The harsh reality of a post lockdown Covid market hit the European yearling sales season in Deauville on Wednesday as a muted trade dampened the first session of the delayed three-day Arqana Select Sale.

Missing were the million euro transactions, of which there were two in 2019. Instead, it was left to a €620,000 daughter of Dubawi, knocked down to Anthony Stroud on behalf of Godolphin, to lead the way. Hers was a sale that would not have even broken into the top ten last year.

Having said that, the picture will be far clearer after Thursday’s session, which features a number of high-profile lots. They include the Galileo brother to Magic Wand and Dubawi half-sister to Sistercharlie and Sottsass, both of whom will be offered by Ecurie des Monceaux, as well as the Motivator sister to Treve from Haras du Quesnay.

All told, 90 horses sold on Wednesday for a total of €13,592,000 and a clearance rate of 72%. Given the differing nature of this year’s catalogue to previous years, comparisons can not be strictly drawn on a session by session basis but as a measure, the average of €147,739 is running 21% behind last year’s overall level while the median of €115,000 is currently adrift by 8%.

Godolphin make welcome strike

Conspicuous by their absence during the early rounds of this year’s European yearling sale circuit, last year’s leading buyer Godolphin were swift to exert a welcome presence on the day’s proceedings, firstly by going to €260,000 for a son of Lope De Vega before coming out on top at €620,000 for a filly by their stalwart stallion Dubawi. Agent Anthony Stroud signed the ticket on both occasions.

The Dubawi filly had been a bold 300,000gns pinhook by Madison Bloodstock at last year’s Tattersalls December Foal Sale, when the sole entry through the ring by her premier sire. Those high level pinhooks are not for the faint hearted but it has to be said that such elite offerings rarely lose their value and indeed consignor Baroda Stud came out celebrating as she went on to more than double in value.

“She’s a lovely filly,” Baroda’s David Cox told Arqana. “She showed very well and had lots of fans in the ring. 

“She was always a forward kind of filly and this sale comes quite early – we thought she was physically up to it and would stand out, so it worked really well.”

This Dubawi filly blossomed from a 300,000gns foal into a €620,000 session-topper. Photo: Arqana

Bred in Britain by Gestut Hof Ittlingen, the filly is the third foal out of Daytona Bay, winner of the Group 3 Hamburger Stutenpreis. The Motivator mare descends from a fine Ittlingen family that also includes the Classic-placed Diamond Dove.

While Godolphin came away from the first day having spent a total of €880,000, Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company were again a notable absentee from the buyers sheet, as they were at the Goffs UK Premier and BBAG September Sales earlier this month.

Michel Zerolo’s Oceanic Bloodstock was the day’s leading buyer as the purchaser of eight yearlings worth a total of €1,060,000.

Japanese interest fuels strong day for Lope De Vega 

Japanese interests made a significant foray early on into the session with the purchase of a Lope De Vega colt for €480,000 through Sebastian Desmontils’ Chauvigny Global Equine.

The colt is the third foal out of the winning Attractive Lady, a Teofilo half-sister to Grade 1 winner Desert Blanc and to the Listed-winning dam of this year’s 2,000 Guineas runner-up Wichita. He was sold by Haras du Mezeray, who bred him in partnership with Paul Richou.

“He’s for an established client in Japan,” said Desmontils. “We thought he was one of the stand-outs of the sale and Lope De Vega is a proven, high-class sire. A big plus was that he has the physical to match her pedigree and also vetted well. He’s a great mover with a great pedigree.”

This Lope De Vega colt will race for Japanese interests after selling for €480,000. Photo: Zuzanan Lupa

On what was a very good day for Lope De Vega, the star Ballylinch Stud stallion also accounted for a colt out of Foreign Legionary who made €420,000 to Mick Kinane, acting on behalf of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. His sale helped propel Lope De Vega’s average for the day to €310,000 for five sold.

The colt boasts a pedigree of major international appeal as a half-brother to Australian Listed winner Mantastic and close relation of champion Alexander Goldrun.

“I loved him, he was my pick of the sale,” said Kinane,. “He is a lovely model who looks to have a lovely mind. I thought we might have to go hard for him but not quite that hard.”

Kinane later struck at €280,000 for an Almanzor half-brother to American Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City from Ecurie des Monceaux. The colt was the most expensive of six to sell on Wednesday by his first-crop sire, who ended the day with an average of €129,167.

Although unable to assume his regular pole position, Galileo wasn’t also far away from the action as the sire of a €450,000 colt snapped up by David Redvers out of the Ecurie des Monceaux draft.

Co-bred by his vendor with Larry, Nanci and Jaime Roth’s LNJ Foxwoods, the colt is the first foal out of Golden Valentine, a Dalakhani relation to Goldikova who carried the LNJ Foxwood colours to victory in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at Deauville.

“I bought him for a new partnership,” Redvers told Arqana. “He comes from one of the best French studs. I saw him at Monceaux six weeks ago and he’s the one I liked best. I’m delighted, he’s a very good quality colt.”

There was also plenty of interest in the sole European offering from the first crop of Juddmonte’s late American star Arrogate. A homebred from Guy Pariente’s Haras de Colleville, the colt in question is out of the Group 3-placed Kenriya and was knocked down for €260,000 to SARL Trotting Bloodstock. 

The sale continues on Thursday with the second session of selling.