What a difference a year makes. One year on from the Covid-ravaged online renewal of the Tattersalls February Sale and there was much for the sales company to celebrate on Friday as its seasonal curtain-raiser closed its two-day run in Newmarket having hosted its second best ever edition.

Led by the sale of a newly turned yearling by Night Of Thunder who sold for 175,000gns out of the Shadwell Estate Company draft to Ballyhimikin Stud, 328 horses sold for a total of 5,849,100gns – over double that achieved last year. The average rose by 52% to 17,833gns while the median increased by 67% to 10,000gns; however, it must be remembered that last year’s significantly smaller renewal took place online, making year-to-year comparisons virtually meaningless.

“It is good to have made a positive start to 2022,” said Tattersalls Chairman Edmond Mahony. “Last year’s Tattersalls February Sale was conducted under particularly trying circumstances so significant increases in all the key indicators were to be expected, but nevertheless for this year’s February Sale to produce a record median, turnover and average bettered only once, and a clearance rate of 85% is a clear indication of a robust market.

“The quality consignments from Godolphin and Shadwell Estates have again drawn widespread international participation and it is a tribute to the enduring appeal of stock from these two outstanding operations that all of the top ten highest prices at the sale were owned or bred by either Shadwell or Godolphin.

“The obvious highlight of the past two days was the 175,000 guineas Shadwell-bred Night Of Thunder yearling out of Elshaadin who was the second highest priced yearling ever sold at the February Sale, but as is so often the case at Tattersalls sales of this nature, the remarkable diversity of the buyers has been the outstanding feature. Buyers from throughout Europe, the Gulf region and further afield have all made a significant contribution, either in person or bidding online, and the domestic demand has also been a source of encouragement for the wider industry as we look forward to a year of trading hopefully largely unencumbered by the challenges which we have all endured over the past two years.”

Participation from Saudi Arabian interests was a driving force behind Friday’s trade, highlighted by the sale of the Group 3-placed Wuqood for 170,000gns to Najd Stud.

Wuqood: realised 170,000gns to Najd Stud. Photo – Tattersalls

Offered by Barton Sales on behalf of his breeder Shadwell Estate Company, the Dubawi colt won his debut at Gowran Park and ran second in the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes during a productive juvenile campaign for Dermot Weld in 2020, and returned last season to run second in the Listed Trigo Stakes

“He will go to Saudi Arabia and be trained by the champion trainer Abduallah Mishrif,” said Najd representative Saud Al Qahtani after outbidding Ted Durcan. “I think there is a small issue with his wind but we hope that he might improve for the dirt. And he’ll be gelded as well.”

Wuqood was one of three purchases made during the day by Najd Stud; another, recent Newcastle winner Velazquez, was snapped up out of John and Thady Gosden’s yard for 67,000gns.

A busy day for Saudi Arabian interests also featured the sale of four-time winner Habit Rouge for 78,000gns to Andre Pereira on behalf of owner Yousef Alturaif.

“He is a nice horse, he should act on the dirt surface and he gets a mile to 1m2f,” said Pereira of the 93-rated gelding. “We hope he will be good enough for the bigger races in Saudi.”

Habit Rouge: also set to continue his career in Saudi Arabia. Photo – Tattersalls

On a day that featured strong international participation, progressive three-year-old Sydney Street is set for a switch to California after selling for 85,000gns.

The son of Dark Angel arrived into the sale in good form for Hugo Palmer having won his second race, a 7f handicap at Kempton Park off a mark of 85, a performance that duly played out into an 85,000gns valuation in favour of Conall Meegan, acting in partnership with the Californian-based agent Shawn Dugan.

“He was the one I came over to the UK for, so I’m very glad we got him,” said Meegan of the gelding, the winner of two of his seven starts overall. “I’ve done a bit of work with Shawn Dugan over the past 12 months and we’ve had quite a bit of success, and we both agreed that this was the pick of the sale. 

“This horse is made for California – he has a great demeanour, is clean limbed and he came well recommended. Hopefully he’ll be up to stakes class.”

Having wound up as underbidder on Wuqood, Ted Durcan had better luck in his pursuit of several lots out of the Godolphin draft led by Perseus Way, a winning Sea The Stars gelding knocked down for 80,000gns.

Related to last year’s 2,000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas, the son of Sea The Stars scored on debut at Leicester in October for Charlie Appleby prior to two unplaced efforts in novice company.

“He’s for a new syndicate to race on in this country and hopefully he’ll be a good fun horse for them,” said Durcan. “He vetted out well and is fine, big, scopey horse – having the winter on his back will have helped him strengthen up.”

Durcan also struck for the very next lot into the ring, going to 60,000gns for the once-rated Age Of Sail, another formerly trained by Appleby.

A half-brother to Australian Group 1 winner Polarisation, the gelding was sixth on his debut when sent off favourite for a 1m2f novice at Goodwood last September.

“He’s for an existing client to stay in England,” said Durcan. “He ran once at Goodwood at the back end of the season, it was soft ground stuff and he was a weak horse last year.”

The most expensive filly of the day, Social Contact, made a return to familiar territory after changing hands to her breeder Longview Stud.

The daughter of Night Of Thunder justified cramped odds to win well at Southwell last month for Roger Varian and duly attracted attention from several parties, notably Ibrahim Rachid and a representative of Howson and Houldsworth Bloodstock. However, it was Longview Stud who ultimately came out on top, sealing the deal with a single bid of 65,000gns.

Longview Stud bred the filly out of the winning Singspiel mare Operettist, a granddaughter of the French Group 3 winner Quarter Note.

“We bred and sold her as a yearling but as she has won a race now, the boss was keen to buy her back,” said farm manager Jim Scallan.

“She stays in training now, but should be a nice broodmare for the future. The mare [Operettist] has had three out of three now. We have a nice filly by Postponed out of her in the field and a two-year-old by Night Of Thunder in training with William Haggas. He is very nice, too.”

Social Contact: was bought back by her breeder Longview Stud. Photo – Tattersalls