Focus on quality as breeze-up circuit moves to Doncaster

The sale has assumed an influential role within its niche since its inception as Europe’s first breeze-up back in 1977

The crowd looks on as a horse breezes on the Doncaster turf ahead of the 2018 Goffs UK Breeze-Up – Photo: Sarah Farnsworth/Goffs UK

In terms of winners, the Goffs UK Doncaster Breeze-Up Sale led the way among all of its kind in 2018, firing out 212 winners across the year, among them 58 two-year-old scorers.

It’s an impressive tally befitting of a sale that has assumed an influential role within its niche since its inception as Europe’s first ever breeze-up back in 1977. Along the way, there has been a Classic winner in Speciosa, who was successful in the 2006 1,000 Guineas, as well as other major performers of their time such as Dream Ahead, Paco Boy and Quiet Reflection. Indeed, the latter emerged during a golden era for the sale that also included the Royal Ascot two-year-old winners Prince Of Lir and Ardad.

This year’s sale, which is set for Thursday following Wednesday’s breeze, consists of 160 lots, down from 207 in 2018 when £5,528,000 was turned over on the sales of 138 youngsters. Trade at the top end of last year’s market was healthy, as illustrated by the presence of a £220,000 Kyllachy colt, the highlight of three that day to hit the £200,000 mark.

However, final figures failed to keep pace against 2017, with the average falling by 11% to £40,058 and the median taking a tumble of 13% to £26,000. In keeping with the breeze-up sales season in general, it was again an issue of supply outweighing demand; hopefully this year’s decision to tighten the catalogue will go some way to addressing that issue.

“We have tightened up the catalogue,” says Tony Williams, Managing Director of Goffs UK, “but I think at the same time that the consignors have tightened up their numbers as well. It seems that they spent the same amount of money but on fewer horses. They have brought some excellent physicals here.”

He adds: “I think the vendors will be very happy with the ground at Doncaster. What a difference a year makes – last year, we were almost under water but this year it is good ground and with a nice cushion on it. The team kept the water on and have done a fantastic job.”

The breeze-up community would be forgiven, however, for heading to Doncaster with some apprehension following the manner in which the season has unfolded to date.

The circuit opener, Tattersalls Ireland’s Ascot Breeze-Up Sale, featured a solid yet unspectacular trade that resulted in an 86% clearance rate. Matters then stepped up a few gears last week for the first of the Newmarket breeze-ups, the Tattersalls Craven Sale, at which an auction high for a filly was set by the sale of a daughter of Kingman to Godolphin for 850,000gns.

That record was achieved, however, against a precarious backdrop that featured an alarming reliance on Godolphin – Sheikh Mohammed’s operation signed for seven of the top ten lots while accounting for 28% of the 10,343,000gns turnover. Against that, a host of big names were missing, among them Shadwell Estates, King Power Racing, Qatar Racing, Al Shaqab and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“Last week was a bit tricky,” says Willie Browne, whose Mocklershill will offer 12 two-year-olds in Doncaster this week. “You take Sheikh Mohammed out of it and it was a bit worrying. The first day was poor but the second day read a bit better. It’s strange when you have a two-day sale and they can be as different as night and day but that was the way it played out.”

He adds: “I’ve always been of the opinion that the top end of the market will always be fine. It’s the middle and bottom that you have to worry about.

“My horses are not renowned for doing the fastest breezes. But I’m happy with my 12 and I think I have some good horses. If the punters turn up, I think I’m in good shape.”

One beneficial factor to this week’s middle market is likely to be the 2020 Scandinavian Classic series, for which every lot catalogued has automatic entry. It’s an association that has been productive for both sides in recent years, with an increased Scandinavian buying presence resulting in purchases such as Victor Kalejs, the champion Swedish two-year-old of 2016 who was sold by Brown Island Stables to Roy Kvisla, and the highly-rated Scandinavian juvenile Sir Churchill, who was sold last year by Mocklershill for £85,000 to Mme Fernande.

“The barometer I go by are hotel bookings,” says Williams, “and at the moment, we’ve had an increase from last year. The Scandinavian partnership has worked really well. They’ve bought some very nice horses and this year it looks like we’ll have more Scandinavian buyers than ever before.”

As ever, a smart performance during Wednesday’s breeze will prove crucial to how matters play out in the ring. However, several catalogued have the additional advantage of a big pedigree, meaning that it could also pay to watch out for the following sextet.

4: b c Gleneagles – One Chance (Invincible Spirit)

Bought for €70,000 by his vendors as a yearling, this colt is the first foal out of the 2013 Queen Mary Stakes third One Chance. In turn, she is a granddaughter of the Niarchos family’s Cheveley Park Stakes runner-up Imperfect Circle and therefore a member of the same family as Pathfork and War Of Will. He is the first of two catalogued by his sire, who made the perfect start to his career when his first runner, Highland Chief, landed a traditionally hot maiden at Newbury for Paul Cole ten days ago.

“The Gleneagles colt is very sharp,” says John Cullinan of Horse Park Stud. “He looks precocious. I’m not sure if he’s typical of the sire but he looks quick and he’s well up for it.”

Church Farm & Horse Park Stud

9: b c Showcasing – Pickle (Piccolo)

Pickle was an excellent and tough performer herself, winning seven races at home and in the US including the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap and Grade 3 Yerba Buena Breeders’ Cup. And now she is forging a fine record at stud as the dam of five winners from as many runners, led by the Listed scorers Gusto and Beauly, herself also a smart breezer.

This 52,000gns pinhook is the first of nine catalogued by Showcasing, who shares his sire Oasis Dream with Gusto.

Longways Stables

Muhaarar will have two lots go under the hammer at this year’s Goffs UK Breeze-Up – Photo: George Selwyn

107: b c Muhaarar – Dusky Queen (Shamardal)

There are immense expectations surrounding the first crop of Muhaarar, the champion three-year-old sprinter of 2015, so there will be plenty of eyes on his pair of representatives catalogued this week at Doncaster.

Lot 107, bred by the China Horse Club out of the tough Listed winner Dusky Queen, was originally purchased by Camas Park Stud for €200,000 as a foal but was withdrawn from last year’s Goffs Orby Sale.

Muhaarar is also represented by lot 6, a half-brother to Listed winner Bebhinn from the fast family of Prix Robert Papin winner Ocean Ridge from Lynn Lodge Stud.

Oak Tree Farm

112: b f Siyouni – Fig Roll (Bahamian Bounty)

Bought for £95,000 by vendor Longways Stables out of last year’s Goffs UK Premier Sale, this daughter of Siyouni reigns as the most expensive filly pinhooked following the withdrawals of lots 116 and 141.

This is a quick family associated with juvenile speed. Her dam, Fig Roll, was winning in May of her two-year-old career and went on to land the Empress Stakes, while her granddam Cake was actually Acclamation’s first ever winner and went on to win the St Hugh’s Stakes.

Longways Stables

115: b f Kodiac – Good Clodora (Red Clubs)

It is remarkable to think that Tally-Ho Stud were among the vendors at the first ever Doncaster breeze-up back in 1977. Today 42 years on, they remain as prominent as ever on the breeze-up scene, as we saw again last week in Newmarket when they supplied the 850,000gns sale-topper at the Tattersalls Craven Sale.

The O’Callaghan’s outfit arrives in Doncaster this year with a draft of 18 youngsters, among them this homebred sister to celebrated breezer Ardad, the 2016 Flying Childers and Windsor Castle Stakes winner who now stands at Overbury Stud.

Tally-Ho Stud will offer a sister 2016 Windsor Castle Stakes hero Ardad – Photo: George Selwyn

Their dam, Good Clodora, was bred by Roger and Henry O’Callaghan out of their wonderful mare Geht Schnell. She bred three stakes winners in all led by Ruby Rocket, a very quick Listed winner who went on to produce Prix de l’Abbaye hero Maarek.

Tally-Ho Stud

160: b c Exceed And Excel – Nidhaal (Observatory)

This colt, as the last lot through the ring, could ensure the sale ends on a high note given his eye-catching connections.

Bought for 210,000gns by Jamie Railton as a foal, he is a brother to the very quick Burwaaz, who ran second in the 2011 Flying Childers Stakes, as well as the three-time winner Kowaiyess. Their dam, Nidhaal, was also a quick two-year-old who enjoyed her finest moment when successful in the Dick Poole Stakes for Ed Dunlop.

Powerstown Stud

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