The breeze-up sector has grown out of all recognition over the past few decades. Today it’s a big business with investment in the raw material annually running to over £20 million at the European yearling sales. At the other end, the finished article is assessed by an increasingly astute buying bench, many of them with the clock and tools to produce a range of measurements to hand.

If recent results are anything to go by, then ignore this sector at your peril. Since 2015, it has produced close to 400 stakes winners in the northern hemisphere, among them over 30 Group 1 winners. They include Vandeek, who won the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes for Simon and Ed Crisford after jointly topping last year’s Tattersalls Craven Sale at 625,000gns to Stroud Coleman, acting on behalf of KHK Racing. Sold by Glending Stables, Vandeek is the second highest-rated two-year-old colt in Britain to emerge out of the Craven Sale in three years after Native Trail, the champion two-year-old of 2021 who went on to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas at three. In between, Arqana May graduate Lezoo flew the flag, winning the Cheveley Park Stakes to end the year as Cartier Champion Two-year-old Filly.

Spaces in this year’s round of auctions have been hotly contested

Nor was Vandeek the only high-flying breeze-up graduate of last year. His stable-mate Carla’s Way, sold by Grove Stud for £350,000 at the Goffs Breeze-Up at Doncaster, dominated the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on her penultimate start. Meanwhile, the venerable Trueshan added a further Group 1 to his record for Alan King in the Prix du Cadran, Bradsell won the King’s Stand Stakes and Eldar Eldarov took the Irish St Leger.

Vandeek: unbeaten Group 1 winner co-topped last year’s Tattersalls Craven Sale. Photo – Bill Selwyn

By all accounts, spaces in this year’s round of auctions, which start with the Tattersalls Craven Sale on April 15 – 17, have been hotly contested, with each sale well oversubscribed with nominations. This is an area of the market, however, which is served well by keeping numbers tight, for all that each sale last year experienced growth in turnover and average.

Is it too much to expect further growth this time around? All was not plain sailing during some of the later yearling sales last year but then this is a particularly success-driven area of the market.  As the likes of Vandeek and Trueshan illustrate, breezers are more than holding their own at the top end domestically. Added to that, they are becoming ever more prominent on a global scale, especially in the Middle East. As such, there is a general positivity heading into the season, including from both Tattersalls and Goffs.

The sires represented in the sale speaks for themselves

Tattersalls have put together 180 lots for its Craven Sale, all of whom are eligible for the £250,000 Tattersalls Craven Royal Ascot/Group 1 bonus. The scheme offers a £125,000 bonus for the first Craven winner of any of the six two-year-old races at Royal Ascot and an additional £125,000 bonus to the first winner of any of the 15 European Group 1 races open to two-year-olds. The Group 1 bonus was won last year by the connections of Vandeek.

“The sires represented in the sale speaks for themselves,” says Tattersalls marketing director Jimmy George. “We have progeny of nine of last year’s top ten sires catalogued. They include a colt from Glending Stables who will be the last ever Galileo to be offered as a breeze-up horse [Lot 112, a colt out of Manderley]. It’s nice that he’s coming from the same consignors as Vandeek.

“It’s a hard sale to ignore. When a sale produces two of the last three highest-rated juvenile colts in Britain and then also keeps producing Group 1 winners with such regularity, you have to sit up and take notice, especially as numerically its never going to be that big. It’s a sale that is a very good showcase of the craft of the breeze-up consignors who do a fantastic job year after year and I think it has done a good job of convincing the few remaining breeze-up sceptics of the strengths of these sales.”

The Craven Bonus is now in its fourth year and with two Group 1 winners already on the books, has understandably become a talking point. However, as George points out, there is actually a range of incentives to be taken advantage of throughout the catalogue.

“Firstly, they’re all eligible for the £250,000 Tattersalls Craven Bonus,” he says. “But there are others who are also eligible for the Book 1 bonus, Tattersalls October Auction Stakes, Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Stakes, Tattersalls Somerville Auction Stakes and the Swedish Derby and Oaks. Some are also qualified for French premiums. A lot of the two-year-olds catalogued are eligible to win considerably more than the prize-money figure at the top of the page – there are opportunities out there.”

Tattersalls are hopeful of a strong international presence, particularly from the Middle East, where the racing programme continues to expand. The same goes for the team at Goffs, which stages its breeze-up in Doncaster on April 23 – 24.

Goffs have produced an expanded catalogue of 235 horses

Goffs rightly take great pride in the fact the sale has produced nine Royal Ascot winners in eight years. The most recent is the Mark Grant-sold Bradsell, who supplemented his win in the 2022 Coventry Stakes for Victorious Racing and Archie Watson with a victory in last year’s King’s Stand Stakes.

Top sprinter Bradsell was sold at Doncaster by Mark Grant. Photo – Bill Selwyn

“That the big stat for us – nine Royal Ascot winners in eight years,” says Tim Kent, managing director of Goffs UK. “Carla’s Way was also obviously very impressive when she won the Rockfel and Beautiful Diamond went on to win the Harry Rosebery Stakes [in which she beat another sale graduate in Purosangue].”

Goffs have produced an expanded catalogue of 235 horses, which is 24 more than last year. As with the Craven Sale, a range of leading sires are represented, including Blue Point, Havana Grey, Mehmas, No Nay Never, Siyouni and Too Darn Hot.

“We were hugely oversubscribed,” says Kent. “We actually had 350 more nominations than last year and it was a difficult selection process. Ultimately, the average purchase price of the horses is six per cent higher than last year. It’s all very well the inspectors coming back and saying that the standard is very good but the purchase prices of these horses backs that up as does hearing what the vendors have to say.”

With the catalogue in hand, the Goffs team have spent a busy spring on the road drumming up business.

“The challenge now is to get the buyers to the sale,” says Kent. “The key is the domestic market and getting in as many new faces as we can while also focussing on our established clients.

“Tom Taaffe and myself were also recently in the Middle East, where we visited Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar with the help of GBRI. We also have 35 horses catalogued who are eligible for the Swedish Derby and Oaks series and Michael Orton and Bernard Condren have been in Sweden promoting the sale.

“Last year, we had seven buyers from Italy and this year we already have 13 booked in. Bernard will also be in Italy for when the Breeze-Up Consignors Association sponsor the Listed Premio Seregno in late March at Milan. And we’re doing more in France – Celine Orton is promoting the sale for us there.”


‘The Pinatubo colt looks very sharp’

“I have two Pinatubos, one for the Craven and one for Arqana. I haven’t done a lot with the Arqana horses but the colt for the Craven looks very sharp. I brought him up for an away day the other day and he went quite well. He has a good temperament, he’s a straightforward kind of guy. I also have a nice Wooded for Arqana.” Johnny Collins, Brown Island Stables

“I have colts by Arizona and Sergei Prokofiev that I like a lot. They’re two big horses going to the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Sale. They’ve got good attitudes and both are fine movers. I’m very happy with them at this stage.” Darragh Lordan, Innishannon Valley Stud

“I have a very nice Hello Youmzain heading to France. I like him so much that I’ve actually sent mares to France to go to the horse. My horse has a brilliant attitude – if they all have his attitude, then the sire will be ok. I’ve also got an Authentic colt I bought in Kentucky going to Arqana. He’s a big, good-moving horse, probably more of a two-turn horse but he has a big action – he really gets over the ground well.” Eddie O’Leary, Lynn Lodge Stud

“I’ve got a very good colt by Tiz The Law going to Arqana. I bought him at Fasig-Tipton in October and he’s done very well since then. He’s showing all the right signs at the moment.” Tom Whitehead, Powerstown Stud

“I’ve got a ripper of a Golden Horde colt for Doncaster. We bought him last year art La Test [Osarus]. I just liked the stallion as a physical and this horse is very similar – all muscle. Hopefully he’ll fly.” Roderic Kavanagh, Glending Stables

“I have a nice colt by Ghaiyyath who was bought at the Tattersalls December Sale. He’s a May foal and doing everything very nicely. A lovely, balanced colt, he should be a very nice back end two-year-old.” Jim McCartan, Gaybrook Lodge Stud

Pinatubo: first 2yos will be sold at the upcoming breeze-up sales. Photo – Darley


Saudi sponsorship a success

Ever resourceful, the breeze-up community broke new ground in Saudi Arabia last month when sponsoring The 1000 Championship – the Saudi Arabian equivalent of the 1,000 Guineas – at Riyadh.

The sector heads into the sales season on a high, thanks in part to the achievements of current Group 1 winners such as Vandeek, Trueshan, Bradsell and Eldar Eldarov.

At the same time, however, breezers are establishing an increasingly strong presence in the Middle East. That is particularly true in Saudi Arabia, where recent graduates include local Group winners Mazyuna and Ajwadi as well as last year’s 2000 Championship winner Almurtajiz.

By all accounts, the decision to capitalise on that momentum and turn to sponsorship was a success for the Breeze-Up Consignors Association (BUCA). An organisation partly funded by the consignors to promote the sector, it was represented in Riyadh by Brendan Holland of Grove Stud and Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud.

“I thought it worked very well,” says McCartan. “We met some good people who were genuinely interested in what we were trying to promote and appreciative of the sponsorship. 

“It’s become a very important part of our market. There seems to be plenty of people looking to buy in the £40,000 – £100,000 range. But then you have others, like Najd Stud, playing at a higher end. They’re all very enthusiastic.”

The race was won by Aljood, a Frosted filly sourced out of the Florida two-year-old sales. However, not beaten far in second was the Irish-produced filly Nermeen, a graduate of Tom Whitehead’s Powerstown Stud who was sold to owner Ahmad Abdul Wahid for the equivalent of €250,000 at the Goffs Dubai Breeze-Up Sale. The daughter of More Than Ready had previously won her second start at Riyadh by a wide margin.

“Obviously if Tom’s filly had won, then that would have been the icing on the cake,” says McCartan. “As it was she ran a lovely race. All the owners were there and they brought all their family and friends. You could see that it means a lot and that they were really enjoying it.”

As if to prove the point on the growing Saudi Arabian prominence of breezers, Ajwadi and Saudi Neom ran second and third in The 2000 Championship the following week. The pair were sourced out of the Tattersalls Craven and Goffs Doncaster Breeze-Up Sales respectively.

Meanwhile, BUCA have also been busy promoting the sales in Italy, where it sponsored the Listed Premio Seregno at Milan. 

The association also hope to tap into the Swedish market by sponsoring alongside Irish Thoroughbred Marketing at Jagersro in Sweden in late April.

The connections of Aljood celebrate their win in The 1000 Championship, sponsored by BUCA. Brendan Holland and Jim McCartan (second right and far right) were on hand to represent the association. Photo – BUCA