Now Europe sees a brutal downturn – Turf Talk: 26 November 2018

THE Awtaads sold very well - this late foaled colt made €58,000.

THE Awtaads sold very well – this late foaled colt made €58,000.

MONEY doesn’t always make money.

In 2009, John Ferguson, then Chief Advisor to Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley/Godolphin operation, paid US$500,000 for a Dixie Union yearling daughter of a mare by Kris S out of a Devil’s Bag mare.

Northern Dancer via Dixieland Band over Roberto over Halo. Nicks are not this column’s thing, but these are beautiful names and the dam was a Grade 3 winning dam of a big splodge of black type. Half a million wasn’t a King’s Ransom by the buyer’s standards, but a hefty sum of money nonetheless.

Named DIXIELAND KISS by her buyers, the filly joined the large numbers which in those days did not make it to the racecourse in Royal Blue and was sold for 33,000 guineas less than two years later at Tattersall’s July Sales. That was a good buy – as have many such cast offs been.

DIXIELAND KISS produced the Gr2&3 winning, Gr 1,2,3 placed KODIAC filly BESHARAH. Her foal by low cost CASAMENTO brought 110,000 guineas from Shadwell, bought as a foal to race and going on to win four times and place twenty-one.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the theatre, so to speak. She went to GALILEO twice. I am not sure where the yearling filly is, but the colt foal was actually offered at Goffs Foal Sale last week. Along with three other GALILEO foals. DIXIELAND KISS’s young fellow brought €170,000.

Galileo 3 parts sister to an Epsom Derby Winner.

Galileo 3 parts sister to an Epsom Derby Winner.

Another way of saying that is… he was allowed to go through for a fraction of the notional (if a foal share) or actual (if not) service fee. A lot or two later, the GALILEO sired three–parts sister to the Epsom Derby Winner HARZAND made €300,000 which is also not a lot by any number of measures. That filly is out of the Coolmore/Mayfair purchase – now 16 years old – HAZARIYA who herself was withdrawn from the Goffs Mare Sale as reported last week.

The lower end of the foal sale was devastatingly awful. The first day of the Breeding Stock sale saw a drop of no less than 47% in average year on year (and 54% drop in turnover) admittedly “helped” by the withdrawal of all of the likely top lots. More meaningfully, the median dropped by 26%. Yikes!

Much of the first day was like the second day usually is. Don’t ask about the actual second day. I wouldn’t know. I was at home hiding under the duvet.

Incidentally, Frankel-followers of South Africa, there were three Frankel foals in the sale. Two were withdrawn. The other – a colt in the thick of the third (and better) day, half brother to three big black typers – made €33,000 compared to a 2019 service fee of £175,000 (approximately €200,000). Double Yikes!

“Bound to be one or two bad ones”, you might say. Not one or two. As this column has mentioned while hoping against hope that FRANKEL becomes the stallion that we all wish, he has served some of the best mares in all the world thus creating magical beasts some of which have performed brilliantly. But peeping through fingers, you can see those that have gone through rings cheaply as unraced or lowly performed 3 year olds. And last week we saw this brand new foal, only one owner, full service history, make – and be allowed to make – next to nothing.

“Send the Best to the Best and Hope for the Best” has always sounded daft to me. One would wish that the thought processes involved in a mating would rely on something other than a version of random selection.

Especially if involving “the Best”. By now, major breeders will surely have learned what to send.

If you read last week’s column you know that we were anticipating CLOTH OF CLOUD in foal to GALILEO being allowed to go through the ring, as opposed to withdrawn like the other Mayfair-involved mares. I suggested that CLOTH OF CLOUD’s treatment might be different because of the structure of her ownership.

Half right. But wrong. Half right because at a time when she ought to have been available to inspect, her (excellent) consignment company still thought she was on her way and was being treated differently to some others with Mayfair connections long since withdrawn.

A discreet phone call by my friend to a friend was made. “CLOTH OF CLOUD not coming” was the call.

Someone had put his foot down.

The unraced, beautifully related FRANKEL mare mentioned here last week as being covered by a good but lesser sire made €88,000, fair enough.

In a buoyant market she would have made 6-figures. But – then again – it was her FRANKEL full brother (foal) that only made €33,000.

Dark Angel foal bought for €250,000 to go to Japan.

Dark Angel foal bought for €250,000 to go to Japan.

With runs of foals and mares during the week going through unsold, or as good as, one after the other, it Allan Bloodlineswas impossible not to reflect on 2018 in South Africa with so much money sucked out of the yearling market leaving vendors at the mid- and lower ranges struggling.

The problem in Ireland last week was over-production writ large. But there and in the UK, production could be cut back substantially without significantly affecting the supply of racehorses to fill 7-days-a-week fields. Cutting back to a point is not a threat to the viability of the racing equation. Since so many of the current production is not wanted, the removal of a chunk would serve to match demand and stabilise but not give major rise to prices.

In South Africa, the threat to the viability of racing (due to smaller fields etc) is often stated by operator/betting interests. If they are right, then perhaps we – with or without exports but let’s say “with” because failure this time round would shatter confidence in governance and influence even more than now – might be at the beginning of an upward curve. Cut back far enough – and it is happening significantly outside the wealthiest few – and the mid range end users will not get them cheaply any more.

With such a prospect, the sales companies will be telling us how they will be marketing and developing the core sales activity in the coming years. Right? – tt.