Lockdown Continues but Sales Continue Virtually

Already in February and with little going on as most of Europe still in lock down, competition is thin on the ground, but the bloodstock early year sales take on a completely new look and continue virtually. Sadly, two recent deaths have been announced. The first was the national and international man of inspiration during the corona virus pandemic Captain Sir Tom Moore and the second, who we knew personally was former Mast of the Queen’s Horses, Lord Sam Vestey. We offer our sympathies and condolences to both family and friends of these two wonderful people. We will be writing a tribute to Sam Vestey later this month.

Tattersalls February Sale

Sale topper – Beautiful Illusion sold virtually for 120,000

This annual event each early February was not to be denied, despite the continuing protocols and rules regarding Covid. A most surreal sale however – there were no vendors at Tattersalls, no purchasers either and even no horses. This was the first bloodstock sale to be held completely virtually in the world we believe. Purchasers could only bid either by phone or on line. Watching the sale on line, the auctioneer was on his usual rostrum and each horse in the catalogue appeared on video at home. The videos were not live, but recorded by each vendor and sent to be edited and sorted out at Newmarket before being shown as the auctioneer tried to garner some bids and interest. The front row of the seats in the sale room was occupied by Tattersalls staff taking bids on the phone and others watching the internet for bids. It did at least give the auctioneer something to look at as it would have been most odd for him talking to himself in an empty auditorium!

The sale itself saw a rather uninteresting catalogue of mares, some in foal and others not, fillies in and out of training and a few yearlings and two year olds, although the numbers of the last types mentioned were well down on usual years. The response from the purchasers was surprisingly positive and although the stats were down on previous February sales, they did hold up much better than might have been expected. The average price for the 219 lots sold over the two days was down only 6% at 11,710 guineas. The biggest noticeable stat was that the number of withdrawals represented over half of the printed catalogue, 206 from 498 entered.

Racing

Few races of note have been run during January and early February and the weather has outdone some of the fixtures in Europe and USA. However, there were some Group 1 races run in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa over the final January weekend. The first in New Zealand was Harcourts Thorndon Mile for 2 year olds in which there were eight runners. New Zealand bred Melody Belle won this for trainer Jamie Richards by 1 ¼ lengths. There were three Group 1 races at Kenilworth near Cape Town in South Africa. The first was The Cape Flying Championship over 5 furlongs in which there were 14 runners and was won by Australian bred Run Fox Run for B. Crawford. The second of the trio was the Majorca Stakes in which there were 11 runners. The winner of the 1 mile contest for mares and fillies was the S.J. Snaith trained Captain Ransom, a four year old South African bred filly. The final race was the 1 mile 2 furlong Cape Town Met, a race for 3 year old and up and was won by Rainbow Ridge, another South African bred colt, who beat his ten other rivals for trainer Eric Sands. In Australia, nine runners took to the start of the Neds C F Ore Stakes, a contest over 7 furlongs for 3 year olds and up. The winner was Streets of Avalon, a 6 year old gelding trained by Shane Nichols. The Australian bred won by ½ a length.

Sport Horse News

Little to report recently, largely due to the pandemic restrictions around the world, although some show jumping 3 stars have been run but dressage has fared a little better with the annual Equestrian Festival in Florida, where there have been some Grand Prix. In a packed weekend of competition, the Grand Prix 4 star was taken by Steffen Peters riding Suppenkasper on 75.766% In the Freestyle to music, Gunter Seidel riding Equirelle took the honours with 75.83%. Both riders are from the USA although there were some European competitors who have temporarily based themselves in Florida with their horses for the Florida Festival.

In showjumping it has been announced that the Hamburg Jumping Derby, usually held in early June has been moved to the last weekend in August. In the sport itself, there was a 4 star competition, again in the USA at Wellington Florida. In the Grand Prix there were 45 starters with international flavour as some riders have temporarily based themselves in Florida for the winter season. The winner in fact was once such rider, Germany’s Daniel Deusser riding Killer Queen VDM. He was one of 12 riders going clear in the first round and onto the jump off. He beat Americans Ashlee Bond and Mclain Ward into second and third places respectively. In the world rankings, Steve Guerdat remains in the number one spot.

Other News

Now the UK and the EU have split as Brexit is now fully operational, there is still some concern and difficulty in moving horses around Europe. The news is full of how after only a month, the whole deal so far as Northern Ireland is concerned is fast unravelling, horse movements are subject to much greater controls. The main problem is that no one really knows what these controls are? There was a ‘Tri-partite agreement’ before the UK joined the European Union between France, the UK and Ireland for equine movements, but when the UK joined the EU in 1973, this agreement was swallowed up within all the European red tape. As a result, it still has not been replaced with further measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of equine movements and the general advice is not to try to move horses unless absolutely necessary. Really that excludes everything except for thorough bred mares travelling between the countries for breeding purposes, and recent reports suggest that these too are greatly reduced this year in comparison with other years.

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