Saudi-Bound Wuqood Leads Strong Final Day At Tattersalls

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Saud Al Qahtani of Najd Stud | Laura Green/Tattersalls

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NEWMARKET, UK–There is a sustained drive by the British racing authorities towards greater inclusivity, and within the relatively small world of people who are keen to buy a racehorse or broodmare, there was certainly an inclusive feel to the proceedings at Tattersalls over the last two days. 

Admittedly we tend to focus on the more expensive lots in sales reports. After all, in theory these should be the horses, or indeed their offspring, who are making the headlines in the future. But we all know that theories don't always become reality, and that sometimes an inexpensively bought individual can thrust itself right into the spotlight on racing's world stage. Think, for example, of the hardy Oscula (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}), a 4,000gns Book 4 yearling, thundering to glory at Epsom and Deauville last year, while racing with huge credit and giving her owners marvellous days out at Royal Ascot, the July meeting and on Arc day. 

So for those of more modest means there were plenty of horses on whom to pin dreams while not breaking the bank, with at least 20 sold for the minimum bid. There were of course many at the other end of the scale, pushing the sale to a new record median of 10,000gns (+67%), and the second-highest turnover and average for February. The aggregate, incidentally, was also beyond that set for last year's February Sale combined with the later March sale, which was specially arranged for those vendors with horses withdrawn from February when Tattersalls was forced to hold it online during lockdown. A direct comparison to last year's February Sale for turnover is thus difficult, as 328 horses were sold this time, compared to 219 in 2021, bringing a tally of 5,849,100gns. The strength of trade was however indicated by a strong clearance rate of 85%, the aforementioned record median, and the average of 17,833gns, which was up by 52%.

“It is good to have made a positive start to 2022,” said Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony at the sale's end. “Last year's Tattersalls February Sale was conducted under particularly trying circumstances so significant increases in all the key indicators were to be expected, but nevertheless for this year's February Sale to produce a record median, turnover and average bettered only once, and a clearance rate of 85% is a clear indication of a robust market.”

He added, “The quality consignments from Godolphin and Shadwell Estates have again drawn widespread international participation and it is a tribute to the enduring appeal of stock from these two outstanding operations that all of the top ten highest prices at the sale were owned or bred by either Shadwell or Godolphin. 

“The obvious highlight of the past two days was the 175,000gns Shadwell-bred Night Of Thunder yearling out of Elshaadin who was the second-highest-priced yearling ever sold at the February Sale, but as is so often the case at Tattersalls sales of this nature, the remarkable diversity of the buyers has been the outstanding feature. Buyers from throughout Europe, the Gulf region and further afield have all made a significant contribution, either in person or bidding online, and the domestic demand has also been a source of encouragement for the wider industry as we look forward to a year of trading hopefully largely unencumbered by the challenges which we have all endured over the past two years.”

Spotlight On Saudi

While the Dubai Carnival continues apace, the international focus will temporarily turn to Riyadh towards the end of February when the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia hosts the third running of the world's richest horse race, the $20 million Saudi Cup meeting.

Clearly demand for bloodstock from Europe remains strong from those based farther afield, with the now-regular fairly large exodus to the Middle East continues to be a strong feature of this and other auctions. For the second day running, a Shadwell-bred horse topped the session when the lightly-raced 4-year-old Wuqood (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) fetched a bid of 170,000gns from Saud Al Qahtani. The buyer was representing Saudi Arabia's Najd Stud, which also made some high-profile purchases during last autumn's Horses-in-Training Sale.

“This horse has a little issue about his wind and other things but we think he might improve on the dirt, especially after castration,” said Al Qahtani. “He will be trained by Abdullah Mishref.”

Wuqood, a son of the G2 Blandford S. winner Tarfasha (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), was previously in training in Ireland with Dermot Weld, for whom he won on debut at two and went on to finish runner-up in the G3 Eyrefield S.

Najd Stud also bought lot 415, the 88-rated Caravaggio 3-year-old Velazquez (Ire), for 67,000gns from the Castlebridge Consignment, which offered him on behalf of owner/breeder Sir Robert Ogden. 

Also on the way to Riyadh is the former Marco Botti-trained Habit Rouge (GB) (Helmet {Aus}), who was sold as lot 425 for 78,000gns to Andre Pereira. 

“He should act on the dirt and he gets a mile to a 1m2f,” said Pereira. “He was really the one we came for. He's a lovely horse.”

Bought for €20,000 as a yearling by Ambrosiana Razza, Habit Rouge won four times for Botti on the all-weather, reaching a rating of 95 last season. 

Super Ted Is Super Busy

Ted Durcan was one of the busiest agents in action at the sale, and the former champion jockey in Dubai doubtless formed plenty of good contacts during his long and successful riding career. He bought five horses under his own name at Tattersalls to make him the third-leading buyer behind Blandford Bloodstock and Najd Stud, and Durcan was also in action on behalf of a Saudi Arabian client, Ahmad Al Abdullatif.

The agent signed for two of the day's leading lots, both from the Godolphin draft, with 3-year-old Perseus Way (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) bought for 80,000gns and Age Of Sail (GB) (Frankel {GB}) for 60,000gns.

Durcan said of the former (lot 342), who has been bought for a syndicate and is out of a Kingmambo half-sister to group winners  Master Of The Seas (Ire) and falls Of Lora (Ire), “He is a fine, big, scopey horse–a horse with a future. He'll strengthen up and he vetted out extremely well. He's going to remain here in England but I don't know yet who will train him.”

The similarly well-bred 3-year-old Age Of Sail (lot 343), a grandson of Oaks winner Snow Bride out of a Pivotal (GB) half-sister to Lammtarra, will also remain in the UK to continue his career.

Durcan added, “There's definitely demand for older horses that are still good to race at all levels. I do a bit of work for Saudi and for anywhere else I'm able to, and when a nice horse pops up there's definitely plenty of interest in him or her.”

Sydney To California 

Irishman Conall Meegan, who was working in tandem with American-based agent Shawn Dugan, had his eye on just one horse, Sydney Street (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}), and waited until close to the end of the sale for lot 417, who ended up as another of the day's leading lights at 85,000gns. The 3-year-old gelding, who has won his last two starts for Hugo Palmer and the Chelsea Thoroughbreds to earn a rating of 87, will now continue his career in the U. S.

“He's for Shawn Dugan and he's going to go to California,” Meegan said. “He looks ready-made for the U.S.–he has a great demeanour, plenty of size and is clean-limbed. He was my pick of the sale, and Shawn's too. Both the public and private markets are so competitive at the moment, and he was the one I came to the U.K. for.”

Social Contact (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}), who broke her maiden three weeks ago for Clipper Logistics and Roger Varian, will return to her breeder Longview Stud after being bought for 65,000gns.

“We bred and sold her as a yearling for 44,000gns but as she has now won a race, the boss was keen to buy her back,” said Jim Scallan, who manages Longview Stud for Eugene Daly. He confirmed that the 76-rated 3-year-old daughter of Operettist (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}) (lot 331) would remain in training for the coming season.

“She should be a nice broodmare for the future and we wanted a filly out of the mare. She has had three [winners] out of three now and we have a nice filly by Postponed (Ire) out of her in the field. We also have a nice 2-year-old in training with William Haggas, who is also by Night Of Thunder (Ire).”

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