February Sale has potential to be best opening act yet following stellar 2017
Two-day auction takes place on Thursday and Friday in Newmarket
Last year's Tattersalls February Sale set the tone for what was to be an annus mirabilis for the sales house and bosses are optimistic that this year's sale, which begins on Thursday, can deliver again thanks to a catalogue boasting "quality in abundance".
Turnover at the sale 12 months ago hit 5.74 million guineas, part of year-long trade totalling in excess of 331 million guineas at Tattersalls in 2017, and it was Easton Angel who got the ball rolling at the February Sale.
Knocked down for a cool 500,000gns to agent Mick Flanagan, the Listed-winning sprinter's price surpassed the sale's previous record of 450,000gns, paid for House In Wood by Graiguenoe Park Stud in 2008, and she was subsequently covered by Coolmore kingpin Galileo.
Buyers at the lower end of the market at this year's sale - which takes place on Thursday and Friday - will be hoping to repeat the feat of Newmarket racecourse employee Joyce Wallsgrove, who sourced Whirly Dancer, the dam of Railway Stakes scorer Beckford, for 9,500gns at the 2012 February Sale.
Seven lots - two colts and five fillies - part-owned by embattled South African businessman Markus Jooste are set to come under the hammer, headed by Yarmouth novice stakes scorer Willie John, who holds an entry in both the Epsom and Irish Derby.
The son of Dansili and Izzi Top was bred by Meon Valley Stud and earned a Racing Post Rating of 83 for that Yarmouth success in October, his sole start to date.
Joining him will be Giant's Treasure, a highly impressive maiden winner by Shamardal.
The quintet of fillies up for grabs are Key To My Heart, a Listed-winning daughter of Galileo and A Z Warrior; Longing, a winning Galileo half-sister to Atalanta Stakes scorer Ladys First; Pocketfullofdreams, a Listed-placed Invincible Spirit half-sister to Group 2 winner The Juliet Rose; Short Head, a placed daughter of Fastnet Rock and German Listed winner Slight Advantage; and Smoulder, a winning Redoute's Choice half-sister to Classic heroine Legatissimo;
The Rockfel Stakes runner-up Thetis, meanwhile, will be offered without reserve as the final part of the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal, together with her January-born Lope De Vega filly, and she will be followed into the ring immediately after by Smoulder.
Thetis is a five-year-old Invincible Spirit half-sister to Musidora Stakes winner Liber Nauticus and hails from the same Ballymacoll family as elite winners Blond Me, Conduit, Glass Harmonium, Petrushka, River Dancer and Spectrum.
Among the Juddmonte jewels on offer are Plait, daughter of the Yorkshire Oaks winner Quiff; Fellbeck, a half-sister to Pattern scorers Weightless and Main Aim; and Sprinkling, a winner on her last start on the all-weather in France.
Two mares will be offered by the Newmarket nursery.
Novellara, dam of Group 3 winner Disclaimer, will be offered in foal to Bated Breath, while Canada Water, sister to Rail Link and dam of Group-placed Lawmaking, will be offered in foal to Showcasing.
Quality in abundance
Marketed as Europe's premier mid-winter sale, 446 lots have been catalogued for the sale, with the ever popular TBA Stallion Parade kicking things off at 11am before the start of the sale at 11.45am on Thursday.
The sale comprises 164 fillies in and out of training, 46 broodmares, 175 colts and geldings in and out of training, 46 yearlings and 15 two-year-olds, with consignments for leading owner-breeders including Godolphin, Juddmonte Farms and Shadwell.
"The Tattersalls February Sale goes from strength to strength and this year's catalogue has quality in abundance," said Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony.
"The dams of last year's Group 2 Railway Stakes winner Beckford and 2016 St Leger winner Harbour Law were both purchased at the February Sale, and there is no shortage of high-class breeding stock in this year's catalogue.
"Additionally there are high-class horses in training, two-year-olds and yearlings to appeal to the usual diverse mix of domestic and international buyers that have made the February Sale Europe’s undisputed leading mid-winter sale."
Tattersalls February Sale
Where/when Park Paddocks, Newmarket; two-day sale begins at 11.45am on Thursday and continues at 10am on Friday; TBA Flat Stallion Parade begins at 11am on Thursday
Sold last year From 377 offered, 338 sold for turnover of 5,735,200gns, an average of 16,968gns and median of 8,000gns