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Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Havana Grey brother to Rumstar was continuing a theme when making 250,000gns (Picture Credit: Alisha Meeder)

James Thomas Reports From Wednesday’s Foal Session At Tattersalls

A higher calibre offering saw an uplift in trade at Tattersalls on Wednesday and there was a distinct sense of deja vu about day two of the December Foal Sale as the progeny of Havana Grey continued to hog the limelight.
The market was led by the colt out of Stellarta offered by Whitsbury Manor Stud. The youngster is a brother to Rumstar, one of 28 black type performers by Havana Grey having landed the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes.
Auctioneer Matt Hall introduced the youngster as “something a bit special” and agent Hamish Macauley signalled his agreement with an opening bid of 100,000gns.
Macauley had checked out by the business end of proceedings when Alex Elliott, standing at the back of the auditorium, bid 240,000gns. That looked like being enough until an online bidder nudged the price to 250,000gns. The identity of the buyer couldn’t be revealed as they signed under the imaginative pseudonym of Rumstar Bloodstock.
There was a neat bit of symmetry to the transaction as Whitsbury Manor also sold the Havana Grey half-brother to Dragon Symbol who fetched 250,000gns on day two last year. That colt was bought by leading pinhooker Philipp Stauffenberg who resold the youngster to Godolphin for 600,000gns at Book 1.
“Funnily enough we sold a Havana Grey colt for 250,000gns on the second day last year,” said Whitsbury Manor’s Ed Harper. “He went and made 600,000gns at Book 1 so hopefully history will repeat itself. We wanted this colt to be the star lot on this day and it’s turned out that way. You never know when you make the entry, though, and that feels like a long time ago now.”
Reflecting on yet another productive few days for Havana Grey, Harper said: “It feels like we’re all involved in something big but actually our industry is very small. I hadn’t realised how important it is to a country’s bloodstock industry to have a stallion on the rise, just to keep the interest up and to hold people at the sales.
“Those Havana Greys on the first day held the attention and kept the sale moving. Without that, it would’ve been tricky to keep a crowd here. That’s a big responsibility for a stallion. Luckily he doesn’t know that, he’s happily minding his own business at home.”
Haras de Meautry making moves
Pinhookers may have driven the bulk of transactions but Edouard de Rothschild can look forward to racing the Kingman colt out of German Group 3 winner Liberty London after Haras de Meautry’s Nick Bell struck the decisive bid of 200,000gns.
The colt, who was offered by Newsells Park Stud, was bred by Gestut Hof Ittlingen and hails from the family of the German farm’s famous colour bearer Lando. The Meautry team will be hoping to repeat the success they have had with €180,000 foal purchase Alcantor, a son of New Bay who won the Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon and finished runner-up to Sunway in the Group 1 Criterium International.
“He was bought by Edouard de Rothschild of Haras de Meautry so he’ll be kept to go into training,” said Bell. “Hopefully he’ll go to Andre Fabre. We always buy a couple of foals every year as we can compare them with what we have at home, and you probably get a bit more value buying  foals too.
“We did very well with a horse called Alcantor, who we bought a couple of years ago. This is a good-looking colt out of a very good racemare; she won from three to five and ran in good company all the time. That’s a big thing as she was obviously tough.
“The fact he’s a first foal probably worked in our favour too as there isn’t something going to come along and improve the immediate family for a pinhooker.”
Young Darley sires continue to run hot
The rise of Darley’s young gun sires Blue Point and Too Darn Hot, both of whom sired first-crop Group 1 winners, was one of the key themes of the Flat season. Their enhanced reputations were on show yesterday with the two stallions responsible for a cluster of lots towards the head of the market.
Leading the way was a well-related son of Too Darn Hot offered by New England Stud. The colt, bought by Grangemore Stud for 185,000gns, is out of Canonbury, a winning daughter of Oasis Dream and Ballymacoll Stud’s brilliant Islington.
There is plenty going on under the first dam as the colt’s two-year-old half-brother Tchaikovsky opened his account after the catalogue was released, while their Frankel half-sister Kensington doubled her tally of wins on her penultimate outing last month. The colt was offered as part of the complete dispersal of stock belonging to Lady Ogden.
“The Ogdens have enjoyed their racing for so many years and it was nice to end up with a really lovely one by Too Darn Hot,” said Peter Stanley of New England Stud.
“There’d just been a couple of updates in the pedigree and it’s the most wonderful family. Too Darn Hot is starting to look very exciting and I can only think that he’ll be even better next year with his first three-year-olds.
“This colt had a bit of size and a lot of quality, he was an obvious one to make good money. We’re selling the mother next week [lot 1,943] so hopefully that’ll help her!”
Too Darn Hot has sired 24 European winners in his first crop, led by the Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Fallen Angel and the May Hill Stakes scorer Darnation. The champion two-year-old son of Dubawi will stand for £65,000 at Dalham Hall Stud in 2024.
Stanley also shared a frank assessment of the market, saying: “It’s frighteningly polarised. That’s fine but the trouble is it’s going to knock a lot of small breeders out of the game. I’m really sad about it because it’s so important, and it’s part of the fun of racing, that there’s people playing at every level. What we saw [on Monday] was a bloodbath for people lower down the scale. That’s really sad.
“Small breeders don’t mind losing a bit of money but if you only get a thousand quid or no bid it’s humiliating and it’s not nice. You’ve got to have a chance and I think we saw something very frightening yesterday.”
Guy O’Callaghan’s Grangemore Stud also signed for the Blue Point colt out of Glowing Star who fetched 170,000gns. The sibling to four winners, including the Listed-placed King Of Stars, was consigned by Michael Gaffney’s Hawes Stud. The farm also offered the next lot into the ring, a daughter of Space Blues who brought 75,000gns from Julie Wood, signing as Woodstock.
“It’s brilliant with the two horses, it’s absolutely fantastic,” said an emotional Gaffney. “We sold two more earlier today and that was a bit bumpier but these two make up for that. Glowing Star is from a very,very fast family so we went to Blue Point, who we thought was a rocket. We loved him when we saw him. We put two rockets together and we got a superstar of a horse so we’re thrilled! This is one of the better prices that my wife [Anne] and I have sold under the Hawes Stud banner.”
That six-figure transaction continued a big week for Blue Point as the Kildangan Stud resident reached a half century of first-crop winners when the appropriately named Word’s Out struck at Deauville on Tuesday.
Blue Point also supplied the McCracken Farms-consigned filly out Roseau City who was signed for by Goodwill Bloodstock at 165,000gns. The dam, a winning daughter of Cityscape, was sourced for just 4,000gns. Craig McCracken said: “The filly is by the sire of the moment in Blue Point. She was very well received, a lovely walker, great to work with and just wanted to please. We’re very happy.
“We bought the mare, Roseau City, here at the February Sales, she came from David Elsworth’s. Richard Kent knows the family very well and he said he’d missed her! He told us we had a lovely filly and it’s worked out very well for us. She’s back in-foal to Sioux Nation.”
Blue Point, who will stand for an increased fee of €60,000 in 2024, has fielded two top-flight winners in his first crop with the popular Big Evs landing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and Rosallion striking in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
Later in the session McCracken Farms sold a Sioux Nation colt to Tally-Ho Stud for 155,000gns. The half-brother to the Grade 3-placed Panic Alarm is out of an even more shrewdly bought mare as Thraya Queen, a daughter of Shamardal from the extended family of Polar Falcon, cost Cecil McCracken a mere 1,700gns in February 2016.
Ashbrooke Stud prove it can be done
Turning a profit isn’t easy when you’re operating on a budget but Bradley Wood and Alice O’Brien of Ashbrooke Stud showed it can be done when their Havana Grey colt out of Cherika sold to Tally-Ho Stud for 92,000gns early in the session.
The dam was bought for just €4,000 at Goffs in November 2019 and she visited Havana Grey when his fee was only £6,000. The Ashbrooke team endured a rocky start to the sale when their first two lots on Tuesday were led out unsold but the Havana Grey colt brought about a welcome change in fortunes.
“Trade was tough yesterday but we were positive enough to think that today might be totally different, which it has been so far,” said Wood. “The colt has been extremely busy since he arrived on site, we’ve struggled to get him in the stable he’s been so busy showing. He had seven vettings and all the right people were on him so we were fairly confident coming up to the ring, but you don’t know what kind of level you’re going to be at until the bidding gets underway.
“That price definitely exceeded expectations, though. It just goes to show what an unbelievable stallion Havana Grey is and the desire there is for his stock. Ed and the team at Whitsbury have done an unbelievable job with him.”
The couple moved into Ashbrooke Stud in County Durham in March 2020 and have spent the past few sales seasons focussing on yearlings before branching out into the foal market this year.
“We’re delighted and it’s great for a young stud to get a touch like that,” said Wood. “It’s wonderful for a foal out of a cheaply bought mare to make that amount. It’s great for small breeders to see that it can be done. If you’ve got the right stock then it’ll always sell well.”
When asked what prompted the decision to send Cherika to Whitsbury Manor when Havana Grey was still unproven, Wood said: “Speed. We always say we have to give the market what it wants and, at the minute, that’s good early, fast two-year-olds. We thought Havana Grey would be capable of getting those and he has. The mare is in foal to Showcasing and I’m already thinking about keeping the foal until it’s a yearling because then we’ll have the Havana Grey to run for us.”
Although there was still some selectivity on show, the market looked much healthier than it did on day one. The session saw 250 foals offered and 202 found a buyer for a clearance rate of 81 per cent.In turn, those transactions generated 8,307,450gns in turnover, down 12 per cent on last year, albeit from an offering that was 24 lots (nine per cent) smaller. The average of 41,125gns was down by three per cent on the corresponding session in 2022, while the median was also back by three points at 31,000gns.
The December Foal Sale continues on Friday, with the headline session kicking off at 10am.