Stage Set for the Bloodstock World's Theatre of Dreams

Prosperous Voyage is one of two Group 1 winners, along with Lezoo, heading to Tattersalls from Ralph Beckett's stable | Racingfotos

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As the darkness draws in on the Monday and Tuesday afternoons of the Tattersalls December Mares Sale, it is a signal for the those around Park Paddocks to head ring-wards for the bloodstock world's version of captivating theatre.

Who present, shoulder to shoulder in the packed auditorium over recent years, can forget moments such as the sale of Marsha (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) for 6 million gns? Even her trainer Sir Mark Prescott, always ready with a witticism, was for once lost for words in the drama of it all. 

A decade ago the Oaks winner Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) was sold for 4 million gns carrying a foal from the first crop of Frankel (GB). Such was the clamour surrounding the Juddmonte superstar's transition to stallion duties that Dancing Rain's appearance at Tattersalls prompted a segment on BBC Radio 5 Live that evening. 

It is anyone's guess as to who will emerge on top at this year's sale. The only thing that is not in doubt is that there is a vast array of contenders to choose from. 

Although this segment of the sales season is collectively referred to as the breeding stock sales, there is a strong element to the December Mares Sale which could just as legitimately have it rebranded as the most elite horses-in-training sale out there. Generally, it is buyer's choice, when being lucky enough to snare one of the fillies on offer, whether or not they race on next season or head straight to the paddocks. 

A poster girl for the former strategy is Fev Rover (Ire) (Gutaifan {Ire}), sold for 695,000gns two years ago to Tracy Farmer, for whom she has subsequently raced in America to land the GI EP Taylor and GI Beverly D S., along with another two Grade II wins. Her earnings have increased by more than £800,000 in the interim and she remains an enticing broodmare prospect. 

Similar comments apply to Promise Of Success (GB) (Dansili {GB}), who could hardly have been better named. Still a maiden when sold in 2020 for 27,000gns to David Redvers and Rosemount Stud, she then went on to Australia and won the G2 Emancipation S. plus a $2 million conditions race at Randwick before being sold at Magic Millions in May this year for $1,350,000.

As this example shows, there will doubtless be future success stories to come from all levels of the market, but the introduction last year of the Sceptre Sessions, staged during those first two sessions, naturally shines a spotlight on some particularly high achievers. 

It is hard to look past a particularly well-credentialed pairs of fillies from the same stable and owned by the same partnership. Through Prosperous Voyage (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Lezoo (GB) (Zoustar {Aus}), Marc Chan and Andrew Rosen enjoyed a particularly noteworthy 2022 season, with a Group 1 win apiece for these two fillies trained by Ralph Beckett.

Describing the four-year-old Prosperous Voyage as “a strong, robust filly with a good walk”, Beckett casts his mind back over the last three seasons.

He says, “She's been an extraordinarily tough and genuine filly. I'm not sure we knew how good she was when we first ran her in the Prestige Stakes. She progressed quickly to finish second tin the May Hill and the Fillies' Mile. Then at three she had a stellar year, with being second in the Guineas and winning the Falmouth Stakes.

“So we've had a terrific time with her, and she backed that up by winning the Princess Elizabeth at four.”

Indeed, in Prosperous Voyage's last two runs as a juvenile she was second to Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}), recent heroine of the Breeders' Cup. But she had that great filly's measure when beating her the following year in the G1 Falmouth. Prior to that she had finished just a neck behind Cachet, who also features in the Sceptre Sessions, when second in the 1,000 Guineas.

Becket adds, “In terms of performance, I was equally proud of her in the Guineas. I thought she really outperformed all expectation that day.”

As Tattersalls' marketing director, Jimmy George is naturally relishing the prospect of the fillies' appearance at Park Paddocks.

“It's going to be an exciting few hours not only for Ralph Beckett, but also the owners, Marc Chan and Andrew Rosen,” he says. “Prosperous Voyage's finest hour obviously came in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes last year when she beat a very high-class field, including most notably Inspiral.

“She has a huge pedigree too. Her third dam is Monroe. It's a very smart Juddmonte family: fourth dam is Best In Show, one of the most influential broodmares of of the modern era. So she has plenty that should appeal to breeders from every corner of the globe.”

Prosperous Voyage is set to be sold on the Tuesday of the sale as Lot 1811. Prior to that, the three-year-old Lezoo takes to the ring as Lot 1776.

“She took her racing extraordinarily well at two,” says Beckett of the latter. “I think I ran her four times in six weeks, from a maiden to the Empress Stakes, the Cherry Hinton and the Princess Margaret, and she had a break after that and came back strongly to win the Cheveley Park. This year, things haven't gone quite so well but she did win the Hopeful Stakes against the colts, and she's been a sound, genuine filly throughout. And like Prosperous Voyage, she has barely had a sick day, so I think she'll do very well as a racehorse next year or as a broodmare.”

He adds, “Lezoo is a strong filly, deceptively robust, in the sense that you wouldn't have her down as masculine but the scales say that she is. In terms of physique, she's taken it very well throughout her career. She's got bigger and stronger as she's got older. To be able to come back from the last weekend in July to winning a championship race in early October takes a bit of doing. She had had a bit of a dip after winning the Princess Margaret and we had to bring her back gradually. So for her to do that was quite extraordinary, really, and unusual.”

Whether Lezoo races on or not, Jimmy George points to the genetic attributes which make her an attractive broodmare prospect beyond just what she has achieved on the track.

He says, “Lezoo does have a different profile to her stable-mate Prosperous Voyage, but a very attractive profile at that. She's by Zoustar, she's out of a Red Clubs mare, and it's hard to imagine a Group-1 winning filly that would be easier to mate. She can go to any stallion in the world pretty well. And she was top class when she won the Group 1 Cheveley Park. She beat Mawj, who won this year's 1,000 Guineas. She beat Meditate, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup that year. She is very high class and from an all-speed family.”

All sectors of the December Sale have had their notable representatives this year. Via Sistina (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), the 5,000gns December yearling who became a Group 1 star, returns this time to the Sceptre Sessions as Lot 1788, as does Rogue Millennium (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), bought for 35,000gns two years ago as a two-year-old and now a Group 2 winner and Group 1-placed for Tom Clover and The Rogues Gallery. She is Lot 1800.

A family which has hogged the limelight at the December Foal Sale in recent years is that of Whitsbury Manor Stud's Suelita (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}), whose Frankel (GB) foal of 2020 was sold for 550,000gns. Later named Chaldean (GB), his juvenile exploits gave a huge boost to his Kingman (GB) half-brother who topped last year's foal sale at 1,000,000gns. This year, their four-year-old half-sister Get Ahead (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) makes an appearance in the Sceptre Sessions. A Listed winner who was second in this year's G1 Flying Five S., she is sold 'in training' and is one of five black-type performers for her dam, led of course by the Classic winner and new Juddmonte sire Chaldean.

Among the young fillies included in the sale are the group-winning juveniles Relief Rally (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Dawn Charger (Ire) (Soldier's Call {GB}). 

The former (Lot 1798) has only once been headed in five starts when beaten a nose in the G2 Queen Mary S at Royal Ascot. Since then she has won both the Weatherbys Super Sprint and the G2 Lowther S.

Dawn Charger meanwhile is Lot 1766 and has had a similarly productive season, winning three and finishing second in another three of her seven starts. She won the G3 Prix Eclipse and was most recently runner-up in the G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte. 

A slightly different format to the foal sale week this year sees the traditional 'dark day' shifted back to Thursday to allow for more viewing time for the last two foal sessions. Trade gets underway on Tuesday straight after Monday's yearling session, which in itself usually provides plenty of gems for the years ahead.

Following the success of Chaldean over the last seasons, the December Foal Sale has had some other notable graduates to its name this year. Dual Group 1 winner Vandeek (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) may have been most readily associated with topping the Craven Breeze-up Sale in April, but his sales history stretches back to December 2021 when his breeder Kelly Thomas offered him in her Maywood Stud consignment. This year, in Thomas's draft of three, she brings Vandeek's half-brother by Starspangledbanner (Aus), who is sure to be one of the most heavily perused foals on offer on the Friday. 

Vimal Khosla's G2 Beresford S. winner Deepone (GB) (Study Of Man {Ire}) was another to have been offered at that same foal sale as Vandeek, as was the unbeaten G2 Royal Lodge S. winner Ghostwriter (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}). The Clive Cox trainee runs in the colours of Jeff Smith's Littleton Stud. A notable breeder, Smith doesn't buy many foals but he has done well with recent purchases, particularly Alcohol Free (Ire) (No Nay Never), who was picked up at the Goffs November Foal Sale for €40,000 and, after winning four Group 1s for Smith and Andrew Balding, topped last year's December Mares Sale at 5.4 million gns. Just another one of those unforgettable moments of Tattersalls' own brand of theatre.

 

 

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