The yearling sales are upon us again – a marathon that lasts for months on end with buyers trying to uncover that next champion. When you look at our table of top-rated horses that were sold at public auction since 2010 in Europe, potential purchasers can certainly take plenty of heart. There are a range of prices, and indeed a range of sales venues, represented.

It may surprise most people that the best-performed sales horse in the period is not a graduate of Tattersalls Book 1. The best two were sold at Arqana for an average of £64,106 and the third best was bought at Doncaster for £65,000. According to Timeform, the Arqana graduates Toronado and Almanzor are the best with ratings of 133, whilst Olympic Glory (Doncaster Premier) and Australia (Tattersalls Book 1) are next best on a rating of 132.

It just goes to show that there is great value to be had at all of Europe’s top yearling auctions

But what’s really noticeable is that the lesser sales venues are well represented throughout the top-rated list. There are no fewer than six Doncaster graduates among the top 22 sales graduates. Moreover, there are only five in the top 20 graduates that cost more than £100,000, headed by Derby winners Australia and Camelot, who both cost 525,000gns. It just goes to show that there is great value to be had at all of Europe’s top yearling auctions.

When we look at all the thoroughbreds that have earned a Timeform rating of 120 or higher since 2011 that were sold in the ring as yearlings, it is surprising how diverse their backgrounds are. Predictably, Tatts Book 1 accounts for most of these 120-plus runners with 33. However, that accounts for only 25% of the total of 134. What’s more, the average price of the 33 was £404,536. Tatts Book 2 was the sales venue for 22 (15%) of the 120-plus runners. Their average price was mere in comparison at £76,602, and the sale’s top-performed horses included Mecca’s Angel (11,200gns), Jack Hobbs (60,000gns), Hartnell (45,000gns) and this season’s excellent sprint star Battaash (200,000gns).

Arqana has provided 19 (14%) 120-plus rated runners in the period at an average price of £124,353. As well as Toronado and Almanzor, the sale is also responsible for Group 1 winners Belardo (€100,000), Signs Of Blessing (€102,000) and this year’s Derby winner Wings Of Eagles, who was well bought at €220,000.

Goffs, meanwhile, has sold 16 horses since 2010 that have gone on to achieve a Timeform rating of 120 or higher. Once again there’s plenty of value to be had at the Kill venue. With an average price of £91,967, the sale’s current poster boy is multiple Group 1 winner and Timeform 131-rated Ribchester (€105,000).

Their second-best horse in the period was bargain-buy Designs On Rome (€10,500), whilst they’ve also sold Group 1 winners Voleuse de Coeurs, Here Comes When, Sky Lantern, Simple Verse and Covert Love, all of whom achieved Timeform ratings of 120 or higher. Perhaps the best of the main sales for sheer value is Doncaster Premier. Thirteen of their graduates have gone on to achieve a 120-plus rating for an average price of £62,615.

Moreover, eight of the 13 are Group 1 winners, which is second only to Tatts Book 1 among British and Irish sales venues. True to its policy of wanting to offer speed and precocity as well as class, Doncaster’s top horses include Olympic Glory (£65,000), Limato (£41,000), Harry Angel (£44,000), Peniaphobia (£20,000), Slade Power (£5,000), Barney Roy (£70,000), Toormore (£36,000) and Tiggy Wiggy (£41,000) – all very effective at up to a mile.

Tatts Ireland provided five 120-plus rated runners in the period at an average price of £16,915. Lethal Force (€8,500), Galileo Gold (€33,000) and Pether’s Moon (€52,000) have been flying the flag for the Fairyhouse sale in recent years.

Top-class racehorses don’t have to cost the earth, and, as this analysis shows us, they don’t. It’s a sobering thought that of the 20 yearlings that have both sold for a million sterling or more and have been rated by Timeform, only two, Douglas McArthur and Sir Isaac Newton, have reached or surpassed the Timeform-120 standard. Even more eye-watering is the fact that the 20 together have an average Timeform rating of just 98.

European sales yearlings 2010-2016 ranked by Timeform rating

TFR Form Name Sex Sire Price £ Sale
133 G1w Almanzor C Wootton Bassett 80,262 ARAUG
133 G1w Toronado C High Chaparral 47,950 ARAUG
132 G1w Australia C Galileo 551,250 TAOC1
132 G1w Olympic Glory C Choisir 65,000 DNPRM
131 G1w Ribchester C Iffraaj 81,996 GOOY1
130 G1w Designs on Rome G Holy Roman Emperor 9,130 GOOY1
130 G1w Postponed C Dubawi 378,000 TAOC1
129 G1w Harry Angel C Dark Angel 44,000 DNPRM
129 G1w Highland Reel C Galileo 483,000 TAOC1
129 G1w Jack Hobbs C Halling 63,000 TAOC2
129 G1w Limato G Tagula 41,000 DNPRM
129 G1w Meccas Angel F Dark Angel 16,800 TAOC2
128 G1w Camelot C Montjeu 551,250 TAOC1
128 G1w Hartnell G Authorized 47,250 TAOC2
128 G1w Lethal Force C Dark Angel 7,138 TISEP
128 G1w Peniaphobia G Dandy Man 20,000 DNPRM
128 G1w The Grey Gatsby C Mastercraftsman 19,544 AROCT
127 G1w Barney Roy C Excelebration 70,000 DNPRM
127 G1w Charm Spirit C Invincible Spirit 114,004 AROCT
127 G1w Night of Thunder C Dubawi 33,600 TAOC1
127 G1w Slade Power C Dutch Art 5,000 DNPRM
127 G2wG1p Strada Colorato G Le Vie Dei Colori 10,500 TAOC2
126 G3w Battaash G Dark Angel 210,000 TAOC2
126 G1w G Force G Tamayuz 73,500 TADEY
126 G1w Galileo Gold C Paco Boy 25,881 TISEP
126 G2wG1p Jimmy Two Times C Kendargent 67,357 AROCT
126 G2wG1p Mutakayyef G Sea the Stars 273,000 TAOC1
126 G1w Quiet Reflection F Showcasing 32,000 DNSIL
126 G1w The Tin Man G Equiano 84,000 TAOC1