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Southern hemisphere buyers set to descend on Tattersalls

Australasians make the pilgrimage to Newmarket to source stock at July sale

Agents, breeders, owners and trainers will be clocking up the air miles this week as southern hemisphere buyers descend on the Tattersalls July Sale in Newmarket. The rich seam of international results that runs through the sale’s roll of honour provides a perfect illustration as to why the three-day event, which begins on Tuesday at 9.30am local time (6.30pm AEST), has garnered such a global following. 

The dams of recent Royal Ascot winners Fairy Godmother (Night Of Thunder) and Port Fairy (Australia) both changed hands at the July Sale, as did Bumbasina (Canford Cliffs), who went on to produce Northerly Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m) heroine Amelia’s Jewel (Siyouni). 

The nine-time winner, who graces the back of this year’s catalogue, is not the only success story instigated by the 75,000gns purchase, as Bumbasina’s two-year-old colt Bosustow (Blue Point) also ran third to Broadsiding (Too Darn Hot) in last month’s JJ Atkins (Gr 1, 1600m). 

Bumbasina was purchased by Astute Bloodstock’s Louis Le Metayer, who is among the Australia-based contingent on deck in Newmarket this week. “I love coming to Newmarket for the Tatts sales,” said Le Metayer, who grew up at Haras du Buff in Normandy. “I first visited with my dad when I was 14, and seeing Pivotal left a lasting impression on me. I feel fortunate to work in this incredible industry. If you love horse breeding and racing, Newmarket is a fantastic place to visit – it’s the mecca of thoroughbreds, after all. 

“It feels like the bloodstock world is getting smaller all the time. We are constantly seeking different bloodlines and form lines. We recently completed many matings for our clients in Australia, and the more I study pedigrees, the more I look for outcrosses.”

Amelia’s Jewel may be an Australian Group 1 winner but her pedigree is European through and through. She was bred when Bumbasina was sent to Siyouni at the Aga Khan’s French stallion operation at Haras de Bonneval. 

Expanding on the backstory of how he came to source Bumbasina, Le Metayer said: “Her owner-breeder, Peter Walsh of Amelia Park Stud in Western Australia, was my first client when I started Astute Bloodstock. I invited him on a tour to visit Chantilly and the Normandy studs one summer. He was very impressed with both Siyouni and Kingman and asked me to find a mare for each with the view of breeding them to southern hemisphere time. 

“Two weeks later, at the July Sale, we found Bound Copy for 45,000gns. Her first two foals grossed $980,000 as yearlings. We also found Bumbasina for 75,000gns, whose first foal [was] Amelia’s Jewel and her third foal, Bosustow, is Group 1-placed as a two-year-old this year. Bumbasina was a neat mare with lots of quality, a big action, and a very athletic body shape. She was also stakes-placed in Ireland and came from a strong female family.” 

Le Metayer also had an update on Bumbasina and her younger offspring, as he added: “She returned to France two years ago to visit Siyouni again. She has a weanling by Siyouni, who looks very impressive, and is back in foal to Siyouni. The Siyouni colt will be sold at Magic Millions in January next year through the Segenhoe draft. Look out.” 

Despite only a select number of purchases, Bumbasina is not the only big result Le Metayer has enjoyed out of Tattersalls. He also unearthed dual Australian Cup scorer Harlem (Champs Elysees) with Sackville Donald at a cost of 520,000gns in 2016, the Listed-winning Pilote D’Essai (Oasis Dream), a 230,000gns signing in 2015, and Coral Beach (Zoffany), an 85,000gns foal purchase in 2016 who subsequently won the Killavullan Stakes (Gr 3, 7f) for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore partners. 

Also hoping for a repeat of a past visit to Tattersalls is trainer Shaune Ritchie, who is making the 18,350km trip from his Cambridge base in search of another Mahrajaan (Kitten’s Joy). The blue-blooded Shadwell homebred was bought by Ritchie for 75,000gns at the Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale in 2022, and has gone on to win the New Zealand Cup (Gr 3, 3200m) and Auckland Cup (Gr 2, 3200m) for new connections. 

Ritchie is no stranger to British shores, having served part of his apprenticeship under the renowned John Dunlop in the days of the top-class filly Salsabil (Sadler’s Wells). 

“I worked in Arundel for John Dunlop when I was a kid and enjoyed that for two years, but only ever stayed in Newmarket overnight and had always wanted to come back,” he said.

“The main reason I came up for that [2022] sale was that we’ve had some pretty prolific horses for the carnivals, but that particular year we didn’t have a horse go to Melbourne in the spring and didn’t have a horse run at Riccarton in New Zealand Cup week, so I thought now’s my only chance to get up to Europe and perhaps buy an English stayer. 

“We thought the New Zealand environment – Mahrajaan gets his own half-acre paddock – might be able to readjust the mindset of one of the English stayers. We went up there looking for something that perhaps still had some top line to develop and a bit of maturing to do, but that had enough form to suggest it could stay and could target our Cups back at home. That New Zealand environment is particularly horse friendly and has really suited Mahrajaan, and with the spin off from that we’ve had some good interest, so we’re looking to come up and do it again.” 

Jason Smith of Cambridge Stud and Andrew Buick have provided assistance when it comes to analysing European form, while Ritchie also factors pedigree and physique into his purchasing decisions. 

“There are a lot of variables,” he said. “But when it comes to the animal itself, that’s why I’m coming up to the sale because if I buy one, I’ve got to deal with making sure I can get it to the races and have it right. There’s also a bit of romance in coming up and selecting the animal physically.”

Ritchie said the popularity of European imports made any Tattersalls recruit a potentially easier sell than a yearling purchase from closer to home. He also acknowledged that the success of the Chris Waller-Guy Mulcaster axis had paved the way for the increasing volume of northern hemisphere imports. 

“You can buy a horse in Europe with the hope of getting it to a Melbourne Cup, and that’s a big luxury,” he said. “I can buy a beautiful colt at Karaka for NZ$100,000 and it’ll take me six months to syndicate that yearling. Whereas if I buy a horse up here in Europe for twice the money, I find I can get that horse sold extremely quickly. And of course, 70 per cent of the prize-money in racing in New Zealand and Australia is in staying races, but 70 per cent of the horses we breed in New Zealand and Australia can’t stay, so you’re racing for the bulk of the prize-money against the smaller percentage of horses.”

He continued: “There’s no doubt that Chris and Guy have pioneered this whole situation. I was actually at John Dunlop’s with Guy and I’m very good friends with Chris as we started training at Rosehill together. They saw the angle in Europe and that these horses at a mile and a half plus are superior to what’s racing in Australia. We’re all riding off the back of their success, but with the angle of New Zealand having that uniqueness with our environment that means we can get them in the paddocks and maybe find that extra edge that can help keep them happy and performing at a high level.”

After withdrawals the catalogue contains around 670 lots, including a significant draft of well-bred fillies and mares offered by Godolphin. These include the Listed-placed Art Of Magic, a daughter of Invincible Spirit (Green Desert) from the family of Territories (Invincible Spirit) offered in foal to Blue Point (Lot 249) and Crystal Of Time (Dark Angel) (268), a half-sister to three-time Group 1 winner Nations Pride (Teofilo). 

Juddmonte will offer 12 well-credentialled racing and breeding prospects, including Embody (Acclamation) (555), a three-year-old sister to Breeders’ Cup Mile (Gr 1, 8f) hero Expert Eye, while seven lots are being sold by Shadwell. 

Tattersalls marketing director Jimmy George noted that the timing of this sale made it an easy sell to southern hemisphere breeders looking to add to their broodmare band. 

“The July Sale has always been very popular with buyers from Australia and New Zealand,” he said. “It fits very well with the southern hemisphere seasons, certainly for breeders. In terms of buying fillies off the track they can whisk them home straight away and they’re straight into the southern hemisphere breeding season. 

“As ever the consignments from the major owner breeders are a big draw; the Godolphin, Juddmonte and Shadwell drafts always attract plenty of interest and there are some very well-bred fillies in there.” 

He continued: “There’s always a lot of interest in the fillies in and out of training, but I think the catalogue this year has plenty for everyone. Barely a weekend goes by without another Group or Listed winner coming from one of our horses-in-training sales at Tattersalls, so buyers will have their eye on the horses-in-training as well as the fillies.” 

Among the runners with the most eye-catching form are: Davideo (Galileo) (157), a three-time winner and half-brother to Hong Kong celebrities Time Warp (Archipenko) and Glorious Forever (Archipenko) who has an official rating of 98; the well-bred Sea The Polaris (Sea The Stars) (564), a last-time-out winner at Gowran Park; Jubilee Walk (Study Of Man) (741), who is now rated 97 after he brought up a hat-trick with victory in a competitive five-furlong York handicap; and Swindon (Wootton Bassett) (829A), a progressive three-year-old who registered his second win on Saturday during the Coral-Eclipse meeting at Sandown

Ritchie has already compiled a shortlist ahead of beginning inspections on Tuesday, and said: “We’ve identified four or five that would profile similar to Mahrajaan, which is obviously a big attraction to us. Then we’ve got another five or six that if the others bring overs, or aren’t suitable physically, that we can turn to. I’m really keen to bring one home because of the success we’ve had with the last horse, although obviously we won’t be buying for the sake of it.” 

In keeping with his track record, Le Metayer said he would be considering racing prospects as well as those with breeding potential, provided the stock on offer meets his exacting standards. 

“I’m open-minded but aim to acquire top-quality horses,” he said. “I’m looking for mares with the potential to become excellent broodmares, as well as horses-in-training with the potential to win a Group 1 in Australia. I’m very, very selective and feel embarrassed if I sell a slow horse to someone. My philosophy is to only buy for our clients what I would like to own myself. We have many good horses in Australia now, so the discipline pays off in the long run.”

Le Metayer added that the opportunity to acquire not only top-class prospects, but outcross pedigrees as well, was also a priority. “I think it is very important, particularly in Australia, where many of our commercial stallions come from the same sire line,” he said. “If their sire isn’t from the Danehill line, their dams often are.”

Last year’s July Sale witnessed record turnover for the second successive year, with 574 lots changing hands for 16,986,000gns. The average price of 29,590gns was the second-highest in the sale’s history, while the median equaled the high mark of 15,000gns set in 2022. George said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the state of trade despite the correction taking place across the global bloodstock market. 

“It’s very hard to suggest sales at the moment will break previous records because there’s no doubt there are challenges out there, politically and economically, in the wider world,” he said. “I’d be cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a very solid sale, as befits the quality of the catalogue. Last year we had record turnover, record-equalling median and an average that was second only to 2022. It may be a tough ask to scale those heights, but I think it’ll be a very solid sale.” 

George said time would tell how many southern hemisphere buyers would be in attendance at Tattersalls, but added that the company’s online platform meant potential purchasers could easily participate without necessarily being present in Newmarket. 

“The advent of online bidding and the ease with which people can participate without having to be there in person makes it a different dynamic, but equally we know there’ll be a fair few over here,” he said. “It’s a time of year when Australians and New Zealanders like to get away from home for a bit and take in some of the great racing we have over here. There’s the July meeting as well as the July Sale, and I know some of them were over for Ascot as well, obviously with some success!” 

As George said, the sales are not the only draw in Newmarket this week, with high-quality racing taking place on the July course, most notably the July Cup (Gr 1, 6f) on Saturday, while studs will also open their doors to show off some blue-chip stallions. For some, there is other business to tend to as well. 

“I’m looking forward to inspecting a few local stallions that I haven’t seen before,” said Le Metayer. “I’m not sure if we will have time to go racing as my wife lands on Friday and we are heading to Oxford University, where she is presenting her work as a neuroscientist.” 

With his string starting to step up their work ahead of the spring carnivals, Ritchie will not be among those staying around for racing at Newmarket. 

However, he has turned his talent search into something of a world tour, having journeyed to Tattersalls via New York. 

“It’s always lovely to be out of the New Zealand winter and it’s great to be able to come up via somewhere like New York, which is a fantastic city, to take in the baseball and the Broadway shows,” he said. “The world is such a small place now. Even Mahrajaan shows you how small the racing world is. He was born in America, broken in in Dubai, raced in Britain, and had to go to Melbourne for quarantine before he arrived in New Zealand. He’ll be heading back to Melbourne in the spring, so he’s got more frequent flyer miles than me!”

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