Saturday 1 November 2014

Bloodstock Prices on the Flat Still Climbing: Ordinary Owners Have to Work Harder!

Despite the real economies around the globe still being in post-recessionary deficit reduction modes, there is little evidence of that in the rarefied world of global bloodstock, particularly on the Flat but increasingly in NH as well. Regular readers of the blog will know that several of us connected to Owners for Owners have been trawling through the sales catalogues over the autumn, trying to find a well-bred and racy filly. Indeed, Tim Dykes and I have probably looked at 500 fillies ….. and amazingly haven’t bought one, for the simple reason that the well-bred ones didn’t impress as racehorses but the ones that did were not bred in the purple, or at least within our budget. Reluctantly we’ve come to the conclusion that to find both criteria fully met we would have at least to double our budget, to over £150,000. So we have postponed this hunt until there is a softening of the market.

For a graphic illustration of this, here is a summary of the average and median prices from the Goffs’ Orby and Tattersalls’ Book 1 sales:

Sale Year Average Median
Tattersalls’ Book 1> 2014 235,935 gns 150,000 gns
2013 207,501 gns 130,000 gns
2012 162,825 gns 100,000 gns
Goffs’ Orby 2014> €109,234 €70,000
2013 €101,571 €57,500
2012 €90,331 €58,000

As you can see, yearling prices have basically gone up by 50% during the time that Owners for Owners has been in existence. We surveyed our owners recently and there is no desire whatsoever to chase these sorts of prices. So the only way forward has been to work harder at the various sales, scrutinise more horses using the skills of trainers and agents, and on occasions take a bit of a risk in the purchase itself.

Our latest yearling purchase illustrates our approach. We swerved both Goffs and Tattersalls and went back to the Arqana Deauville sale on 20th October. This is the select day of that particular sale, and where we bought our 90+ rated horses, Lord Ben Stack and Jolievitesse, last year. Hopefully lightning struck again with the purchase of a beautiful Medicean yearling colt for the hammer price of €40,000 (£31,431). All the details and a video are on And there will be further information about the partnership on the web site shortly. Karl and Elaine Burke bought him for us and both felt that if he had gone through Tattersalls’ Book 1 he could well have been double or even treble that. Indeed, when I checked, the average for a Medicean at that sale was £171k, and even in Book 2 it was £47k. Unfortunately for them the vendors, Haras de Bourgeauville, were unlucky because the colt developed an abscess on his foot shortly before the sale and they ran out of time in which to treat it properly. We took advice from Lars Kelp (who, as well as being a former trainer in Scandinavia, is a hoof expert) who felt that it should be relatively straightforward to treat, and it certainly won’t stop the horse being broken at Spigot Lodge. As a late April foal, we will need to be patient and give him all the time he needs to develop.

All the breeding of our horse shows real quality. Medicean was owned by Chieveley Park Stud and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, while the dam, Bellona, was owned by US owner / breeder George Strawbridge, and trained by Freddy Head. Medicean didn’t race at 2yo, but improved steadily from 3 to 4, winning the Celebration Mile, Lockinge, Queen Anne and Eclipse over 1m to 1m 2f. Notably game, he raced 12 times and was in the money on ten occasions. These qualities have been passed on to his progeny, of whom more than 10 have been Gr.1 winners, mostly over similar distances, including Neatico, Bayrir (Secretariat Stakes in Arlington), Capponi, Siyouma (Sun Chariot), Al Shemali, Almenta, Nannina (dual winner at Royal Ascot, Coronation Stakes and Windsor Forest), and then the speedier Dutch Art who was unbeaten as a 2yo, winning the Norfolk at Royal Ascot, the Prix Morny and the Middle Park.

On the dam side, Bellona won a Listed race and was placed in Gr.3s. Her winning daughter, Es Que, produced Dominant, who was sold by Highclere for over £1m to Hong Kong and went on to win the Gr.1 Hong Kong Vase, and Es Que Love, who is still in training with Clive Cox and won the Lennox at Glorious Goodwood this year. It really is a great dam line with black type all over the page, with one of the more recent ones, We Are, winning the 1m 2f Gr.1 Prix de l’Opera for fillies and mares on this year’s Arc day.

Sixth shares are available in this cracking colt, and if you want to view him at Spigot Lodge over the autumn, just let me know. 50% of the horse has already been taken!

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