The ARQANA breeze up sale posted record figures for the third year running as 86 horses grossed €8,203,000 (+22.34%), setting an average price of €93,216, up 20.95%. The clearance rate was the only indicator to show a slight decrease, yet still reached a highly satisfactory 73.95%.
The leading purchaser of the day with 8 lots bought for a total €2,340,000 was Sheikh Joaan’s Al Shaqab Racing, bidding via Nicolas de Watrigant of Mandore International. The best was saved for late as the sale-topping juvenile was lot 132, a colt by Oasis Dream out of the Kingmambo mare Valle Des Reves, a half-sister to the blue-hen Verveine, dam of Gr.1 winners Volga and Vallee Enchantee. “He was very much the horse of the sale,” commented Nicolas de Watrigant after signing the docket and fighting off the challenges of David Redvers and John Lloyd. “His pedigree is obvious and we were expecting a good breeze from him, which is exactly what he did. This is a lot of money but he’s got all the attributes to make a stallion one day.” The agent later confirmed that the colt would be trained in Chantilly by Francis-Henri Graffard. Brendan Holland of Grove Stud, who bought the colt for $150,000 as a yearling, was emotional when stating, “Hopefully he is what we think he is. He’s got all the attributes, the pedigree, the conformation, and above all he’s got heart.”
A few minutes earlier, Al Shaqab got the last word on lot 129 at €340,000. Also offered by Grove Stud, this filly is from the first crop of Coolmore’s Zoffany and closely related to the Group 1 winning juvenile and 1000 Guineas third Tiggy Wiggy. Stephen Hillen was the underbidder. Watrigant also signed for a pair of €300,000 colts, both from The Channel Consignment. First through the ring was lot 79, a colt by Invincible Spirit about which the agent commented: “His breeze wasn’t the most impressive and he looked very green, which reminded me of Karar. Like him, he will go into training with Francis-Henri Graffard.” Karar, another son of Invincible Spirit, was bought by Mandore for €200,000 at last year’s breeze up sale and runs in Sunday’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains. Nicolas de Watrigant shelled out the same amount for lot 98, a grey son of Siyouni. “He is a very late foal,” said the agent on the colt who will effectively turn two in 5 days. “The last 100 meters of his breeze were truly outstanding. We didn’t expect to have to pay so much for him but having been underbidder on the High Chaparral, we knew that we would have to up our game.” The price tag represented a whopping return for Alban Chevalier du Fau and Jamie Railton’s The Channel Consignment, who paid €48,000 for the colt at Arqana’s October Yearling Sale.
Watrigant forked out €260,000 for lot 32, this time a filly by France’s champion first season sire of 2014, and out of the Night Shift mare Coastline, who has already produced the Prix du Jockey Club place-getter Pain Perdu. “We really wanted a filly by Siyouni and she was our pick,” commented the agent. “It was her conformation that convinced us, and she also has a solid page which is important to us breeders. She will go into training with André Fabre.” This was also a solid pinhooking result for Jim McCartan of Gaybrook Lodge Stud, who snapped up the filly for €42,000 at Arqana’s October Yearling Sale.
Another lot to fetch the same price was lot 79, a nearly black colt by reverse shuttler Lonhro, who only cost $17,000 as a yearling. The juvenile was consigned by Brown Island Stables, from which Mandore bought subsequent Gr.1 winner Mshawish at this same venue back in 2012. He will be another to join the Chantilly yard of Francis Graffard.
Brisk trade was the order of the day from the outset as the second lot in the ring was knocked down for €320,000 to Robert Nataf of Horse France on behalf of Coolmore. Alain Jathière and Michel Zerolo were the underbidders. The colt from the first crop of Coolmore resident Canford Cliffs is the first foal out of the winning Montjeu mare Wonderous Light, from the family of Irish 1000 Guineas runner-up Ice Queen and champion miler Last Tycoon. “He did a very good breeze and Coolmore are keen to support the sire, who is having a very good start to his stud career”, commented Nataf. Top-class miler Canford Cliffs celebrated his first winners in the run-up to the sale and has been the subject of some very upbeat reports from trainers.
Stephen Hillen, who famously bought subsequent Classic and dual Gr.1 winner The Grey Gatsby at this session two years ago, ended this year’s sale as the second leading buyer, signing for 9 lots for €1,146,000. His dearest purchase at €310,000 was lot 37, the only colt by the late High Chaparral in the catalogue. The Gaybrook Lodge Stud offering is out of the Listed-placed Crystany, herself a daughter of the Gr.1 Fillies Mile heroine and Classic performer Crystal Music. “The consigner [Jim McCartan] does a very good job and I like to buy from him. He brings his horses nice and relaxed”, said Hillen after fighting off determined challenges from Jake Warren and Michel Zerolo. “This colt is one of the horses I came here to try to buy, and he is for the same owner as The Grey Gatsby [Frank Gillespie]. He did a great breeze, and to be able to gallop so well when he is bred to be a mile-and-a-half horse means that he could be anything. You won’t see him on a racetrack until a good few months.” Hillen also secured lot 29, a filly by Raven’s Pass from the family of the Gr.1 winners Fragrant Mix and Alpine Rose for €185,000, and lot 25, a colt by Siyouni for €175,000, on behalf of Matt and Lauren Morgan.
Reflecting on the day’s trade, ARQANA President Eric Hoyeau stated: “We are obviously thrilled with another outstanding renewal of this sale. The catalogue has improved dramatically over the last decade as a result of the confidence that we have built with vendors. They are assured to find the right buyers for quality horses, and the reverse is true with buyers – it is a virtuous circle that has really brought this sale forward. We have a very international clientele and most horses are going to be trained in Europe, including a good number in France. I would like to thank all the vendors, who work very hard selecting and prepping these horses, as well as the team at Saint-Cloud racecourse who have produced a top class track for the breezes. It is an essential element to showcase the juveniles in the best conditions.”
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