The lure of valuable sale races helped Ireland's premier yearling auction put a couple of disappointing recent renewals behind itself with a hugely successful revamped Goffs Orby Million Sale Sept. 26-28.
It occurred despite the more entrenched positions of the two European bloodstock superpowers, Darley and Coolmore, in supporting progeny of their own stallions. A well-publicized apparent boycott by the Maktoum family of the progeny of Coolmore stallions seemed to have little adverse effect on the market.
Direct comparisons with previous years cannot be made because of the change in the Orby format, but the 99,531 euros ($120,035) average for 518 sold was a huge increase from 2004, when a much larger catalogue saw 806 lots change hands for a 40,226 euros ($48,513) average.
The sale gross was 51,557,000 euros ($62,178,337), up from 32,422,600 euros ($39,102,029) in 2004, with a 90.4% clearance rate, though some lots are likely to have been bought back to get qualified for the sale races, which offer 2.4 million euros in bonuses.
Just six lots made more than 300,000 euros in 2004--all bought by either John Ferguson of Darley or Coolmore--compared with 25 spread over 17 different buyers at the 2005 auction.
"The sale exceeded our wildest dreams," Goffs managing director Matt Mitchell said. "Vendors have been rewarded by coming to us and the sale races played a big part, exciting people who aren't normally into flat racing to take part."
Sheikh Hamdan, traditionally the most active member of the Maktoum family at Goffs and the top buyer this year, bought the only seven-figure lot when he went to 1.8 million euros to outgun Coolmore's John Magnier for a Kingmambo
--Karlavina colt consigned from Flash Conroy's Glenvale Stud.
There was significant American interest at the sale. An unidentified U.S. telephone bidder was the underbidder at 950,000 euros ($1,145,710) for a Galileo colt bought by Demi O'Byrne, while a 650,000-euros ($783,907) Danehill colt purchased by Richard Brown of Blandford Bloodstock was for Sobhy Sobol Zayat Stables.
At the one-day Goffs Sportsman's sale Sept. 29, 258 horses were catalogued, with 234 offered and 204 sold for 3,347,900 euros ($4,037,606), an average of 16,411 euros ($19,791).