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Ardad (Rab Havlin)

Ardad: £170,000 Goffs UK purchase won the Windsor Castle Stakes

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Mixed fortunes at this year's breeze-up sales

LAST week's Goffs London Sale brought to an end the British and Irish breeze-up season of mixed fortunes for vendors.

Those who presented two-year-olds for sale at Arqana and Goresbridge enjoyed an upturn in figures but it was not such plain sailing at Tattersalls' two sales in Newmarket, while trade at Doncaster slumped quite significantly.

Overall statistics for turnover, average and median for each sale tell a general story, but to analyse the strength at different levels of the market we have split the results into four equal quartiles to compare between years.


Tattersalls Ireland Ascot


The 2014 Brightwells Ascot Breeze-Up Sale enjoyed a good run with its graduates, spearheaded by Coventry Stakes and Prix Morny hero The Wow Signal, and that attracted buyers for the following year's renewal, which recorded sharp increases in turnover and average price and a new top price.

Another 12 months on - during which time Brightwells was bought by Tattersalls and its sales transferred to Tattersalls Ireland - and the 2015 record price was surpassed not once but four times. That fervour for those lots in most demand is reflected in the 52 per cent increase in average in the top quartile of trade.

However, the market did not feel that buoyant all-round at Ascot that day, with plenty of the lesser lights in the catalogue struggling, and that is shown in the lowest quartile of trade, where the average was down 16 per cent year-on-year.

A 13 per cent increase in average in the second-lowest quartile of trade and neither an increase nor a decrease in the second-highest quartile speak of a mixed market.


Tattersalls Craven


After a 1,150,000gns record-breaker in 2014 and an 850,000gns top lot last year, there was no extravagantly priced showstopper at this year's auction, with 360,000gns ‘all' it took to secure the Invincible Spirit colt who headed affairs.

There was more strength in depth in the upper echelon of trade at the Craven Sale in April, though. Seventeen lots made 200,000gns or more, while 34 sold for 100,000gns or more. That compares favourably with the 13 who made 200,000gns or more and the 33 who sold for 100,000gns or more in 2015.

Sure enough, there was a four per cent increase in the average in the top quartile year-on-year, and demand for the best lots on offer trickled to the next quartile down, which registered a three per cent rise.

But the improved trade was not spread evenly. Lots in the bottom quartile of the market achieved an average 13 per cent down on those in the same section in the preceding year, and those in the next quartile up sold for an average five per cent lower.


Goffs UK


Goffs group chief executive Henry Beeby was left to rue "trade [that] has been mixed in parts and really quite challenging in the lower echelons" after the Doncaster breeze-up registered steep year-on-year declines in April.

The averages in each quartile of the market illustrate that, once again, the lower end was hit hardest with decreases between 27 and 33 per cent in every section bar the top quartile, where the drop in average was less precipitous at 12 per cent.

Beeby also said after the sale that "we are sure that the sale will generate another huge number of winners at a high level" but even he could not have dared to hope that April's auction would work out quite so well, with the two £170,000 joint-top lots both scoring at Royal Ascot last week - Ardad in the Windsor Castle Stakes and Prince Of Lir in the Norfolk Stakes.

With prices down at Doncaster this year, and yet a good set of results on Flat racing's biggest stage, it seems inconceivable there won't be renewed demand to drive the figures back up at the Goffs UK Breeze-Up of 2017.


Tattersalls Guineas


The 300,000gns given by Blandford Bloodstock for a son of Le Havre was the highest price at this sale since 2008. The colt - pinhooked, incidentally, by vendors Ardglas Stables for just €12,000 - was one of eight two-year-olds to sell for a six-figure sum, compared with two last year and three in 2014.

That strength at the top of the market is reflected in a 15 per cent increase in average in the top quartile.

Elsewhere, trade was more selective. In the next quartile down the average dipped by 11 per cent and in the second-lowest quartile the figure was down by three per cent.

The average in the bottom quartile was, though, up four per cent.




What any sales company director would give for figures like these!

Overall at last month's Arqana Breeze-Up Sale turnover rose by 29 per cent, the average increased by 20 per cent and the median went up by 12 per cent.

The bottom quartile was actually subject to the steepest increase, with the average up by 56 per cent to €21,481.

The average was up in the middle two quartiles by 28 and 26 per cent, while a new record price of €800,000 for a Frankel filly helped lift the average price in the top quartile by 36 per cent.

The general average and median prices at the Arqana Breeze-Up have climbed each year since 2012.

It will be interesting to see whether it can sustain growth in 2017, or whether buyers will begin to feel they can find value elsewhere. That may be contingent on the more expensively sold lots this year justifying their prices on the track.




Another buoyant sale with increases in average in every quartile, with big increases in the bottom and top sections bookending smaller rises in the middle.

This year's top price of €270,000, given by BBA Ireland for a son of Shamardal, smashed the previous sale record set last year by a clear €100,000. That, and one more six-figure lot at the auction compared with 2015, contributed to a 14 per cent increase in the average in the top quartile.

A cosmopolitan buying bench attracted by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing played at all levels of the market and ensured that, even in the bottom quartile, the average was up by 20 per cent.


Goffs London


It is probably fair to say that the breeze-up sections in the first three editions of the Goffs London Sale at Kensington Palace on the eve of Royal Ascot have played second fiddle to the horses in training on offer, with their big engagements and bigger price tags.

Last week's sale recorded small decreases in average in the two bottom quartiles of the market, a bigger downturn in the second-highest quartile, but a four per cent increase in average in the top quartile.

Beeby said after the sale that the breeze-up section in the London sale would be under review in order to reinvigorate it.




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