Big autumn sales show demand is still growing for European bloodstock

A British auction record was broken when Just The Judge sold for 4.5 million guineas at Tattersalls. Photo: Tattersalls.

Nancy Sexton takes an overview of notable recent auctions at Goffs and Tattersalls.

Last year’s edition of the Tattersalls December Sale, which featured a number of star lots, was always going to be a tough act to follow, but while returns at the 2014 renewal dropped from last year, it did provide the highest priced filly in British auction history.

This year’s E. P. Taylor Stakes heroine Just The Judge, who handed Qatar Racing a first classic success in the 2013 Irish 1,000 Guineas, was widely expected to top the week, and she didn’t disappoint. Following a protracted battle with Barry Weisbord, taking instructions via phone, the hammer came down at 4.5 million guineas ($7.39 million) in favour of Sheikh Fahad of Qatar Racing, which had previously owned the filly in partnership with the Sangster family.

Her sale marked the beginning of a new venture between Qatar Racing and the China Horse Club, and plans call for the 4-year-old Lawman filly to return to Charlie Hills, who has saddled her to win five races and nearly £700,000 ($1.09 million) in prize-money.

"They [the China Horse Club] are taking the share that belonged to the Sangsters, and it means we can race the filly for another year and then send her to the world's finest stallions,” said Sheikh Fahad’s racing advisor David Redvers.

"She's sound and has been running as well as ever all year. Only a month ago she won the E.P. Taylor Stakes. I cannot wait to send her to stud in a year's time, but in the meantime she can race at the top level around the world."

Just The Judge was one of three lots to make a million guineas or more during a week that was typically international.

Agent Hugo Lascelles went to 1.1 million guineas ($1.81 million) on behalf of Claiborne Farm for Long View, a winning Galileo half-sister to 2,000 Guineas winner Golan and Derby runner-up Tartan Bearer. From a famous Ballymacoll family, she was bought as a potential mate for the farm’s flagship stallion War Front.

On what was a busy day for Lascelles, the agent also signed at 1.8 million guineas ($2.96 million) on behalf of an undisclosed breeder for G3 winner Ladys First.

The Dutch Art mare had previously changed hands for 650,000 guineas ($1.06 million) to Blandford Bloodstock at last year’s December Sale. That was a hefty price tag in its own right but, as the only mare catalogued in foal to Galileo this time around, she more than repaid the decision of her connections to invest in high stakes.

Australian and Japanese buyers assumed their usual prominence - for instance, Japanese operation KI Farm, owned by Yuko Nakamura, went to 675,000 guineas ($1.1 million) for the beautifully-bred Half Moon - but particularly noticeable was the increase in the number of buyers from America.

Agent Justin Casse signed for Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Esentepe, who topped the opening day at 525,000 guineas ($860,000) in foal to Frankel, while Charlie Gordon-Watson went to 850,000 guineas ($1.39 million) on behalf of Greg Goodman for Windsurfing, a Smart Strike half-sister to 1,000 Guineas winner Virginia Waters also in foal to Frankel.

American buyers were even more prominent during the third session, however, when walking away with each of the top three lots, all of whom hailed from Juddmonte.

They were led by Posset, an unraced sister to Midday who sold to John and Tanya Gunther of Glennwood Farm for 625,000 guineas ($1.02 million). Michael and Reiko Baum of Man O’War Farm and the Seitz family’s Brookdale Farm also struck, paying 375,000 guineas ($614,000) for Time Being, an unraced sister to Timepiece, and 270,000 guineas ($443,000) for Reimpose, a half-sister to Kentucky Oaks heroine Flute.

Even so, international demand for the cream of European bloodstock was not enough to arrest a decline of 23 percent in aggregate to 48,290,695 guineas ($79,301,964). For all the excitement of the big sales such as Just The Judge, this year’s sale featured several notable buybacks, among them Eden’s Causeway, the dam of G1 winner Eden’s Moon, who was bought back by Japanese owner Zenno Management for 1.2 million guineas ($1.97 million) in foal to Frankel. G3 winner Kenhope and the G1-placed 2-year-old Roz were other high-profile lots who didn’t sell, failing to change hands for 480,000 guineas ($788,000) and 550,000 guineas ($903,000), respectively.

In all, three lots made a million guineas ($1.64 million) or more compared to five in 2013 while the number of 500,000 guineas ($820,000) plus lots dropped from 22 to 13. The average fell 19 percent to 70,497 guineas ($1.15 million) while the median dipped 7 percent to 26,000 guineas ($42,700).

By contrast, at the end of November Tattersalls played host to a record-breaking week of trading for foals. Plenty of pinhookers enjoyed a profitable autumn and they charged right back in at Tattersalls to help push the aggregate to a record 32,110,900 guineas ($52,731,845). A record median of 25,000 guineas ($41,050) was set and, although the average dropped minimally by 2 percent to 41,221 guineas ($69,256), it was the second highest figure ever recorded at the sale.

For success and profitability in the ring, sire was key; buyers seemingly couldn’t get enough of foals by leading first-crop sires Lope De Vega and Showcasing, while stalwarts Dubawi and Oasis Dream unsurprisingly returned averages in excess of 200,000 guineas ($328,000).

With 20 foals catalogued, Sea The Stars was one of the more prominent sires of the week and he duly took centre stage as the sire of a half-brother to Listed winner Mixed Intention, who was sold by Oghill House Stud for a sale-topping 450,000 guineas ($740,000) to Shadwell Estates. Sheikh Hamdan, of course, has enjoyed an excellent season with the progeny of Sea The Stars, the sire of their star filly Taghrooda as well as the talented pair Hadaatha and Mutakayyef.

Shadwell also struck for the dearest filly, a Lawman filly out of Epsom Oaks third High Heeled who came close to emulating her Dubawi half-sister, last year’s 450,000 guineas ($740,000) sale-topper, when selling for 425,000 guineas ($699,000). Dubawi himself was also well represented as the sire of two foals - a filly related to Street Sense and a colt out of the G1-placed Silca Chiave - who were snapped up by John Ferguson for 400,000 guineas ($658,000) and 375,000 guineas ($616,000).

It wasn’t all plain sailing, however. The highly anticipated quartet of Frankel foals were reduced to three with the late withdrawal of Cheveley Park Stud’s colt out of Red Bloom. Then, not one of the trio changed hands in a ring that was not only packed with onlookers but national TV crews.

The first Frankel through the ring, a filly out of the G3-placed Kirinda, later changed hands in a private transaction to Dermot Farrington for 150,000 guineas ($246,000). However, for now, the colts out of Swiss Lake and Dorcas Lane, who were unsold at 350,000 guineas ($576,000) and 200,000 guineas ($329,000), remain with their original connections.

Such intense interest in the Tattersalls Frankel foals naturally stemmed from the brilliance of their sire. However, their dates in the ring came just over a week after the sale of a Frankel filly for an Irish foal record of €1.8 million ($2.22 million) at the Goffs November Sale.

The filly in question was a half-sister to Beresford Stakes winner Ol’ Man River and sold by Michael Ryan’s Al-Eile Stud, who had campaigned her dam, Finsceal Beo, with Jim Bolger to win the 2007 English and Irish 1,000 Guineas. With the physical appearance to match her pedigree, she was widely perceived as a collectors item, which was underlined when Philip Stauffenberg kicked off the bidding at €1.5 million ($1.85 million). Stauffenberg’s ambitious tactic was answered with a bid of €1.6 million ($1.98 million) from Dermot Farrington and, although Stauffenberg came back with €1.7 million ($2.1 million), he was unable to answer Farrington at €1.8 million.

The filly’s destination has yet to be confirmed and speculation remains rife as to the identity of her new owner.

Drama accompanied the other Frankel foal to change hands at Goffs, the half-sister to Royal Lodge Stakes winner Steeler. Originally knocked down for €550,000 ($679,000), she was the subject of a disputed bid and was later sold privately by Airlie Stud for €425,000 ($525,000) to British-based syndicate RBL.

Neither of the Frankel foals from Friarstown Stud, a filly out of Song and a colt out Lahaleeb, found new homes, failing to sell at €375,000 ($463,000) and €650,000 ($803,000).

On a memorable day of trading at Goffs, Robert Nataf of Horse France went to €520,000 ($639,200) for the Galileo half-sister to Toronado on behalf of an undisclosed client and Nicolas de Chambure of Canirola Bloodstock paid €300,000 ($370,000) for the Lope De Vega half-sister to Venus De Milo.

Overall, it was a record-breaking week for Goffs. Increases were recorded across-the-board during each session of foal trade, and, in turn, the aggregate rose 52 percent to €27,504,700 ($33,908,781). The average grew by 41 percent to €37,068 ($48.089) while the median increased 29 per cent to €22,000 ($27,100). Particularly notable was the number of six-figure lots, which rose from 19 to 42.

Given the strength of the foal market, it was slightly surprising to see the Goffs Mares Sale fail to keep pace with last year’s renewal, even if the catalogue did lack a few stars of yesteryear.

Even when discounting the Paul Makin dispersal out of last year’s breeding stock figures, the aggregate dropped 40 percent to €7,777,400 ($9,609,483) while the average fell 35 percent to €26,187 ($32,355).

One of the certainties in this game, however, is the ongoing and deserved popularity of the draft from the Aga Khan Studs. His consignment this time around yielded the sale-topper, G3 winner and stakes producer Hazariya who sold for €480,000 ($593,000) to Oliver St. Lawrence, as well as G1 producer Shalamantika, who sold to the BBA Ireland for €200,000 ($247,000).

Aga Khan blood also featured in the background of Listed winner Dalkova, a Galileo relation to Darshaan who was knocked down to Darley Stud Management for €370,000 ($457,000).

It is fair to say that the breeding stock on offer at Goffs and Tattersalls lacked some of the stars available in recent years. That was reflected in the various figures, but at the same time international demand for European bloodstock is fierce and remains on the increase. It is widely acknowledged that many of the best stallions stand in Europe, and as long as that remains the case, that demand isn’t likely to slacken off soon.  

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