Intense sales week & a happy SA Saturday – Turf Talk: 5 November 2018
ON Tuesday morning last week in Newmarket, some people were staggering around in the rain like zombies. The sheer impact of being out in cold and near freezing wind on Sunday and especially Monday while marching all over the sale ground for all the hours of daylight had taken its toll. Both evenings were spent in a rented house going through endless lists with the heat full on, until fatigue took over completely.
I was pleased and relieved, in a macabre sort of way, that my substantially younger companions were just as wiped out. The key thing at the Horses in Training Sales is to try to protect yourself from the 30 international types of ‘flu imported and circulated by coughing and sneezing people from all over the globe. Not all of them put their hands across their mouths at sudden moments of expulsion of air and other particles. Regular paracetamol is part of the daily diet. Selling days were long – starting at 0930 and powering through until well after 10pm on two of the four days. You finish when you finish – maybe repairing to the Green Room or a town restaurant at 8 if there is nothing left on your lists – maybe seeing it out until the bitter end if you have a late seller in your sights. The auctioneers and rostrum staff also fray at the edges, having been at it nearly 13 hours on and off.
With the clocks having gone back to Greenwich Mean Time, darkness falls early. That strange throng of people outside the ring pulling the horses out of the parade ring into what in any other business would be a hard hat and body protector area (but isn’t, so keep your wits about you) plus the crowd milling around near the massive entrance regularly translates to a feeding frenzy as buying agents at all levels follow this or that horse into the brilliantly lit, relatively warm ring. (Sorry. Very long sentence).
Although the top price record was broken (a million guineas being achieved for a mare in training – but actually to go to stud for Newsells Park = Maine Chance’s sister stud) and it was extremely difficult to “get the one you want”, there were the usual holes in the sale. Many consigners found it hard but it was to the glory of all concerned that the clearance rate was massive – over 90% – reconfirming the domestic and global demand for racehorses from the UK and Ireland, and some from France and Germany.
Sales have a rhythm going through the week with Sunday the biggest viewing day (by when everything is “in” for Monday and mostly for Tuesday) then all those attending and their assistants and spotters zig-zagging around the 44 acres, getting back to the ring for relevant selling from Monday 0930 onwards.
As usual, Monday took time to get going resulting in a modest day-median of 10,000 guineas. Of course the average at this sort of sale is 2/3 times the median, but you can see the increase in intensity by the Tuesday median of 17,500 guineas and the Wednesday figure of 20,000.
Many agents for Australians and for UK and Irish jumping trainers had not “got bought” on Monday and Tuesday – hence the Wednesday frenzy. Not to mention the phenomenal but well established demand for the Juddmonte draft and (other) Saudis paying the equivalent of 6/7/8 million rand for 4 year old well performed geldings to run 2400 metres in the King’s Cup back home.
Buying for our client Dahab Racing to run in the UK, I and they had worked the field down to one or two candidates on the Monday when we were a teeth-gnashing under-bidder but probably rightly so. Why? Because I and fortunately our client were keen on a bonny 2 year old selling very late on Tuesday.
Trained in France, he had probably been run once or twice more than might have been the case if those owners were not committed to offering all their stock at 2. A winner and French provincial Listed 4th, his Timeform 87 in easy French ground bodes well – especially once he has had a chance to unwind and fill his frame for which purpose he immediately travelled to our spelling/pre-training facility for a couple of months stay.
We got him for 48,000 guineas amidst rattling competition only half a dozen lots off the end of the evening session, just in time to keep our table at the the excellent Montaz at the top of the town. Having valued our new boy at 50-60,000 with a budget of 50, all concerned were pleased. Had he sold on the Wednesday, it would have taken 60+.
His knowledgeable owners who live overseas have had a good time with the yearling that we bought in 2017 Book 2, a big colt by Dark Angel but buyable at similar money to the above because he looked more like his Red Ransom/Roberto mother’s line.
Appearing in September, trained by Luca Cumani who retired today after 43 years with his last Group 1 winner, the colt – named Faro Angel – put in an eye catching performance at Ascot before winning twice, all three races being Novices against winners not maidens. He will either be sold in response to many offers at 8-10 times his yearling price or be an exciting horse for next year.
During the balance of last week’s sale we bought our customary team for Central Asia – one 7,000 guineas (roughly R140,000) 2 year old filly by Showcasing being really well made and balanced and as good as many for 2-3 times that price in my ‘umble opinion. She, too, can have time off to strengthen and develop. About 4 months off.
By Saturday, back at base, my head somewhat cleared by the dogs towing me for a walk on the towpath, the rest of the world re-materialised. Pleasantly so with racing at Turffontein highlighted by our Alado Project product Flying Winger making up for a desperately unlucky 2nd with a good win on the big charity day.
Seeing the race is one thing, but checking the details with Racing Form suspended, the erstwhile excellent Formgrids in a state of disarray and the usually prompt Racing Guru not managing the video of the last at Turffontein on Twitter, we relied on Attheraces for the full service.
That good news was complemented by more. A mare of ours should have travelled to Gauteng earlier than she did, but arrived at Heversham Park from the Western Cape for her tryst with the seriously good (and busy) Wings of Desire. She went into season walking off the float. A mare due to be covered on Saturday wouldn’t stand so ours experienced a special, almost immediate welcome to her new home. And at altitude too. It’s all enough to make your head spin. – tt.