Record Trade at Arqana's Pandemic-Proof Breeze

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A colt by Medaglia d'Oro topped the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale | Steve Davies

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DONCASTER, UK–It takes more than mere pandemic-induced travel restrictions to blunt the ardour of the bloodstock industry. A new record for turnover and median set the tone for a robust day of trade in Doncaster and, just as would be expected in normal times, the buyers' list at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale represented many nations, with plenty of help from the Middle East.

The familiar duo of Anthony Stroud and David Loder leaned nonchalantly on the parade ring rail to make their play for the Medaglia d'Oro colt who would become the top lot of the day, bidding against an unseen rival from inside the ring. Farther away still but connected via telephone, Singapore-based new player Kuldeep Singh gave his instructions to Arqana's Freddy Powell and is now the proud owner of a Kingman (GB) half-brother to a Classic winner. Other buyers unable to attend placed their bids online.

These diverse options which were hastened into existence by the blight of coronavirus have changed the traditional vibe of the bloodstock auction, with some of the buzz created by the intense exchange of bids from one side of the auditorium to the other perhaps now lost for good. But they have enabled trade to continue, largely unabated if sometimes delayed, to the enormous relief of those whose annual business is conducted predominantly within a few hectic weeks of spring.

In a close replay of last year, Arqana upped sticks and moved to the Goffs UK complex, and once again provided the most expensive breezer of the European season, in lot 90, the son of Darley America stallion Medaglia d'Oro, who brought the day's high price of £675,000.

The colt, a first foal of the five-time winner Shelbysmile (Smart Strike), herself a half-sister to Dubaian group winners Derbaas (Seeking The Gold) and Chiefdom (The Factor), will now be trained in France by Andre Fabre, having been prepared for sale by master pre-trainer Malcolm Bastard.

“Malcolm does such a fantastic job,” said Stroud. “He really brings his horses on so well. [The colt] had really good vet work so we decided that he was the one we'd have a go on.”

Bastard was a partner in the horse with Alex Kershaw, who bought him at Fasig-Tipton's October Sale for $175,000. He said,  “He is a fantastic horse, he breezed great and he has a superb temperament. There is a lot of improvement to come from him. The sale being put back a few weeks has only helped him because he's still immature. He's a beautiful horse who will only improve with time.”

Bastard added, “I don't got excited, I'm realistic, but it's turning out to be a good sale. But the horses have to go on and win for the owners.”

Strong Trade In Whichever Currency
As the sale was held in England, trade was conducted in sterling, but the figures have already been converted to euros on the Arqana website which shows, incredibly, that in the midst of a lengthy world health crisis Arqana has set new records for both aggregate (€15,219,820/£13,052,500) and median (€98,600/£85,000). The clearance rate settled at 88.6% for 109 horses sold from 123 offered at an average price of €139,631/£119,748.

Reflecting on the day's action, Arqana's executive director Freddy Powell said, “It shows that the catalogue was so strong, that it has been appreciated worldwide. We've had people bidding from all over.”

He continued, “All things considered we have to be satisfied. It's difficult to compare the figures to last year when we had far fewer horses, but the figures will be very similar to 2019 and 2018, when we had an aggregate of around €15 million. The median is close to €100,000 which is incredible from that number of horses. I think it shows the depth of the catalogue. The vendors have been amazing to adapt again–we had to change the date and change the venue–and when you have horses of that value for things to change all the time is not easy when you are preparing them for a breeze. That is why we had to make our decision early. But today has been very satisfying, especially the clearance rate, and we have had the highest median ever as well as record aggregate.”

Expensive Thrills For Marley And Cullinan
For much of the day the colts were well on top in the table but a pair of fillies sold two lots apart brought a dramatic late conclusion to the day's trade. Roger Marley had waxed lyrical on the merits of first-season sire Ribchester (Ire) when quizzed by TDN earlier this year, and his one breezer by the Darley stallion certainly did not make a fool of him. Sold as lot 147 through the Church Farm & Horse Park Stud draft Marley runs in association with his Irish partner John Cullinan, the daughter of Cheap Thrills (GB) (Bertolini) gave her vendors quite a few expensive thrills when knocked down at £590,000 following a ding-dong battle between Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock and Alex Elliot and Paul Shanahan bidding outside the ring. Tucked away in his office, Brown prevailed and was delighted to have succeeded on the horse he declared to be the best filly he has seen at the breeze-ups all season.

He said, “She did a phenomenal breeze and she has a great stride on her. She's a very attractive filly and it's a proper family–it's Chris Wright's good family.”

Brown added, “I'm a massive fan of Ribchester–there's a huge word about him. This was more than I thought I would have to give but time will tell if we're right or not. I can't say who her new owner is but they agreed with me.”

Indeed, the filly had been bought from Wright's Stratford Place Stud for just £45,000 at last year's Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale. With a terrific pinhooking result and six juveniles sold for an average of £215,833, it was a good day of trade for Cullinan and Marley. The latter said, “I couldn't have seen that coming in a month of Sundays but she has been very popular and is so straightforward. She has an amazing action and covers so much ground. I loved her from the minute she came over from Ireland.”

Lot 37, a Distorted Humor half-brother to Grade II winner Silentio (Silent Name {Jpn}), started the ball rolling for the Church Farm & Horse Park Stud team, bringing a price of £260,000 from Norwegian owner Stall Perlan. Peter and Ross Doyle were in Doncaster to act on their behalf.

“The owner wants to win the Swedish Derby and this colt will be trained in Oslo by Norway's champion trainer Wido Neuroth,” said Peter Doyle.

Thunder Across To Germany
Just two lots earlier, Richard Brown had been outbid by one of his partners in Blandford Bloodstock, Stuart Boman, who held his nerve all the way to £500,000 for a Yeomanstown Stud-consigned daughter of Night Of Thunder (Ire) for Jurgen Sartori. The German owner has already enjoyed success with a filly by the Darley stallion in last season's G2 German 1000 Guineas runner-up No Limit Credit (Ger). This filly will join that same stable of rising trainer Andreas Suborics.

“That was rather unexpected,” Boman said of the eventual price paid for lot 145. “I loved her stride and Yeomanstown Stud are not consignors who really focus on the times so when you factor that in she did a really good breeze and maintained that stride all the way through.”

The April-born filly is also out of a daughter of Bertolini, this one the unraced Catchline, who has bred two winners to date and is a half-sister to G1 Premio Vittorio di Capua winner Ancient World (Spinning World).

He added, “She has been bought for Mr. Sartori and will be trained in Germany by Andreas Suborics. This is the first horse we've bought together and I hope she is really lucky for them.”

Grove Stud Livens Up The Action
If the sale was a little steady away, it wasn't long before a pair of colts from Brendan Holland's Grove Stud livened up proceedings.

Lot 49, the Kingman (GB) half-sister to German Classic winner Miss Yoda (Ger) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), was the boldest pinhook in the book–as a foal–but the strong, bay colt duly played his part with an impressive breeze on Wednesday before fetching a bid of £500,000.

Bred by Gestut Etzean, the colt's life began in Germany and he was among the leading lights of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale of 2019 when bought by David Cox of Baroda Stud. It was thus a long wait for the pinhooker to return him to the ring but it was one which proved worthwhile. It is unclear at this stage who will train the colt but he was the first purchase for new owner Kuldeep Singh of Singapore, who was bidding on the phone to Freddy Powell.

The son of the G2 Diana Trial winner Monami (Ger) (Sholokhov {Ire}) brought up a quick-fire double of decent returns for Grove Stud. The previous lot (48), a colt by No Nay Never and the first foal of the unraced Mona Vale (Fr) (Zoffany {Ire}), had minutes earlier been sold for £300,000 to Alex Elliott and Jamie McCalmont.

“It just so happened that we had two exceptionally nice horses in early, both by really good young sires,” said Holland. “One has a stallion's pedigree and they both breezed exceptionally well. I was very hopeful coming here and I knew they could run but it still has to happen. It's a strong international sale this one and it seems to be going along so well. Best of luck to the horses' new owners.”

Confirming that the No Nay Never colt would be trained in England, Elliott said, “He's by an exceptional sire in No Nay Never, he did an exceptional breeze and he was an exceptional physical. I bought him with Jamie McCalmont for a new partnership and he was a horse that we both honed in on. I used to work for Jamie when I first came back to England from the States and it's nice to link up together and buy a horse. Partnerships are becoming more and more common; it limits people's risk and if people are prepared to do it, it gives you great advantage to buy a horse because you can pool your funds. These horses cost when you want to buy them as they are the obvious horses to everyone so you have to stretch to buy them. We're very excited by the new partnership. We looked at buying in America at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale but we didn't get anything.”

He added, “Arqana have done a fantastic job to get this whole thing going and they have produced some top horses. It's a really good catalogue and the physicals match up to the book, and the breezes matched up to the physicals and the book. Being so close to Royal Ascot is not ideal but I would just like to commend Arqana and Goffs for getting the whole thing going.”

Lone Dubawi (Ire) To Nass
Norman Williamson of Oak Tree Farm, whose top graduate from this sale in the past is the GI Preakness S. winner War Of Will (War Front), brought two colts to Arqana this time and was the leading consignor by average, thanks to the £480,000 sale of lot 130.

The colt was the only Dubawi (Ire) juvenile in the sale and is out of the treble listed winner All At Sea (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}). He was a £110,000 purchase from his breeder Lanwades Stud by Mags O'Toole at the Goffs Orby Sale.

Oliver St Lawrence, who bought the colt on behalf of Fawzi Nass after outlasting underbidder Morten Buskop, said, “He's a backward colt who I thought had done very well over the winter. I looked up my notes on him from the yearling sale. Norman has done very well with him. I don't know if he will see a racecourse this year. He has some maturing to do.”

Voute Also Strikes For Gold
A private sale was agreed between Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud and Ted Voute for the Medaglia d'Oro colt (lot 64), who eventually made the leading list at £325,000 after having been marked as withdrawn. The first foal of the GI Alcibiades S. placegetter Paige (Sky Mesa) hails from the family of Preakness and Belmont S. winner Point Given (Thunder Gulch), a half-brother to the colt's granddam Perfect Story (Tale of the Cat).

Voute said the colt had been bought for Prince Faisal's Nawarra Stud. He added, “Between us we go through the catalogue and we liked him, we liked Malcolm's [lot 90], we liked the Kingman [lot 49] and we've got him. He'll go to George Peckham to have a bit of R&R and he'll be a back-end 2-year-old.”

Rolling The Dice With Almanzor (Fr)
Alex Elliott had teamed up with Brad Spicer of Spicer Thoroughreds during last season's yearlings sales and the duo already has colts by Camelot (GB) and Sir Percy (GB) heading south for Australia. Joining them on the export flight will be lot 85, the Almanzor (Fr) half-brother to the French Classic-placed Dice Roll (Fr) (Showcasing {GB}), who started his career in Chantilly with Fabrice Chappet, then raced in Hong Kong under the name of Gold Win and, now known as Dice Roll once more, has had renewed success.

After bidding £245,000 on the first-crop son of Haras d'Etreham's dual-hemisphere shuttler, Elliott said, “Dice Roll has been doing really well down there [in Australia], and Almanzor hasn't had a runner there yet but he has been very popular at the sales down there. It's been great working with Brad and we now have three colts heading out there.”

Smart Pair For Crisford
Anthony Stroud and Simon Crisford signed for a pair of colts for an undisclosed owner, the first of which was lot 57, a Night Of Thunder colt who represented a decent pinhook for Johnny Collins of Brown Island Stables having leapt in price from a €57,000 yearling to a £215,000 breezer.

Stroud said, “Johnny Collins is a very good consignor and this horse did a lovely breeze. He fitted the profile of what we were looking for and he is for a client of Simon Crisford.”

Late in the session, Stroud was back for lot 134, a Lope De Vega half-brother to the hardy treble Group 2 winner Breton Rock (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}). Consigned by Mocklershill, the son of Anna's Rock (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) was sold for £350,000.

Churchill Set For America
An early highlight was provided by Mocklershill's daughter of Churchill (Ire) (lot 4), who was eventually sold for £210,000 to agent Stephen Hillen after interest from Ted Durcan and Sheila Lavery among others. The first foal of the winning Invincible Spirit (Ire) mare Energie Green (Ire) was bred by Ecurie des Charmes and was a €75,000 purchase from Arqana's October Yearling Sale. She will now commence her racing career in America

“She has been bought for Dean Reeves and will be trained by Christophe Clement,” said Hillen. “I saw her in Ireland before the sale and she did a great breeze. She has a good long stride and she looks like she will get a mile or a mile and a quarter.”

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