Tattersalls December Concludes: 'Certain Sectors are Facing a Headwind'

Elite fillies and mares remained in demand | Tattersalls


For only the second time in its history, Tattersalls has accrued annual turnover in excess of 350 million gns, while its season-ending December Sale had an aggregate of more than 100 million gns for the second year in a row. There is no denying the allure of the elite European breeding stock sales, and nowhere is the high drama of the sale-ring more captivating than at Park Paddocks.

The sales business is not all high days and holidays, however, as most people trying to sell a foal at either of the quieter days last week, or indeed a filly or mare on Thursday, will verify. Polarisation, whether between the top and lower tiers of the market, or in stallion fashion – those two things of course having significant crossover – has rarely felt more pronounced than it has done over the last few weeks. 

Breeders will be finalising their matings for 2024 over the coming weeks and it is easy to envisage that the foal crop of next year, particularly in Britain, will be reduced in size. A number of smaller breeders are undoubtedly feeling the pinch and are no longer able to justify paying nomination fees that may well be higher than the final bid they receive for a resultant foal or yearling, never mind the keep fees.

Readjustment is a constant factor in the breeding industry, and a contraction in foal numbers is not necessarily unwelcome while the BHA conducts its trial of 'Premierisation' over the next two years. It is an experiment that looks certain to drive more breeders, owners and trainers out of the game as the funding for those race meetings identified as 'core' fixtures is either stripped further or stagnates. Core is a good description, and it is worth considering one of the dictionary definitions of that word: 'the part of something that is central to its existence or character.'

Chip away too much at the base of racing's pyramid while ignoring the importance it plays in levy yield, not to mention as a vital part of the sport's broad geographical appeal, and the apex will topple, eventually.

In his closing address, Edmond Mahony, the chairman of Tattersalls, was mindful of all sectors of the marketplace, reflecting on the many high points of Tuesday evening's Sceptre Session in particular, while observing a final day which saw a clearance rate of just 50%. 

“We must also recognise that the appetite for the less commercial mares and fillies has dwindled dramatically,” he said. 

“The international bloodstock market is not immune from global economic pressures and certain sectors are facing a headwind, but we will continue, in association with our extensive network of overseas representatives, to explore every avenue to encourage as wide a participation as possible. In the meantime we extend our sincere thanks to each and every individual who has contributed to a year which has seen our annual turnover exceed 350 million gns for only the second time.

“Figures of this magnitude are a tribute to all involved and to the consistent support from so many British, Irish and European breeders which all of us at Tattersalls are very proud to receive.”

Figures for the closing day usually make for sober reading, but this year's Thursday session proved more challenging than ever. Sixty-eight of the 137 lots offered were sold for turnover of 413,600gns (-19%) at an average of 5,986gns (-8%) and median of 3,000gns (-29%).

For the December Mares Sale as a whole, the aggregate stood at 67,752,000gns (-16%), with an average of 107,544gns (-8%) and median of 30,000gns (-6%). The clearance rate dropped to 75%.

Concluding his view of the week's trade, Mahony said, “International demand is the feature of so many sales at Tattersalls, but few can match the global appeal of the Tattersalls December Mares Sale which annually draws buyers from every continent, united in a quest to acquire some of the finest bloodstock to be found anywhere in the world.

“In only their second year the two showcase Sceptre Sessions again produced some spectacular theatre played out in front of a packed sale ring with the highlight being the outstanding Group 1-winning sale topper Teona who became the third-highest priced broodmare ever sold at the December Sale when selling for 4,500,000gns to Juddmonte Farms. The supporting cast of British-trained Group 1-winning fillies, Cachet, Lezoo, Poptronic, Prosperous Voyage and Via Sistina all also provided memorable sales for their connections averaging almost 2 million gns apiece and adding to a day which produced turnover exceeded only twice in Tattersalls history.”

He continued, “Elite fillies and mares have been in high demand throughout the sale with an unprecedented six selling for more than two million gns and 29 breaking the 500,000gns mark, which is a number bettered only at last year's extraordinary record-breaking sale. American, Australian and Chinese buyers have all made a huge contribution at the top end of the market, as have the impressive number of Japanese buyers who continue to prioritise the Tattersalls December Mares Sale above all other European breeding stock sales. As ever, they have all faced strong competition from British, Irish and French breeders who form the backbone of the December Sale and there has been notable participation from throughout Europe as well as strong contingents of Indian and Turkish buyers who between them have bought more than 60 fillies and mares.”


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