Stage Set For Return To Action At Tattersalls

A good socially-distanced crowd was on Newmarket Heath for the Tattersalls breezes on Monday | Emma Berry


NEWMARKET, UK—It's usually a little bracing on the Rowley Mile in mid-April but we're now heading towards the end of June and one consolation for people out watching the horses breeze for the Tattersalls Craven and Ascot sales was a warm, bright morning. And, happily, there was a good crowd in attendance on Monday, with the expansiveness of the Heath lending ample provision for social distancing once the pre-approved attendees had had their temperatures checked on arrival at the racecourse.

We've heard far too much talk of the new normal. Most people in the racing and bloodstock world will be only too happy to return to the good old days of handshakes and hugs, and bonhomie over a beer in the sales-ring bar. That will take a while but for now we have a happy medium that many feared we would not see at all in 2020.

Almost 12 weeks after the Tattersalls Ascot Breeze-up should have taken place, and ten since the Craven, a combined one-day sale will take place on Thursday. Sixty-three horses have been withdrawn from the original Craven Sale, and another 38, at the time of writing, from the Ascot line-up, including the colt listed as lot 40 for Aguiar Bloodstock but now known as the G2 Norfolk S. winner The Lir Jet (Ire) (Prince Of Lir {Ire}).

With a large percentage of the horses catalogued for the various breeze-up sales having been prepared in Ireland, the consignors have arrived en masse in the UK, where they will remain for the next fortnight while sales take place in Doncaster next week for the combined Goffs UK and Arqana auctions, and then the Tattersalls Guineas Sale on July 8.

The sense of relief that finally some action is taking place was palpable among vendors.

“It's just great that the first part is out of the way and that the horses have done as expected,” said Brendan Holland of Grove Stud on Monday afternoon as his horses were being inspected at Park Paddocks.

“Even taking into account the fact that the racecourse couldn't be used I still thought [the breeze session] looked to be well attended, so that was pleasing. We're showing now and the same familiar faces are around and people look like they're here to buy horses, so we are hopeful. Obviously we've had a very anxious few months. A huge amount of work went in on the part of the sales companies, not just for this but all the sales companies, and for this one specifically on the part of Harvey Bell, and of course the team. There was a lot of pressure to put on the sale under the circumstances and we are grateful that they were able to manage it and that we were given the chance to sell the horses. I hope for everyone's sake it goes well and that when it's all over we are still in the game and buying yearlings. I'm sure we will be.”

Holland's relief was heightened by the fact that the horse who has been pleasing him the most in his work, a colt by Kodiac (GB) out of the winning Pivotal (GB) mare Honeymead (Ire) (lot 53), has also received significant boosts to his page by recent racing results. On Saturday at Royal Ascot his sire was represented by the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. winner Hello Youmzain (Ire) as well as providing the winners of the two juvenile group races, Nando Parrado (GB) and Campanelle (Ire). Then the following day the colt's 3-year-old half-brother High Accolade (Ire) (Outstrip {GB}) remained unbeaten when winning his second race for James Tate and Saeed Manana.

“There's no secret that he's the one I'm pinning my hopes on and I was especially pleased to see him to do what I was hoping he would do this morning,” Holland said. “He came up with plenty of style so I have my fingers crossed now for the next bit. The difficult part is out of the way.”

Tattersalls' marketing director Jimmy George is also delighted that the sale house has been able to reopen the gates at Park Paddocks for the first time since the February Sale, albeit with strict protocols in place.

He said, “It's great to be at this stage and to be able to put this sale on for the very patient and long-suffering consignors, and equally patient potential purchases. We are just pleased to be able to hold the sale under almost normal conditions. The ground was fantastic down on the racecourse side, the sun was shining and conditions were very good for the breeze so that's a good start to the week.”

He added, “We've had a lot of medical declaration forms submitted so people have been very efficient and responded to all the requirements that we all currently face and that's been impressive actually. While we are thrilled to be able to put the sale on, we're equally very conscious that we have a responsibility to everybody's health and safety in these slightly strange times.

“Logistically, so far everything has gone very smoothly. There's been a lot of hard work put into it by the team at Tattersalls and it's great to see everybody responding in the way you'd hope. I think that bodes well for the week and for the coming sales.”


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