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Yearling Season Under The Microscope

With the major European yearling sales having been and gone, Amy Lynam caught up with seven bloodstock agents to get their highlights of the past few months. Having bought at all levels of the market in multiple countries, they take a moment to reflect on the yearling action before looking ahead to the foal and breeding stock sales.

What was your favourite yearling that you purchased this year?

Grant Pritchard-Gordon (Badgers Bloodstock): Our favourite yearling of the year was lot 308 at Tattersalls; a Kodiac (GB) colt out of Coolnagree (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) from Lodge Park Stud. We were lucky enough to be able to buy him, but had to pay our largest outlay of the year of 525,000gns. Kodiac is emerging as a great stallion over all distances and this colt is closely related to the excellent Hong Kong galloper Lucky Nine (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}).

Kevin Ross: The Acclamation (GB) colt I bought from Rathbarry Stud at Tattersalls Ireland. He was a forward type, with a great walk and lovely attitude.

Eamon Reilly (BBA Ireland): A Camelot (GB) filly I bought at the Goffs Orby Sale for Gerrardstown House Stud (lot 277). She was a beautiful filly; very correct and a good walker. Her dam is a half-sister to Distant Music (Distant View), so it’s a lovely Juddmonte family.

Geoffrey Howson (Howson & Houldsworth Bloodstock): The Brazen Beau (AUS) filly out of Royal Blush (GB) (Royal Applause {GB}), whom we bought for £100,000 at the Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale (lot 203). Now brilliantly named Spurofthemoment (GB), she is a half-sister to group performer A Momentofmadness (GB) (Elnadim), whom we also bought as a yearling, and is now the winner of eight races, including the Portland Handicap. This filly reminded us of her half-brother at the same age. She was bought on behalf of lovely clients, was out of a mare that I had originally bought for her breeder, the underbidder was one of the shrewdest in the game and my mobile went dead during a vital stage of the bidding. All she has to do now is win races.

Laurent Benoit (Broadhurst Agency): The Wootton Bassett (GB) colt out of Hasturianita (IRE) (Dubawi), which I bought at the Arqana August Yearling Sale for €130,000 (lot 310). He was a well-balanced individual, with good length and size–the only thing wrong was that he was a bit too expensive. I like the sire very much; I think he did particularly well with the quality of mares he covered at the beginning of his stallion career.

Peter Doyle (Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock): The Kodiac filly out of Dhuma (GB) (Falco), who we bought for 120,000gns at Tattersalls Book 1. She’s gone to Richard Hannon and reminded us a lot of Tiggy Wiggy (Ire). She was typical of Kodiac; sharp, strong and a good walker.

Shawn Dugan: Can we revisit this question next year? [laughs] The thing is, you can spend a lot of money on a gorgeous yearling, but then they may not have the heart, but then an average-looking yearling can blossom into a phenomenal racehorse. It happens time and time again.

We’re trying to buy an athlete, so we look for black-type in the first or second dam. Next, you have to hope that they come at a reasonable market value, and finally, you have to be the last man standing. Thankfully, we were able to buy a number of yearlings that fit this criteria this year.

What was the yearling that got away (purchased by someone else)?

GPG: I think that the team were most upset to miss out on lot 463 at Tattersalls; the Wootton Bassett colt from Rathbarry Stud that eventually went to Godolphin via Stroud Coleman.

ER: The top lot at Tattersalls Ireland. A Kodiac own-brother to Adaay (Ire), he was a very attractive colt and looked precocious, despite his late-April birthday.

GH: Lot 33 in Tattersalls Book 1–a chestnut colt by Lope de Vega (IRE) out of Peut Etre (IRE) (Whipper). Other than his colour, he was a ringer for Phoenix of Spain (Ire)–our best yearling buy of 2017. He fetched 550,000gns from Stroud Coleman.

KR: The Camelot colt (lot 232) from Ballybin Stud at the Goffs Orby Sale. He was a lovely individual and, of course, Camelot is doing very well. He unfortunately made too much for us. One I think was very well-bought was a Dream Ahead colt (lot 76) out of a Galileo (Ire) mare bought by Patrick Cooper at Tattersalls Ireland.

LB: My pick of the Arqana August Yearling Sale was the Lope De Vega (Ire) colt out of Black Dahlia (GB) (Dansili {GB}), who MV Magnier bought for €900,000 (lot 94). Bred by SF Bloodstock and offered by Ecurie de Monceaux, he was a stunning individual and out of a black-type mare, whose 2-year-old has done very well for Mark Johnston.

PD: It would be dangerous to name one–I don’t like to tempt fate.

SD: We got completely blown out of the water on quite a few, as always; you need deep pockets for the special horses. A few spring to mind, though. We weren’t even underbidder on the No Nay Never filly (lot 100) who sold to MV Magnier for €700,000 at Goffs–she was a rockstar, and unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who fell in love with the gorgeous Camelot filly (lot 295) Godolphin bought there for €500,000. We knew we were in deep yoghurt with the Dubawi filly (lot 389) from Newsells Park Stud at Tattersalls Book 1, so we just watched her sell.

What progeny of the new stallions impressed you?

GPG: The Hong Kong Jockey Club team did not buy any progeny of first-season sires, but the progeny of Free Eagle regularly caught the eye, while there were some very good-looking progeny of Gleneagles. The year of the eagle?

ER: I bought a couple of fillies by Make Believe (GB) that I really liked; they were attractive types and he, himself, was a very good racehorse. I saw some cracking colts by Free Eagle (Ire); nice, correct individuals, though they might need a bit of time.

GH: Muhaarar (GB) would be my tip for leading first-season sire next year. The Brazen Beau horses, in addition to the aforementioned yearling purchase, looked like early 2-year-old types. The Gleneagles (Ire) colts sold by Newsells Park at Doncaster and Whatton Manor at Tattersalls Book 2 were lovely, as was Rathbarry’s Golden Horn (GB) colt at Book 1. Anjaal (GB) could prove similar to his stud-mate, Bungle Inthejungle (GB).

KR: The Night Of Thunder (Ire) yearlings were very strong, correct horses and good walkers. We didn’t buy any but did bid on one- the relation to Prince Bishop (IRE) (Dubawi) at Tattersalls Ireland.

LB: I liked the stock of Gleneagles–he has stamped them well as racey, well-balanced horses with a nice quality about them. The yearlings by Night Of Thunder were powerful types and I like that he, himself, is by Dubawi and out of a Galileo mare. I bought a very nice colt by Gleneagles, but given that I have a small number of yearlings to buy, I tend to stick with proven sires- they would make up about 85% of my purchases. I do like looking at their first crop, though, as it helps with planning matings.

PD: We saw some very nice stock by Gleneagles; they were good walkers with a nice outlook. We bought a lovely colt by him at Baden-Baden, which is heading to Wido Neuroth in Norway, and a nice filly at Goffs for Thurloe Thoughbreds, who have been clients of ours for over 25 years. I hope they are as fast as he was.

SD: The yearlings by Gleneagles stood out; they were athletic types with a lot of presence. Those by Muhaarar were also very athletic and sold well, while we also liked the Gutaifan (Ire) yearlings–we bought a very good-looking filly by him from Baroda & Colbinstown Studs at Tattersalls.

Which stallions do you consider to be under appreciated?

GPG: We are amazed how sometimes yearling prices do not reflect racecourse success. Camelot has had an outstanding year on the racecourse and also produced some very athletic yearlings-as our team are focused on buying sprinters, we were not in a position to buy any. However, we consider that the market has very much under-appreciated Camelot, who is a very exciting new stallion for the future.

ER: I think Mastercraftsman (Ire) has been under-rated, though Alpha Centauri (Ire) showed us what he is capable of this season. Dawn Approach (Ire) may now be underestimated, looking at Kevin Prendergast’s exciting 2-year-old, Madhmoon (Ire). He was such a talented racehorse that I still believe he is capable of siring some good horses.

GH: Oasis Dream (GB), Holy Roman Emperor (Ire), Tamayuz (GB) and, from personal experience, Zoffany (Ire).

KR: Champs Elysees (GB) may now be aimed at the National Hunt market, but he’s still able to get some very good horses on the flat. He sired a Guineas and Cesarewitch winner this season.

LB: Zoffany had a flying start to his stallion career, siring Royal Ascot winners in his first crop. He now has bigger crops from better mares on the way and I think the best is yet to come. I’m a big fan of Dansili (GB) and I think Zoffany could be one of the leading sires in Europe in the next few years.

PD: We’ve been very luck with Footstepsinthesand (GB) over the years, the best of our buys probably being Larchmont Lad (Ire). He won a Group 3 for Hannon before being sold to Cheveley Park Stud, for whom he won a Group 2 this year. He always has lovely yearlings, which tend to be very athletic and racy.

SD: Under-rated is a very relative term, but if you look at a stallion’s covering fee and see that he’s producing winners at the highest level, there’s a few who stand out. Nathaniel (GB) stood for £20,000 in 2018 and he sired Enable–one of the best mares we’ve seen in Europe in a long time, plus she’s a stunning individual to boot.

Camelot has come through this year and I assume his 2018 fee of €30,000 will rise next season. Nicolas Clement’s 2-year-old filly, Wondermont (Ire), who won the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, was bought for just €60,000. Camelot’s success makes sense, given that he was a brilliant racehorse and beautiful individual.

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