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Conditions 'perfect' but economy to be key

CONDITIONS were “perfect – ten out of ten”, according to one consignor, as the entries for the two-day Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up sale, which begins after racing in Newmarket today, were put to the racecourse test on the Rowley Mile yesterday.

Timing was, as usual, unofficial, asTattersalls provided stopwatches for those who so desired. Among the most spectacular works – according to personal recording and consensus – was posted by a colt from the first crop of Footstepsinthesand (lot 129) consigned by Jamie Railton. A May 4 foal, the near-black colt belied his easygoing appearance with a very quick time, on the same course where his sire recorded his landmark victory in the 2,000 Guineas four years earlier.

Another exceptional time came from the last lot in the catalogue (183), a Songandaprayer colt from Irish consignor Powerstown Stud. Others who caught the eye included a Cape Cross half-brother to Group 1 winner Ransom O’War (181) from The Bloodstock Connection, a colt by the same sire from Knockgraffon Stables (115), and a filly by Arch (47) – one of five in the catalogue by the Kentucky sire - from Bansha House Stables.

An afternoon of mild temperatures and detectable sun made the job of potential buyers more pleasant after the public workouts were over. All the usual suspects were there, with British agents including Tom Goff, Gill Richardson, Amanda Skiffington, John Warren, Charlie Gordon-Watson, and the entire McKeever family. At least one had made more than the usual effort to get there - Sheikh Hamdan’s agent, Angus Gold, flew in from Australia on Monday night.

Also present were a number of foreign buyers, ranging from Italian agent Federico Barberini to Yoshito Yahagi, trainer for North Hills Farm owner Koji Maeda, while a representativeof another prominent Japanese owner, Hirokazu Okada of Big Red Farm, was likewise on the grounds. So was Mark Player, an agent for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Luca Cumani and Mark Johnston were among the trainers sorting through lots, while representatives from both Coolmore and Darley – including Sheikh Mohammed’s team of John Ferguson, Dick O’Gorman and David Loder – watched the breezes. Conditions, then, could be described as ten out of ten before the sale - if it weren’t for the economy.

Consignors could not voice their expectations without acknowledging as much, although they are hopeful the new initiative of a breeze-up bonus – awarding extra prize-money of up to £10,000 to winners of designated races from the sale – will boost trade.

Yesterday, at least, vendors were pleased with the level of action. “We’ve been unbelievably busy,” said Con Marnane, whose Bansha House Stables has the largest consignment in the catalogue.

John Hassett of The Bloodstock Connectionsaid: “We’ve been flat out with lookers. It seems like there are more than last year, although I’m not comparing apples to apples [with a different consignment].”

Consignor Jamie Railton said he was feeling positive, although he cautioned: “The figures from this sale last year were perhaps a tad inflated. But as long as there’s good, competitive trade, that’s what we’re looking for.”

The Tattersalls Craven breezes can be viewed on  The sale begins at 5.45pm on Wednesday and Thursday.




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