'He's as nice a foal as I've brought to the December Sale in ten years'
Leading vendors Ed Harper and Derek Veitch look ahead to the foal sales
Tattersalls may have catalogued almost 200 fewer lots for this year's December Foal Sale, but a drop in quantity has done nothing to diminish the level of quality on offer.
Prior to withdrawals, the four-day auction featured siblings to 121 Group and Listed winners, a list that includes a Dubawi half-brother to Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Skitter Scatter (Airlie Stud, Lot 939); a Zoffany half-brother to Fillies' Mile heroine Pretty Gorgeous (Norelands Stud, 976); and a Footstepsinthesand half-brother to Norfolk Stakes scorer The Lir Jet (The Castlebridge Consignment, 957).
Also due to come under the hammer is the Frankel half-brother to this year's Mill Reef Stakes winner and December Foal Sale graduate Alkumait (955), who forms part of a 25-strong draft from Whitsbury Manor Stud.
"He's a standout foal," said stud director Ed Harper of the youngster, who was born on May 10. "My only concern is his birthday; he's two months younger than most foals I'd bring to Friday's session. I think people can see that though and he's actually very mature for his age. He's a very sensible colt, has prepped really well and I'm very excited about him.
"Alkumait should be heading to the Commonwealth Cup, I talk to Marcus Tregoning regularly about it, so hopefully there'll be a big update next year as well. The mare isn't very big, I'm hopeful that Frankel was a very good mating for her, but I'd say this colt will end up being slightly bigger than Alkumait and her other foals. He's as nice a foal as I've brought to the December Sale in ten years."
First-crop sires feature prominently in the catalogue, with the likes of Cracksman, Expert Eye, Harry Angel, Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior all represented. Whitsbury Manor's own Havana Grey also has his debut crop head to market, and Harper reports: "The Havana Greys are of a real type; very strong, broad shouldered, barrel chested - just like him.
"I don't think they're going to need much time as they already look pretty whiz-bang."
Among the Havana Greys Whitsbury Manor will be offering are half-brothers to Cornwallis Stakes winner Good Vibes (741) and Pastoral Player (519), and a filly out of a half-sister to Showcasing and Camacho (490).
With talk of a Covid-19 vaccine and crowds returning to racecourses in the near future, Harper said there was an almost palpable sense of positivity compared to the doom and gloom that plagued much of the yearling sales.
"There's a bit more good news floating around now than during the yearling sales, so fingers crossed that filters through into a bit of confidence in the market," he said.
"There are fewer lots in the foal catalogue this year than normal too, so hopefully buyers might end up bumping into each other a bit more than they would do otherwise.
"I'm pretty optimistic and we've got a very good draft. I'm really looking forward to selling our Thursday foals as well as the ones on Friday, and we've already been busy."
Another vendor with an eyecatching draft is Derek Veitch's Ringfort Stud. Given the year the County Offaly farm has had, having bred high-class two-year-olds Minzaal, Miss Amulet and Ubettabelieveit, buyers seem certain to be making a beeline for the Wall Boxes to inspect the 14-strong offering.
None of Ringfort's pedigrees catch the eye quite like lot 919, the Belardo half-brother to Minzaal, impressive winner of the Gimcrack Stakes and who rounded out his season with a fine third behind Supremacy in the Middle Park.
"He's a very strong, solid, well-made colt," reported Veitch. "He's a very positive colt to walk beside, which means he has a good attitude for racing, and he's well-grown for his age without being too big. He's very straightforward.
"It'll be interesting to see how the industry deals with Belardo as I think he's a bit under the radar at the moment. He's done very well in the last two months and I'm told he's the most interesting horse in terms of what people are doing with their mares next year too."
The well-related Belardo colt is not the only foal Veitch had a positive word for, as he added: "I really like the Expert Eye colt (619) as a racehorse, he's the one I'd take out of the draft as a runner. I love the Australia colt out of Rocana (789) as a sales horse, I think he's the one everyone will like when they see him as everything adds up for the pinhookers, and we have lovely fillies by Bated Breath (618) and Invincible Spirit (918).
"And I think the Cracksman filly (917) is an absolute queen, one of the nicest fillies I've ever bred. She's very correct, has a great walk, loads of power and a lovely mind. She looks like a racehorse to me."
Although Covid-19 rules and regulations have been in effect at Tattersalls throughout sales season, trade has continued all but unimpeded. However, it is the impact the second lockdown is having beyond the Park Paddocks boundary that Veitch said was preventing business being conducted as usual at this week's auction.
"It's easy to be apprehensive in the current climate," he said. "When you walk down Newmarket high street, I've never seen it looking so bleak. And there's nowhere to go in the evenings to socialise; that's a loss to us, and you certainly do a lot of business with people when you're talking through your foals."
Despite the lockdown situation, Veitch struck a more positive tone when asked about his expectations for trade, replying: "I think the sale will be fine; I expect at a certain level it will be absolutely normal, but there'll be other foals who fall below a certain level - whether it's because the sire isn't as popular or because the mare hasn't done enough - and they'll be difficult to sell.
"It'll be very good for some foals though and I just hope I've one or two they want. We sell everything so all those horses - Ubettabelieveit, Miss Amulet, Minzaal - were there to be bought as foals."
Tattersalls December Foal Sale factfile
Where Tattersalls, Newmarket
When Four-day sale starts on Wednesday, with all sessions starting at 10am
Last year's stats From 921 offered lots, 663 sold for turnover of 29,338,300gns (down 16 per cent), an average of 44,250gns (down 14 per cent) and a median of 22,000gns (down 12 per cent)
Notable graduates Dream Of Dreams (sold by Bumble Mitchell to Mick Flanagan for 37,000gns); Blue Point (sold by Oak Lodge & Springfield House Studs to Ebor Bloodstock for 110,000gns); Magna Grecia (sold by Norelands Stud to MV Magnier/Mayfair/Peter and Ross Doyle for 340,000gns)