The breeze-up market has been tricky enough this year so it was encouraging to see those who brought the goods to last month’s Goffs UK Sale in Doncaster well rewarded with investment from a range of buyers.

There does remain a polarisation of the market, something that seems to go hand in hand with many of today’s sales in Britain and Ireland. However, in Goffs UK’s case, a notable gap was plugged by the presence of a healthy contingent of Scandinavian buyers.

Several years ago, Goffs UK launched an initiative whereby every breezer catalogued gained automatic entry into the following year’s Swedish Classic series. With the help of Goffs Scandinavian representative Filip Zwicky, the alliance gained traction as time went on, aided in part by graduates such as Victor Kalejs, the champion Swedish two-year-old of 2016 who was sold by Brown Island Stables to Roy Kvisla, and this year’s UAE 2,000 Guineas third Red Cactus.

Buoyed by such results, more Scandinavian buyers than ever before made the trip to last month’s sale – and they couldn’t have been more welcome as the purchasers of ten horses worth almost £500,000. Along the way, they secured several high-profile lots, among them a colt by The Factor who made £130,000 to champion Danish trainer Bent Olsen and an Elusive Quality colt who was knocked down to Zwicky for £110,000.

This year’s Goffs UK Breeze-Up Sale ended with a record average of £45,750 but needless to say, given that Scandinavian interests operated at every level of the market, the renewal would have looked quite different without their enthusiasm. For that, the alliance deserves to be applauded and let’s hope that another Victor Kalejs is lurking within their purchases this year.

Timing of the essence

While we might not have reached the stage of official timings at the breeze-ups just yet, what this sales season has again highlighted is a seemingly increasing reliance on the clock. As ever, the breezes ahead of each auction have been well attended, and then no sooner has the last horse passed up the track, then there is a scurry to collate and digest all the data.

It has been particularly notable this season how some sales companies have made use of that knowledge to advertise a quick animal from the rostrum while it’s in the ring, even though the times aren’t widely available beyond insiders. That is understandable in today’s world when a swift breeze is such a key selling point; look no further than the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Breeze-Up Sale, which was topped by a £110,000 son of Swiss Spirit who had reputedly turned in the fastest time the previous day.

The breeze-ups are there to offer an insight into a horse’s ability and in that respect a good showing against the clock is obviously important. However, I can’t help feeling that too much reliance remains a dangerous road to go down, especially when the times are split by such narrow margins that could be influenced by several factors, among them a difference in weights. It also continues to place some consignors in a bit of a quandary; give the market what it wants and push for a good time while running the risk of doing too much, or let the horse work comfortably and risk taking a hit in the ring.

We all know examples of breezers both quick and slow who have gone on to do good things. Perhaps the most unlikely slow breezer of them all was Margot Did, the Nunthorpe Stakes winner bought by Richard Frisby for just 10,000gns at the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale. And only last month, another inexpensive breezer, Lorelei Rock, made a winning debut at Leopardstown to make a mockery of her £10,000 purchase price at Ascot in April, one realised off the back of a green breeze. No doubt more will follow.

Urban Sea’s Derby

Another year, another Derby awash with Urban Sea. The Tsui family’s legendary mare has featured in the backgrounds of six of the past 11 Derby winners, whether as the dam of Sea The Stars, the 2009 hero who went on to sire Harzand, or Galileo, sire of Australia, Ruler Of The World and New Approach, in turn the sire of last year’s winner Masar. And yet again she sits at the forefront of this year’s showpiece, and not just via the likes of Japan, Anthony Van Dyck, Line Of Duty, Bangkok and Broome, who between them represent a wealth of talent by Galileo and Australia, but also as the third dam of Sir Dragonet, the highly impressive winner of the Chester Vase.

At the time of writing, the son of Camelot still needed supplementing into the race by Ballydoyle. But should connections choose to go that route, he surely goes there with a strong chance of becoming the second triumphant descendant of Urban Sea in as many years after Masar.