Farhh too good as December Foal Sale brings record trade
James Thomas reports from a strong session of selling at Park Paddocks
Park Paddocks played host to a record-breaking opening session of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale in Newmarket on Wednesday and, despite first-crop sires dominating trade for much of the day, it was a son of Darley's Farhh who made the biggest impression on buyers when fetching 160,000gns from Yeomanstown Stud.
The gateway filled with interested parties as the rangy colt strode around the ring, but it was the Yeomanstown team that proved most determined to land the Brook Stud-consigned foal.
"He's been great to work with and has always been a good walker," said Brook Stud's Wendyll Woods. "It's nice to see him sell well and, more importantly, see him sell to good people."
The Farhh foal was bred by Brook Stud after Dwayne Woods purchased his dam Radhaadh - a winning daughter of Nayef out of a half-sister to the high-class Maraahel - for 55,000gns from the Shadwell draft at the 2016 July Sale.
"We loved the mare, she has so much presence. We bought her in foal so it wasn't our covering but it's something we've reaped the reward from so we're very happy," added Wendyll Woods.
Despite limited opportunities, with this colt one of only 20 officially registered foals in his 2017 crop, Farhh has made a bright start to his second career, with his debut crop of two-year-olds headed by the Group 3 Acomb Stakes winner and Classic contender Wells Farhh Go.
Ivawood springs into action
The pacesetter for much of the day was the Ivawood colt offered by the Irish National Stud, with agent Amanda Skiffington forced all the way to 105,000gns to get the better of a prolonged duel with Flash Conroy.
"Every good pinhooker in here was on him so that makes me feel a bit better! Although I was buying him to race which was a help," said Skiffington. "I've bought him for Fiona Carmichael, who owned Ivawood, she wanted one by him and this colt is lovely and very like his sire."
The colt was bred by John and Patrick McLoughney, who purchased the dam - the unraced Royal Applause mare Quickstep Queen, who is out of a sister to the smart sprinter Mirza - for just 2,000gns at the 2015 Tattersalls February Sale.
Ivawood, a son of Zebedee, carried the silks of Carmichael and Ian Jennings to success in the Richmond and July Stakes, as well as reaching Group 1 podiums on three occasions. He covered 160 mares at a fee of €9,000 in his first year at Coolmore.
Another first-crop sire to land a significant blow was Highclere Stud's Cable Bay, with Flash Conroy of Glenvale Stud going to 75,000gns for the colt out of Hewayaat offered by New England Stud.
"What you look for is consistency and the vibes from Ireland and here have been very good," Highclere's John Warren said of the reception Cable Bay's first crop have received. "As a physical specimen this colt was very typical of Cable Bay's foals, powerful and strong with a lovely action.
"We're seeing a lot of maturity in his stock, and when you have a stallion that was a very good two-year-old throwing maturing-looking horses, that's what the market wants, which is really exciting for us."
Cable Bay, a Group 2-winning son of Invincible Spirit, covered 152 mares in his first year at Highclere, making him the most popular retiree to stud in Britain in 2016.
"We have to offer breeders commercial horses even though it's so hard to find the stallions you want. It's important that British breeders have access to these kind of horses," said Warren, before elaborating on the practicalities of standing stallions as an independent outfit.
"The continuity of supporting them and getting behind them is a big undertaking. There's the expense of buying is one thing, but we've also gone out and bought 25 mares for Cable Bay. It's not that he needed those mares in year one, but you've got to keep the support going."
Hewayaat, an unraced daughter of Cape Cross, was bought by the Warrens for 72,000gns at the December Mares Sale in 2015.
Wednesday's session did not just contain Flat-bred foals, with Robin and Scarlett Knipe's Cobhall Court Stud offering a pair of colts by leading National Hunt sire Kayf Tara. The couple know better than most the quality Kayf Tara can impart, having bred his leading performer Thistlecrack, who is set to make his seasonal reappearance in the Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.
Plenty followed the first Kayf Tara into the ring, with Mark Dwyer of Oaks Farm Stables landing the winning bid of 30,000gns for the colt bred by Peter Symonds out of Hot Rhythm. The second foal, out of Monita Bonita, went the way of Margaret O'Toole for 42,000gns.
"We decided to come here with them due to logistics," said Scarlett Knipe. "They have both been so busy - they've hardly been in their boxes since they got here – and after all plenty of agents buy both Flat and National Hunt horses."
The Knipes have another two by the sire to sell on Thursday.
Pinhookers were out in force during the opening session, and among their number was Mick Flanagan, who made a pair of purchases for a total spend of 63,000gns.
The more expensive of the pair was a son of Holy Roman Emperor offered by Keith Harte and bred by professional footballer Joey Barton.
"He's a good little colt and is by a stallion end users like buying," said Flanagan of the foal out of the Listed-winning Firebreak mare Electric Feel.
"Obviously his dam was very good. I bought him on spec and the plan will be for him to come back for re-sale as a yearling."
Flanagan's other purchase was a son of Anjaal from the Ballyshannon Stud draft, who fetched 18,000gns
Church View's choice
The second lot on the day to make 42,000gns was the Garswood colt offered by Furnace Mill Stud, who went the way of Church View Stables' Tom Whelan and Larry Stratton. The eighth foal out of the winning Namid mare Lawyers Choice, the colt is closely related to two winners and is a half-brother to another.
"He was a star for us," said Whelan, who was accompanied by his son, prominent Irish rider Ronan. "He'll come back to the farm in Kildangan and Book 2 will be the plan, unless something big happens and he needs upgrading.
"Obviously Garswood's first crop haven't run yet but his yearlings sold well and have gone to lots of good trainers so he's promising. This colt came from a great farm; they're wonderful people."
The session saw big year-on-year gains in all key market metrics. A total of 191 foals sold for turnover of 2,889,500gns - a 37 per cent gain on 2016's comparative figure and a record for day one of the December Foal Sale.
The average climbed by 35 per cent to 15,128gns and the median was up 25 per cent to 10,000gns. The clearance rate stood at 76 per cent, up from 72 per cent 12 months ago.