Our table detailing the fates of the three top lots from the last three years at each of the major European breeze-up sales contains a relatively small portion of data but it tells its own story of success and failure.

Every agent or trainer at sales of young stock looks for the best bloodlines merged with the best physical specimen available to them within their budget. At the breeze-ups, the job should be made slightly easier by the fact that these fledgling racehorses are already athletes. They can gallop, some faster than others, some in a more taking manner than others, but they have all been tried to a degree which many homebreds and a large portion of sales yearlings will not have been at the equivalent point in their upbringing.

If the table gives any message at all, it is that the term ‘ready to run’ can be a misnomer. Bearing in mind that many breeze-up graduates will have had tough preparations for yearling sales only six months beforehand and, even with a break before the serious work building up to a breeze begins, it is nevertheless an awful lot to be asking of a horse both mentally and physically at such a tender age. Some can cope; others will fall by the wayside.

Of the two top performers in our small sample, Passion For Gold didn’t race until the end of August in his two-year-old season, while Rainfall didn’t make the track at all as a juvenile but doubtless benefited from this cautious approach – she posted a six-length maiden win on debut and won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on only her third racecourse appearance.

There have been plenty of good reasons to keep buyers coming back to the breeze-ups, including 30,000gns DBS purchase Speciosa becoming the first British Classic winner to emanate from this sphere and colts such as Rio De La Plata and Amadeus Wolf being rated in the top five two-year-olds of their generations. It’s no coincidence that these three hailed from the drafts of Mocklershill (Speciosa) and Bansha House Stables (Rio De La Plata and Amadeus Wolf), two outfits whose names have taken up permanent residence in the list of top vendors at breeze-up sales.

More recently, Native Khan landed the Craven Stakes – which is sponsored by a conglomerate of breeze-up vendors – almost exactly a year to the day after he was asked to stretch out on turf alongside the Rowley Mile in the 2010 Craven breeze-up sale, and Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Barefoot Lady became the second high-profile graduate of the Goresbridge sale after Music Show.

In these difficult financial times, there had been hope that the breeze-up sales might see a surge of buyers who had kept their powder dry at the yearling sales and saved on six months’ keep by buying a horse that bit closer to making its racecourse debut. The picture will become clearer once the dust has settled on the sales at Doncaster and Saint-Cloud, the former having just begun as this issue went to press, but the early indications are that, while there remains a clutch of bigger purchasers, there are still too few players operating in the crucial middle market.

Evans above
One man who would surely be a success as a breeze-up consignor were he ever to give up his current job is David Evans. The trainer has usually had at least a handful of two-year-old winners before the sales have even started. This year is no exception.

Evans is already responsible for the first winner by three first-season sires. Dual winner Jack Who’s He got Red Clubs off the mark on March 31, Seven Year Itch did the same for Lawman on April 13, while Cockney Fire was Cockney Rebel’s first winner on April 16.
This was the second time that Cockney Fire’s dam Camp Fire had produced the first winner by a freshman sire, as her 2007 foal, Kumbeshwar, was the first to strike for Doyen, albeit in September. No prizes for guessing who trained Kumbeshwar before he switched to Alan King’s yard and became one of the best juvenile hurdlers in the land.

Stallion masters looking to get some early winners on the board for their young sires could do worse than sending a few two-year-olds to Wales to the unorthodox but highly effective yard of David Evans.