Perhaps We All Should Go Alcohol Free With a Price Like That!

This year for the first time, Tattersalls introduced a ‘select’ part within their mares and fillies catalogue, and for a first sale, they did attract some notable horses. They named the sale after the only filly to win four classics – Sceptre. She won the One thousand Guineas, then the Two Thousand Guineas before winning the Oaks and finally the St Ledger in 1902. No doubt, she would have also won the Derby, save that only males can run in the race. She is the only horse ever to win four classics.

Before the first lot in this ‘select’ sale came into the ring, auctioneer John O’Kelly had an extra lot to sell – the last statue every made of The Late Queen Elizabeth II. The lot was put into the sale by Tattersalls to remember and pay their own homage to the great Queen. The miniature statue of The Queen with a mare and foal sold for 165,000 guineas. It was knocked down to down to bloodstock agent Jamie McCalmont, on behalf of Hong Kong-based owner Marc Chan. The charity to benefit was the Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. John O’Kelly will probably remember this lot as one of the most extraordinary and may be emotional lots he has ever had the privilege to sell?

And so the Sceptre Sales proper started with the first session comprising of 36 mares in foal and fillies in and out of training. Everyone offered made at least six figures with the best of the day from Norris Bloodstock; a nine year old mare in foal to St Mark’s Basilica – Archangel Gabriel, an American bred mare who is already the dam of the stakes winning Ville de Grace. She sold for 800,000 guineas. Of the others, two of them fetched over 500,000 guineas. The first was Innevera, (750,000 gns) an eight year old mare carrying to Zaruk, a French bred mare and dam of listed winner Ottoman Fleet. The final one over the 500,000 mark was a 2012 mare not covered this time – Chrystal Zvezda, (775,000gns) a listed winner herself at Newbury.

Alcohol Free makes no less than 5.4 million guineas

It was not till the second session of the Sceptre Sale did the fireworks really begin. There were some top fillies and mares in this part of the sale, particularly Alcohol Free. She was always going to be the highlight of the whole sale and easily break the million guinea barrier. By how much was incredible. Although Alcohol Free’s back pedigree is certainly not the best in the book, she did win at Group 1 level at 2,3, and 4 years from six furlongs to a mile. She was consigned by Park House Stables in Kingsclere, the home of trainer Andrew Balding as agent for Jeff Smith of the Littleton Stud. The bidding opened at a million. All the big money men were involved and the final bid went to Michael Donohoe from the BBA Ireland acting for Yuesheng Zhang of Yulong Investments for 5.4 million guineas. Alcohol Free will now go to Australia to continue her racing career before going to the paddock and being covered, probably by Frankel.

There were another ten horses in the session which made over 1 million guineas. Saffron Beach was one such who won several times at Group level – she went for 3.6 million to Nadj Stud, an operation in Saudi Arabia and this filly will stay in training with Jane Chapple Hyam and aimed at winning the Saudi Cup before going to stud. Another top million guinea investment was made by M V Magnier on behalf of the Coolmore Stud. He paid 1.9 million for Desert Berry, a 13 year mare who is the dam of the 2022 Derby winner, Desert Crown. She is carrying a full sibling to the Derby winner. Another to break the 2 million mark was Ville de Grace herself. Again consigned by Norris Bloodstock, like her mother yesterday, she attracted huge attention as a 4 year old out of training and was brought by One Agency to go to stud at the Lordship Stud in Newmarket. The final one we mention her is the 3 year  old filly, Tranquil Lady. She was the winner at Group level and the brother to Group 1 winner this year, State of Rest who won The St James Palace stakes ta Royal Ascot to mention one of his successes. Tranquil Lady was brought by Darley Stud (Godolphin).

Outside the ring at Tattersalls

This article is not long enough to go through even all the eleven individuals who made over the million mark, but it is unsurprising that the European record was broken for a single day’s selling in Europe ever. This was the second time Tattersalls have achieved this this year. The final stats show that Tattersalls took an aggregate of just over 54 million guineas for the day, the record for one day, with average of 281,000 guineas and a median of 112,500. The aggregate was 50% higher than the 2021 mare sale on the same day. The final Tattersalls mares figures showed that they sold 80,831,000 guineas for the whole mare sale a 30% increase on 2021. The average was up 48% on 2021 at 117,147 guineas with the median up23% at 32,000. For the whole sale to include the first day of yearlings, followed by the foals sales and then the mares was a massive record breaking 120 million guineas, up from 98 million in 2021.

At Arqana in Deauville France, a couple of days after Tattersalls finished, the French held their breeding sale where the prices were equally stupendous. The sale’s aggregate for the first day this year were more than the whole sale of 2021. The first day, which was their select day saw 238 mares, fillies and foals pass through the ring. Of them, 79% found new homes with no less than seven making more than 1 million euros. The average price ended up 21% higher than last year at 244,044 euros with a median of 115,000 euros. The aggregate for the first day’s sale ended up at 45,882,000 euros, up from 32,203,000 in 2021. The top price was for Malavath, second in the Breeder’s Cup turf at Keenland recently sold for 3.2 million euros, another sales record. It was the highest price ever paid for a horse at Arqana.

In conclusion, this was an extraordinary sales year for Tattersalls and in fact, although not quite so stratospheric, for the other sales companies around the world as well. While all this makes great theatre and great returns for some breeders, the figures show that really, only the top of the market is so good. Once you delve into the returns for the middle and bottom of the market, the results are not nearly so good. It leads to several questions? The first is this market sustainable? The answer is probably NO. The market has now become brilliant at the top, The Champions League, to use a football analogy, where the top clubs have all the money for TV rights and have the big financial owners, and the rest rather scrub along trying to make things work. It is now the same in bloodstock where the top money will always be there and available, but the rest will simply sink further into decline and probably decide to give up. This has been going on for some years already with the huge decline of small stud owner breeders, myself to name but one, who are simply priced out of the marketplace with stallion fees and being unable to continue. Next year is unlikely to have such amazing returns, but as one well known and knowledgeable gentleman told me, “Let’s look in 2 years’ time, when the foals of these high priced mares are offered for sale as yearlings it is my bet that there will be a lot of burnt fingers. The bloodstock market historically has always been two years behind the rest of the world’s economy, and that’s not looking too clever at the moment!”

Images courtesy Tattersalls – Laura Green and Goldeneye Photography

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