A robust renewal of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale drew to a close in Newmarket on Saturday afternoon with a set of figures virtually on a par with last year, when the world wasn’t stricken by Covid-19.

Tattersalls hosted the entry of 934 foals this year, down 17% from 2019. Yet despite that, the aggregate dropped by only 11% to 26,255,100gns. 

The average fell by only 6% to 41,807gns while the median dropped by 9% to 20,000gns.

The clearance rate actually improved to 79%.

This Dubawi half-brother to Skitter Scatter topped the Tattersalls December Foal Sale at 700,000gns. Photo – Tattersalls

Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony reflected on the ‘extraordinary resilience’ of the market in these difficult times.

He said: “We felt that the relative strength of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sales would provide a solid platform for the December foals and this has been borne out by another 2020 sale at Park Paddocks which has held up remarkably well under the current circumstances, and particularly considering the continued widespread travel restrictions.

“Despite having the smallest Tattersalls December Foal catalogue since 2001, with 191 fewer foals catalogued than last year, the sale has achieved turnover just over 10% below last year’s lofty returns and single digit declines in average and median. Not for the first time this year we can reflect on a market which has displayed extraordinary and commendable resilience, most graphically illustrated by a clearance rate which compares favourably not only with 2019, but also with the majority of recent renewals of Europe’s premier foal sale.

“Trade has been competitive throughout the week, starting with sustained demand for the yearlings and flowing consistently through four days of the cream of the British and Irish foal crop. As ever the sale has been dominated by pinhookers and we applaud them for their huge contribution, but even more so in this strangest of years. The sale has been conducted under the strictest of health protocols and the compliance and awareness of all the rules and regulations has been admirable, as has the acceptance that we have not been able to provide the full Tattersalls sales experience in the current environment.

“Nevertheless, we have sold 64 foals for 100,000 guineas or more this week, including Airlie Stud’s outstanding sale-topping Dubawi colt, whose 700,000gns price tag is the second highest for a colt foal at this fixture. 

“In addition to the individual highlights, we have had widespread participation, some of it online, from buyers from throughout Europe, Japan, North America and the Gulf region, all of which gives encouragement as we turn our attention to the annual showcase of Europe’s finest breeding stock at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale.”

Pinhookers out in force

The first crop of Coolmore’s Sioux Nation have gained good reviews throughout the week, for which there was further evidence on Saturday in the sale of a strong colt from Barton Stud for 88,000gns to agent Alex Elliott.

The session-topping youngster is the second foal out of Autumn Snow, a mere 1,500gns purchase by Rebecca Matthews of the Brigadier Partnership out of the 2019 Tattersalls February Sale. The daughter of Invincible Spirit is a half-sister to the Group 2-placed Figure Of Speech.

“He was the stand-out foal today,” said Tom Blain, managing director of Barton Stud. “We deliberately came today to sell on the Saturday to stand-out and it is a fantastic result. 

“This was an investment by the breeders to get a bloodstock business going so this is really a great start. I am delighted for them.”

Plans likely call for the colt to resell next autumn, as they do for an Australia colt secured by agent Matt Houldsworth on behalf of pinhookers Aughamore Stables.

Sold by breeder Stringston Farm, the colt is a half-brother to five winners and out of Bitooh, a Diktat half-sister to Melbourne Cup hero Rekindling.”

“We have bought him for resale,” said Houldsworth. “And we will aim to bring him back to Book 1 or Book 2. It is a smashing family, a quality family that has been in the Pocock family for a time. I am quite big fan of the stallion, he has had a good year.”

Produced out of a 1,500gns mare, this Sioux Nation colt returned a great result for his breeders by selling for 88,000gns. Photo – Tattersalls

Sea The Moon in vogue

One stallion who has never been far from the minds of pinhookers throughout the week has been Lanwades Stud’s Sea The Moon, and he was once again to the fore on Saturday as the sire of a filly who sold for 60,000gns to Horse Park Stud.

Sold by Byerley Stud, the filly is a half-sister to the Listed-placed Bella Vita and out of Garabelle, a Galileo half-sister to Listed winner Maidaan.

“This filly is very nice,” said John Cullinan of Horse Park Stud. “The stallion is on an upward curve given the fact that he has had small crops, he is very promising. He should only continue improving. We have had a couple by Sea The Moon, we liked them, they are straightforward horses. 

“The stallion is one of the current upwardly mobile sires. The mare has also had a black-type runner and is a Galileo mare – it is hard to get stock out of good Galileo mares at my level!”

Vital statistics

Harry Sweeney of the Japanese-based Paca Paca Farm was the leading buyer, with 11 bought for a total of 1,471,000gns. 

Norelands Stud, as the vendor of 1,211,900gns worth of stock, was the week’s leading vendor ahead of Whitsbury Manor Stud, for whom an excellent week consisted of the sale of 19 foals worth a total of 1,209,500gns.