FROM LITTLE ACORNS...
Come Big Clues John Boyce looks at the trends from this Years’ Foal Sales
They say confidence is the most important ingredient in any market. Through 2020 as the bloodstock world got on with it trade in yearlings, confidence ebbed back to the marketplace, perhaps most evident at Tattersalls October yearling sale. And it seems it was enough to brighten the horizons of foal buyers, too.
At Tattersalls, Tattersalls Ireland, Goffs and Arqana, the combined average price for a foal was £36,746, down just 2.3% on the same sales a year earlier. Granted, 487 fewer foals came up for sale and there was a 303 shortfall in the number that changed hands. But a close examination of the combined sales’ deciles reveals that, unusually, the bottom 50% of the market showed small gains across the board. It was the top echelons that had shouldered the contractions, perhaps not helped by sellers of some nice foals choosing to wait for the yearling sales this autumn to cash in on their investments. The modest falls at the top end of the market can, of course, also be explained by the typical year on year ebb and flow of well-bred foals coming to market.
Stallions with a fee of £50k+
We haven’t seen a Galileo at the foal sales since 2018, but Europe’s other kingpin, Dubawi, has always had a trickle of weanlings come to auction. Invariably, the major end users sweep up these choicely bred foals, two of the three by Dubawi sold in 2020 going to Godolphin, who sourced its brilliant top-rated Champion Ghaiyyath at the Goffs November foal sale in 2015.
Predictably,Dubawi topped the group of stallions that stood at £50k-plus in 2019 with an average of £564k. Rather surprisingly, Juddmonte’s Frankel had as many as 11 foals sold in 2020 – by some way the most he’s ever had – and all but two of them brought enough money to cover their conception fee plus upkeep.
It was no surprise to see the Lope de Vega’s go so well after an excellent year, particularly with his four Group-winning two-year-olds featuring Aunt Pearl, Lucky Vega and Cadilllac. Moreover, the Ballylinch sire’s foals were produced off what now seems a really modest €80,000 fee, ensuring he had the best fee multiple of any stallion in the £50k-plus fee category.
Stallions with a fee Between £20k & £50k
The leader by fee multiple in the £20k-50k group was Coolmore’s Camelot, whose nine foals averaged £120k also the best of the group. Again there are plenty of reasons to source a good Camelot at the foal sales, the siblings Latrobe and Pink Dogwood, plus the smart Sir Erec having been weanling sale graduates. His four G1 winners in 2020, including WS Cox Plate hero Sir Dragonet and Irish Oaks winner Even So, didn’t hurt his cause either.
Wootton Bassett, now a stud companion of Camelot, has been given a commercial shot in the arm with his move to Coolmore, even if he didn’t need it. And just like his 2020 yearlings, his foals were in demand averaging £86k for four sold, three making enough to cover fee and upkeep.
The best freshman sire at the foal sales in 2020 was the 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior. Plenty came on the market, yet he still managed to post an average of nearly £86k – over three times his fee, well in advance of that of his archrival on the track, Roaring Lion. Saxon Warrior’s opening fee of €30,000 ensured plenty of profit with 80% of his 15 sold making money for their sellers. Also trading off a comparatively low fee was French ace Le Havre, all of whose foals listed as sold cleared their fee and upkeep of £10k.
Stallions with a fee between £10k & £20k
There are no prizes for guessing that Darley’s Night Of Thunder topped the group of stallions that stood in between £10k and £20k in 2019. The meteoric start at stud by the son of Dubawi has seen to it that his progeny are selling at a premium. His 16 foals sold in 2020 posted an excellent average of £73k off a fee of just £15,000. But even his fee multiple of 4.9 couldn’t quite match that of his former stud companion Farhh, who achieved an average of £53k – 5.3 times his fee – for his three foals.
Stallions with a fee up to £10k
It was another Darley stallion, Belardo, that topped the category of stallions that stood at up to £10k in 2019. The nine listed as sold averaged £53k from a fee of just €10,000, Believe it or not, the best racehorse Lope de Vega has produced so far stands at the same fee again in 2021, despite siring as many as four Group or Stakes winners from his first crop od two-year-olds in 2020.
The 2020 crop by Mehmas may have been his weakest so far, but such were the results from his first two-year-old crop that buyers were prepared to go after his 2020 foals. Thirteen of the 15 offered found buyers at an average price of £44k and they included eight that covered their costs. With an astonishing and record-breaking 56 winning youngsters from his first crop, it was a great year to be selling a Mehmas foal or yearling.