The Longer Game Extends Foal Demand


Lot 691, a filly by Sea The Stars and Thursday's topper | Tattersalls


NEWMARKET, UK—Both the quality and the quantity were hiked, but the energy remained pretty seamless on the second day of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale. Once again business far surpassed the equivalent session last year, no surprise by this stage despite the unexpected resilience of that market, and measured up pretty closely to the tempo recorded in the pre-Covid innocence of the 2019 sale.

With the pinhookers meeting conspicuous competition from end-users, especially for well-bred fillies, turnover soared by 32% to 9,225,000gns from 7,014,800gns, also eclipsing the 8,532,700gns banked in 2019. With a bigger catalogue for this session, however, that translated into an average 39,225gns, up 16% from 33,888gns last year while just shy of 40,826gns in 2019; while the median rallied to 30,000gns from 25,000gns (not quite matching 33,000gns in 2019).

The pinhookers will doubtless find themselves under still greater pressure in Friday's third session, which traditionally sees a further upgrade.


The Thought That Counts

It's not often that the top price of the day looks equally good business for buyer and vendor alike, but that was arguably the case with the Sea The Stars (Ire) filly who topped the day's trade at 225,000gns.

After all, her sire stands at €150,000 and you can put an additional premium on foaling and raising a healthy foal to stride out as purposefully as did lot 691. To that extent, the clients of purchaser Richard Brown are entitled to feel that their investment looks very fair value as things stand. For Whatton Manor Stud, even so, this was an authentic “touch”, as the foal-share launch of a very young mare.

Moreover it was fitting that this should be one of those occasions when everyone could feel a winner, because both parties to the transaction had actually contributed to its inception. For it was Brown who bought the filly's dam Careful Thought (Brazen Beau {Aus})—a half-sister to G2 Queen Mary S. and G2 Lowther S. winner Best Terms (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), with a famous fourth dam in Time Charter (GB)—for the Player family. While things did not work out for her on the racetrack, all has ended well now.

“It's quite a good story,” explained Ed Player. “We'd had a good yearling sale, and we always say to Richard that if he sees a future broodmare prospect anywhere, that we are always in the market. And he found this lovely filly in Book 3 from Newsells—and he immediately thought, 'I'll have some of that money back off the Players!' So we bought her for 20,000gns and sent her to Mark Johnston. He thought she was quite useful, but she got injured after one run. We retired her, and it has now all come full circle.”

Reflecting on her elite maiden cover, Player noted that Best Terms had promptly produced Star Terms (GB) by Sea The Stars to become a Group 1-placed listed winner, among plenty of other stakes action.

“The pedigree was very current,” he reasoned. “Things were happening in the family, and she's a lovely individual, so we thought we had better give her the best chance we could. Obviously the Sea The Stars filly out of Best Terms topped Book 1 at 1,500,000gns, so other people are thinking that works pretty nicely as well.

“Sadly, the mare is not in foal, but we'll enjoy the moment. We're absolutely over the moon, flabbergasted. She'd been very popular, vetted a lot of times, and we hoped she'd make up to the 200,000gns mark. But to actually get it, we couldn't be happier.”

Player noted that the most expensive foal sold by the farm to this point was Nando Parrado (GB) (Kodiac {GB}), who made 165,000gns en route to his 150-1 G2 Coventry S. success. He has just started out at the Irish National Stud.

Brown, for his part, could put this acquisition—on behalf of Andrew Stone of St. Alban's Bloodstock—in the same category as Careful Thought, as a young filly bought with a long-term eye on her second career.

“Andrew had a phenomenal Book 1 sale, he sold a Frankel (GB) for 925,000gns and a Lope De Vega (Ire) for 725,000gns, and he's had a great year on the racecourse too,” Brown said. “We're always looking for opportunities, and she's been bought to race before hopefully being a broodmare for the future. Andrew is trying to build a boutique, high-quality broodmare band and she'd be a great addition to that.

“I manage quite a few horses at Whatton Manor, we do quite a bit together, so I've seen this filly all the way along. In the summer she was a bit 'first foal'-like, she probably lacked a little bit of muscle, but she's just improved and improved and turned into a very nice filly. She's on a very steep upward trajectory, although I had a bit of an advantage having seen where she's come from.”


French Target Petches Draft

This auction obviously owes much of its impetus to pinhookers but this was a day when plenty of end-users saw the merit of “cutting out the middle man”. Among them was Arthur Hoyeau, who gave 110,000gns for a filly from the first crop of Magna Grecia (Ire) (lot 595). This is a new strategy for the French agent, whose clients have clearly decided that a year's keep will ultimately represent a saving.

“She is to race, she'll go to the owner's farm in France,” Hoyeau explained. “We were looking for fillies, it's been tough to buy yearlings this year so we're trying to find a bit of value, to buy some foals and get them into the system. They may eventually be bred from, we'll have to see how good they are, but buying as foals is really a response to the strength of the yearling market more than anything. This is a lovely, scopey filly, a good mover, with a good mix of [grandsire] Invincible Spirit (Ire) and [damsire] Fastnet Rock (Aus).”

Consigned by Petches Farm, the filly represents an accomplished international family—most notably a second dam whose siblings include multiple group winner/G1 Sussex S. runner-up Nayyir (GB) (Indian Ridge {Ire}) and G1 St Leger runner-up Highest (Ire) (Selkirk). Her dam, who won in a light career for Willie Mullins, was acquired for 80,000gns here three years ago.

All three of the farm's draft in this session will cross the Channel, as Hoyeau also gave 45,000gns for its Calyx (GB) filly (lot 597) while Fairway Partners went to 80,000gns for the colt offered in between, a Masar (Ire) half-brother (lot 596) to the stakes-placed dam of those hardy stayers Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) and Sir Ron Priestley (GB) (Australia {GB}).

Simon Venner, whose father Paul owns the farm, was delighted with their export trade. “The Magna Grecia filly has been stunning since day one, knockout, very straightforward,” he said. “We got her into prep and she never put a foot wrong. Every time she came out of the box, she just marched around.

“The Masar colt is a different type, and looks like he should from the family. I was a little unsure how popular he would be as a foal and slightly surprised how busy he has been. The Calyx has a lovely temperament, again she just came out and walked, just lovely and relaxed. They've been prepped very well by the new team under Ollie [Costello], so very well done to them. It's hard work up here, for them and the foals, and they've done a great job.”

Magna Grecia, incidentally, returned another handsome yield on his €22,500 start-up fee (now offered at €17,500) when Tom Malone gave 100,000gns for lot 649, a March colt from Glashare House Stud. The agent explained that he was acting on behalf of Megan Nicholls, who had picked him out but could not stay for his arrival in the ring.

“He's been bought for Roger Peel,” Malone added. “He'll board at Branton Court Stud, and will be re-consigned next year by Hillwood.”


Ladyswood Also Focus on the Female

Another playing a longer game was Harry Fowler in giving 105,000gns for the first foal—a filly by Coolmore's soaraway Wootton Bassett (GB)—out of Italian listed winner Lorelei Rock (Ire) (Camacho {GB}) on behalf of Alex Frost's Ladyswood Stud.

“Ladyswood is looking for some fillies to race, and we loved this one, she has a great action,” Fowler said after signing the docket for lot 668. “The mare was fourth in a Group 2 in Ireland, she was class, and she was early type: she won on her debut, in the May of her 2-year-old season. Alex is looking for a couple of fillies to go back and join the broodmare band, if they are good enough.”

The filly was sold by Altenbach Bloodstock, Lorelei Rock having originally been acquired by Powerstown Stud as a €40,000 yearling and retained after a fruitless trip to the breeze-ups. She has repaid that perseverance now, as well she might with a page featuring some smart black type, notably under her granddam, one of whose daughters gave us the elite runner and producer Jacqueline Quest (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}).

Yet another filly bought to work on her residual value was lot 740, a daughter of Acclamation (GB) from the family of Farhh (GB) and Fame And Glory (GB) consigned by Riversfield Stud. That was a resonant formula for Ross Doyle and his father Peter, who bought Acclamation's G2 Richmond S. winner Harbour Watch (Ire) from the same farm at the 2010 December Yearling Sale here, for just 58,000gns.

“I haven't seen an Acclamation filly like that for a long time,” declared Doyle Jr. after signing a 115,000gns docket. “I thought she was an outstanding physical. She has been bought for long-term connections to race, though it hasn't yet been confirmed where she'll go.”


But Pinhookers Still Mean Business

Needless to say, the pinhookers remained pivotal to trade—albeit knowing they pretty much need to have Book 1 in mind if finding themselves on the leaderboard after the first day. That seemed a pretty legitimate aspiration to as good a judge as Michael Fitzpatrick for a filly presented by Overbury Stud as lot 591, and rightly so: though an Apr. 29 foal, she had both the make and page to suggest some margin for improving even on an outlay of 130,000gns.

Her half-sister Ayacara (GB) (Violence) was placed at graded-stakes level in the United States, while their unraced dam is a half-sister by Pulpit to three others of whom the same can be said. And the third dam is Kostroma (Ire) (Caerleon), who was a Group 2 scorer in Ireland before being exported to win three Grade Is in California.

“I would only really pinhook a filly who is likely to get into Book 1,” Fitzpatrick said after signing the docket for JC Bloodstock. “It's difficult to get a filly by a proven stallion and with a pedigree. But this one has a champion on her page, and she's out of a young mare with two winners from four foals. She's been bought off a good farm, and hopefully there will be a good few updates next year.”

Perhaps these might start with the yearling half-brother by Showcasing (GB) bought out of Book II by Stroud Coleman for 200,000gns.


Moon First to Rise

In the early exchanges of a marathon session, bidders were repeatedly exhorted from the rostrum to emulate “the early bird”. But only one six-figure transaction was registered all morning, when a Sea The Moon colt (lot 490) was knocked down to Yeomanstown Stud for 110,000gns.

A Mar. 31 colt out of an unraced sister to dual group winner Pearls Galore (Fr) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), he was presented by Kellsgrange Stud on behalf of Clive and Pamela Brandon of Haddenham Stud Farm.

“He'll be coming back next year, he could go to any sale,” remarked Robert O'Callaghan of Yeomanstown. “He's a very simple colt: a big, strong horse with a great walk, he kinda has everything: we were mad to get him. He has a good page and we've had luck with Sea The Moon, who seems to get better year on year, and with better crops to come. And of course his own sire Sea The Stars is doing phenomenal things.”

The dam, who is still only six, was bought from Saint Pair through Blandford Bloodstock at the Arqana December Sale three years ago for €52,000, her page featuring an illustrious granddam in G1 Prix Vermeille winner Pearly Shells (GB) (Efisio {GB}).

“We were hoping he might stay under the 100,000gns mark, but for the good ones you have to stretch,” O'Callaghan added. “Hopefully he'll come back here heathy next year and leave us a bit of profit. Trade has been strong, you just have to pick and choose your battles and not get too carried away. We bought 20 [at Goffs] last week, between ourselves and Grangemore, and we'll be looking to buy about the same again here. Time to get stuck in and stock up.”

Sure enough, Yeomanstown landed four others on the day, notably a colt (lot 706) from the first crop of Ten Sovereigns (Ire) for 130,000gns at the other end of the session.

Though this lad was presented by the National Stud, manager Tim Lane acknowledged, “We met him here: he was bred by Andrew Rosen and has been reared at Kilshannig Stud. He's been very popular, with a lot of vets.”


Foley Answers His Own Stallion's Call

Poignant as the circumstances are, the Shadwell cull has been one of the big drivers across the market this year. But the empire was always on a scale that permitted opportunity to an alert prospector, as was the case when Con Marnane picked up the unraced Safeenah (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) for just €7,500 at Fairyhouse in 2018. She's out of a stakes-placed half-sister to champion sprinter Muhaarar (GB), who was of course by the same sire.

It looks as though there may have been a degree of seller's remorse, as the mare's first foal by Invincible Spirit (Ire) brought 150,000gns at this sale last year—from Shadwell. This time round she again produced a handsome return, with her colt by the rookie Soldier's Call (GB) making 100,000gns from Joe Foley.

“Safeenah is a queen of a mare,” enthused Marnane, whose daughter Amy consigned the colt as lot 659. “Her first foal is a very good sort, and hopefully he's a good horse for Shadwell next year.”

Foley, of course, stands Solder's Call at Ballyhane Stud. “Joe is an absolute gentleman to deal with,” Marnane said. “And two of the stallions he has there at the moment were with me, too: Prince Of Lir (Ire) and Sands Of Mali (Fr). I'm absolutely delighted with this result. I told Joe after this foal was born that I thought he was special, and Joe obviously thought so too. The stallion is getting gorgeous, gorgeous stock. I sent him two mares—I should have bought a share in him.”

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