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My Dream Boat

My Dream Boat: £40,000 purchase went on to win a Royal Ascot Group 1

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Our industry figures debate the big issues

Experts from the bloodstock industry reflect on the 2016 breeze-up sales season

How have you found this year's breeze-up market?

Richard Brown, Blandford Bloodstock It's been strong at the top, selective in the middle tier and poor at the lower end. This is always going to be the case with breeze-up sales as these young animals have so many hoops to jump through before they get into the sales ring. They have to travel to the sales, breeze nicely, show and vet well. It's hard for horse and consignor to get all the stars to align but when they do the rewards can be very lucrative.

Brendan Holland, Grove Stud In England in particular the middle market was weaker than expected. Maybe that had something to do with the uncertainty over Brexit, but I thought the top of the market at the Craven was also weak. You had 120 of the best-bred breezers in Europe and none of them made the price of a maiden winner. It was weaker still in Doncaster where you'd expect it to be strong. However, there was more competition at Arqana and Goresbridge.

Con Marnane, Bansha House Stables It wasn't too bad, but it's more of the same - some horses have sold very well and others badly, or not at all. There are only two businesses tougher than this - professional boxing and cage fighting! We are just so lucky to have the same buyers coming back to us every year and we're delighted to have gained some new buyers this year.

Tom Malone, bloodstock agent The market has been fairly strong on the whole, particularly at the top end. I've only bought a handful this year as my clients had already bought a number of yearlings in the autumn. We had a set number of orders, which meant I could be more selective when it came down to choosing an individual.

James Thomas, bloodstock journalist There have been both positives and negatives. On the whole trade towards the top end continues to be strong and the continued rise of the likes of Ascot and Goresbridge can only be good for buyers and vendors alike. However, further down the market seems to have become very selective. With clearance rates falling things at the lower echelons of certain sales have looked particularly tough.

How difficult do you think it would be to break into the consigning ranks today?

Richard Brown Like everything in horseracing, if you are prepared to work hard and put in the hours then anything is possible. In my opinion breeze-up consigning is the toughest of all sales activities and the vendors that stand the test of time are outstanding horsemen.

Brendan Holland It may be a little easier as I think the breeze-ups are becoming a more accepted way of buying. I think the Breeze-Up Consignors Association advertising campaign is definitely having a positive effect. Everyone is aware of the success of breeze-up horses on the back of that. Breaking into any sector is difficult, but at least becoming a breeze-up consignor you'd be breaking into a part of the market that I think has a good future.

Con Marnane It is difficult, but when you have a very nice horse who breezes well over two furlongs, looks like a superstar and the vets give the all-clear, anything is possible. Our good friends Ardglas Stables had a fantastic result this year selling the top lot at the Tattersalls Guineas sale, a colt by Le Havre who made 300,000gns.

Tom Malone Everyone has to start somewhere but I don't perceive it to be difficult, although there are some very shrewd operators consigning nowadays and the competition is tough. The key is to buy the right individual initially and produce them well to take the eye on the day and hope everyone wants him or her. Honesty, realism and results are the things that will help a consignor to be successful in the long run.

James Thomas Breaking into the consigning ranks shouldn't be too much of an issue in principle, but establishing a trustworthy reputation is ultimately what will allow a vendor to carve out a career, and that is easier said than done. A couple of newer consignors recorded some notable successes this breeze-up season, such as Star Bloodstock and Ardglas Stables, so it'll be interesting to see how the likes of those vendors fare in future.

What issues are facing the breeze-ups and how could these be addressed?

Richard Brown I suppose clearance rates are a major issue but because of the reasons mentioned above I'm not sure how these can be improved. A few fellow purchasers have suggested that official times should be published by the sales companies but personally I am strongly against this.

Brendan Holland They're all suffering from the same problem - there seems to be a shortage of English buyers. We need to keep reinforcing the belief that we've got a good product. That is being addressed and is a positive thing. There's more communication between the consignors and the sales companies than there is in any other sales sector, as a breeze-up sale is a difficult thing to get through. Issues that do crop up usually get addressed in a constructive manner, and long may it continue.

Con Marnane There aren't enough buyers for the middle- and lower-market horses. It might be a good idea to think about offering some sort of bonus to prospective buyers by way of a credit with the sales company which would have to be spent at the following year's sale. The Breeze-Up Consignors Association are doing a fantastic job of highlighting the profile of the breeze-up sales and the numbers of winners coming from them, many of which turn out to be very highly rated.

Tom Malone Timing is a big factor these days and we are not going to get away from that. However, plenty of good horses have come from a breeze-up sale without a fast time, for example My Dream Boat, who I bought from the Doncaster Sale for £40,000. He's now a Group 1 Prince of Wales' Stakes winner. Also Caspar Netscher, who I bought from the Craven Breeze for £60,000. He did an average time but he ended up winning four Group 2s.

James Thomas There will always be a market for what are perceived as the 'right' horses but it seems that buyers at the lower levels have had to reign in their spending. However, it's probably over simplifying things to say that over-production is to blame. It would be encouraging to see a greater effort being made towards making owning the horses that fall into the lower price brackets a more attractive proposition.

Times are a contentious issue at the breeze-ups, are you a believer?

Richard Brown I'm a believer that times are an important tool in our selection process. Simply speaking, the faster they go, the more they cost, which is obviously a key consideration when working to a budget. There's a significant correlation between speed shown in the breeze and future racing success, but there are so many other important factors to take into account such as attitude, action and pedigree.

Brendan Holland I have no problem with people timing horses, it's up to them to apply the significance. I don't think it's anything for us as consignors to be concerned about. There's a big variety of horses sold in Europe and not all of them are precocious two-year-olds. Lots of horses are being produced at the sales for whom times are not particularly relevant and the marketplace is well capable of figuring that out. I'm not worried that the increased level of timing is going to impact negatively on how we prepare the horses.

Con Marnane I'm not a fan of timing. Our horses are not pushed at home to be two furlong wonder horses. They are given time and prepared like racehorses by our incredible team. We've already produced 19 Group 1 horses and 80 stakes horses, including Prince Of Lir who won the Norfolk Stakes last week. I don't think any of those horses did a particularly fast time at the breeze-up sales. I'm more interested in the times they might do at places like Royal Ascot.

Tom Malone Yes to a point, if I want a sharp horse and I'm confident the horse has been produced by a vendor who has left something in the tank for the next person. I'm all for timing being part of the overall purchase, but it is only one piece of the jigsaw.

James Thomas I'm a believer, although I can appreciate times could become counterproductive if vendors become too reliant on them. Also, timing as a buying tool clearly comes with its limitations as context is so important when considering a horse's time. Pedigree, shape and size and how late into the breeze the horse gallops and so on all have to be taken into account. I believe making times more widely available would be a step in the right direction.

Which first-season sires have impressed you this year?

Richard Brown Mayson and Helmet were the two who stood out for me. I bought a colt by Rio De La Plata and a couple by Excelebration for David Simcock who we like as well.

Brendan Holland Frankel, Frankel and Frankel

Con Marnane Rio De La Plata has really impressed me as a first-season sire. Aiming For Rio, one of his sons, ran promisingly in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. Casamento has also impressed me and we bred Barrington, his first winner. Power has had a very good start, I sold Somebody To Love at the Craven Sale and she won very impressively earlier in the month. Dragon Pulse is also doing very well too and Helmets are definitely compulsory!

Tom Malone Dragon Pulse, especially with Legendary Lunch winning the Woodcote at Epsom on Oaks day. His stock will be selling very well come the yearling sales in the autumn and they should progress up to a mile. Clearly Frankel has made an impact, having already sired four winners. All his winners have hit the line very strongly just like he did and I like to see that.

James Thomas Several of the Maysons I have seen have impressed me and the early indications from his runners have been very promising. I'd be surprised if he didn't make his mark this season and I'll be looking forward to seeing how his progeny progress given that he himself didn't peak until his four-year-old campaign. I'm also a fan of Elzaam, and think he'll get more than his share of winners this season. Frankel hasn't got off to a bad start either!





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