Polarised market leaves many vendors finding the going tough at Open Sale
Aisling Crowe on a sale at the less rewarding end of the yearling spectrum
From floating in the stratosphere of last month's stellar Orby Sale, yearling vendors came back to earth with a thud at Goffs Open Yearling Sale on Wednesday.
A median of €5,000 and an average price of €7,324 for the first day of a sale expanded to two days made it tough going for many – even though those indices were little changed, and turnover for the session of €1,288,950 more than €200,000 above the total for the yearling section of last year's sale.
One way or another, the cumulative effects of a polarised market at every sales venue – from last year's foal sales to a number of the current round of yearling sales, for all the giddy prices paid at the top end – caused many to share a note of despondency.
A leading industry figure, speaking on condition of anonymity, reflected on the hard reality away from seven-figure headline sales: "Ninety per cent of the people selling today won't cover their costs – and these are proper commercial breeders, trying to earn a living at a time when we're haemorrhaging them from the industry."
Another prominent breeder spoke with dismay of the thin market, and also suggested one way the situation could be improved. "I received a phone call this morning from an English trainer with 100 horses in training who didn't even know this sale was on, didn't even receive a catalogue," he claimed.
"In any other business, there are sales reps on the road who go out and meet potential customers. ITM and the Irish sales companies should be sending people to Yorkshire, Newmarket and Lambourn a couple of weeks before their sales, to meet the trainers, talk to them about what's for sale and give them catalogues. That could bring 20 or 30 extra buyers to the sale and that would make a huge difference."
Beeby accepts polarisation
While all the major sales houses do have dedicated and professional marketing teams, often putting in precisely those kind of miles ahead of a sale, Henry Beeby accepted the impact of increased polarisation.
"We have seen the market everywhere recently becoming more polarised," the Goffs Group Chief Executive said. "It is a tough marketplace, very unforgiving and probably the most polarised it has been in a considerable amount of time.
"Our job at Goffs is to provide the best marketplace at every we level we can from the Orby, through to the Sportsmans' Sale and this one. We had an enormous number of applications for the yearling sales and we strive to provide a marketplace from the €1.6m yearling from Orby to the €1,000 sales today. We have brought buyers from China, Italy, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as UK trainers such as Ron Harris and Paul Midgley who made purchases today."
Trainer Eoghan O'Neill came to Goffs from France and purchased the day's top lot, a daughter of Teofilo, for €62,000 on behalf of Rabbah Bloodstock. A half-sister to Morlock, a winner this year at two for Helmet, she is out of an unraced Green Desert half-sister to Group 1 winner Folk Opera. Second dam Skiphall is a half-sister to the dam of Prix Marcel Boussac winner Proportional.
Another spree for Zhang
And good racehorses can be found at every level. At this sale last year, Zhang Yuesheng – aided by Michael Donohoe of the BBA Ireland – sourced Whitefountainfairy for just €3,000. The daughter of Casamento was sold for £300,000 at Goffs London Sale after an impressive maiden success.Dragon Pulse, consigned by the Irish National Stud, out of the Group-placed Madda's Place from the family of Grade 1 winner Bequest.
Another picked out by the pair was a filly from the first crop of Tally Ho's Morpheus, the Oasis Dream half-brother to Frankel. Out of the Dubai Destination mare Lipsia, the bay is a half-sister to two winners so far and traces back to champion filly Chris Evert.
"The Dragon Pulse is a lovely filly that looks to be a sharp and racy type from a very nice family," remarked Donohoe. "She will remain in Ireland to race and the trainer will be decided in due course. Mr Zhang has been quite taken with the progeny of Morpheus and this colt looks to be a nice, early two-year-old. He too will remain in Ireland."
Believing in Dream
Harris, as Beeby noted, acquired one of the day's more expensive lots, signing at €29,000 for colt by Dream Ahead consigned by Boston House Stables. He is a full brother to Would You Believe, a debut winner in a Curragh maiden for Ger Lyons. They are the first two foals out of Queen Grace, a winning daughter of Choisir from the family of Irish Derby hero Cape Blanco.
Two of the three priciest lots on Wednesday were well-related fillies and the second of these was a daughter of Shamardal, sold by Lumville Stud. The bay filly, although bred by Shadwell, is Kilcarn Stud through and through. Her damsire is Marju, bred by Miss Pat O'Kelly out of her brilliant mare Flame Of Tara and the yearling's dam is a half-sister to My Renee – the dam of Banimpire, the Ribblesdale winner who sold for €2.3m at the 2011 Goffs November Foal Sale.
An old love stirs
Wednesday's most expensive colt was a €31,000 son of Rip Van Winkle, and it was the identity of the sire that captured buyer Cristiana Brivio's heart.
In her consigning days, Brivio sold Rip Van Winkle to Coolmore on behalf of breeder Roberto Borgi at the SCA Yearling Sale of 2007. The son of Galileo went on to win three times at the highest level, including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and Brivio retains an enormous fondness for her former charge.
"I know he is not the most fashionable sire but I loved Rip Van Winkle when I had him, he was a very nice horse. This colt is a very nice individual, very strong and I liked him a lot," she said.
The colt will be trained by Brivio and her husband Endo Botti. He hails from the family of elite winners Luas Line, Prince Arch and Kingsfort, who won the Group 1 National Stakes for Kevin Prendergast before his sale to Godolphin.
De Bromhead jumps to it
Multiple Grade 1 and Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Henry de Bromhead's small team of Flat horses have excelled this season, spearheaded by the Listed winning filly Gorane. Buoyed by that success, de Bromhead has been active at the yearling sales and his select purchases here included one of the day's nicer colts.
He paid €26,000 for a son of Canford Cliffs, from Clifton Farm, out of the unraced Sadler's Wells mare Petit Moselle, who has bred a winner from her first runner.
"I bought him on spec," said the trainer. "I loved him when I saw him and he could do either job, stay on the Flat or go jumping."