel colt out of G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. winner Persuasive (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) could be one of the stars of the Cheveley Park Stud draft as lot 201.

This is the sole year that buyers will have a chance to pick up a yearling by the late Roaring Lion, and his 10 youngsters consigned to Book 1 include lot 231, a half-brother to the high-class stayers Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) and Sir Ron Priestley (GB) (Australia {GB}). Also featured is lot 343, from Woodcote Stud, the Roaring Lion half-brother to dual Group 1 winner Poet's Word (GB) (Poet's Voice {GB}).

Caution Still Advised

While the British government's rules currently allow for bloodstock sales to be conducted in a far less restrictive manner than those held this time last year, Jimmy George still sounds a note of caution when it comes to the unavoidable subject of Covid.

He says, “We've staged two sales, the first one being the August Sale and then the Somerville Yearling Sale, with the gates thrown open to allcomers and restrictions lifted. We're still very conscious that we need to be sensible, there will still obviously be multiple stations where people can sanitise hands, etc., and we, like most walks of life, have gone down the route of personal choice when it comes to people wearing masks.”

He adds, “When the world caved in, metaphorically, last March, it was really troubling for everybody, so to find ourselves 18 months later still talking about the wretched Covid but still standing is a relief. Everybody involved in the Thoroughbred business can certainly look back with a degree of pride in how they coped with everything that was being thrown at them and how they carried on. And we focused on that at Tattersalls, as far as we possibly could, to stage sales in as normal a manner as we could. The key thing globally about the bloodstock business is that the wheels did keep turning, and we were all very fortunate, and we have to extend real gratitude to everybody who made that happen.”

He continues, “We're lucky enough to conduct an awful lot of what we do outdoors, which is a big bonus for the sort of business model that bloodstock sales have. And it's been great actually to see people back at Park Paddocks without restrictions and to feel a real vibrance around the place. There has been a feel of optimism and enthusiasm, and just a happiness to be back. It's pretty well business as usual, whilst we remain conscious that we still all have to be very sensible.”

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