Far from a cause for celebration but acceptable. That was the feeling of Goffs Group Chief Executive Henry Beeby after the company’s Autumn Yearling Sale, the first of its kind to be held as an online auction, had drawn to a close on Wednesday evening.

Having accepted 2,261 bids online alongside plenty of interest via telephone, Goffs were able to report that 170 yearlings had changed hands for a total of €1,094,200. That figure represented a drop of 35%, although that was not wholly unsurprising given the number of yearlings offered fell by 29%.

However, the average rose by 10% to €6,436 while the median increased by 10% to €4,400.

“Adaptability,” said Beeby in his end of sale statement. “That is one of the key words that sums up the bloodstock industry throughout this awful pandemic as all of us have had to react and adapt to circumstances that have been both out of our control and unlike anything we have experienced.

“The last two days have been a very clear example of reacting and adapting as a purely online sale, devoid of both horses and people, was never a first preference but was forced upon us by the latest Irish restrictions and the need of vendors to sell into the market place. Originally, we had planned to hold the sale in January in the hope that the situation would have improved enough to hold a live sale with the usual participants in Kildare Paddocks, and we will still provide that option if the market wants it, but it became clear that the majority of vendors desired the opportunity provided by Goffs Online. Indeed, we salute the flexibility and positivity in which so many have approached the last two days and feel that the decision was vindicated by a level of trade which, although far from a cause for celebration, was acceptable in the current climate.

“We have taken 2,261 bids via Goffs Online, backed up by a lot of telephone activity, and that has led to 10% advances in the average and median although the turnover is obviously well down as we offered a significantly smaller number than 12 months ago. That said, a 62% clearance rate demonstrates the challenges for the market, but it should be noted that part of the service provided was to allow breeders the chance to qualify for 2021 Auction Races and we are grateful to both HRI and BHA for making the necessary alterations to the criteria to allow these yearlings to be eligible; obviously those “Vendor” sales are not included in the clearance rate we quote.”

Trade was topped by a son of New Approach sold during the first session by Clare Manning’s Boherguy Stud for €40,000 to E. Hannon.

Originally catalogued to sell at the company’s Sportsman’s Sale, the colt is a half-brother to a winner and was bred by Jim Bolger out of the winning Neophilia, a Teofilo relation to recent Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Gear Up. He is also inbred to Galileo in a manner similar to that behind Bolger’s Vertem Futurity winner Mac Swiney.

Three other yearlings broke the €30,000 barrier headed by a Zoffany filly from Glacken View who made €33,000 to Al and Bill Ulwelling.

A half-sister to two winners, she is out of the unraced Verglas mare Watsdaplan, a half-sister to American Grade 1 winner Watsdachances.

Beeby added: “The Goffs Autumn Yearling Sale has always relied heavily on overseas participation and Goffs Online has really come into its own over the two days with buyers from Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, UK and the USA. The user friendly nature of this platform has made it very easy for them to engage at a time when travel is not possible and we wish all of them the best of luck with their latest Goffs purchases.

“So, whilst we will not look back on the 2020 renewal of the Autumn Yearling Sale with any affection, we extend our thanks to everyone who has helped the sale take place and, like the whole world, we just hope and pray that a degree of normality will return soon as there’s nothing like the Goffs sales ring when it is buzzing with horses, people and bids.”