The market was significantly up at the 2003 Tattersalls Houghton Sale at Newmarket, England, with the average advancing by 17% to 266,727 guineas and the median by 25% to 200,000 guineas, both new records for the premier yearling auction in Europe.
Last year's average was 227,580 guineas and the median was 160,000 guineas.
The final of the two evening sessions on Oct. 2 saw the excellent trade of the first one continue almost to the end. The final lot of the night, expected to produce fireworks, was more a damp squib, failing to sell.
The evening's business was not quite as runaway, with the session median sticking at 160,000 guineas, though the average advanced by 18% to 264,087 guineas as 57 sold for 15,053,000 guineas, a rise of 8%. Last year's second night average was 224,725 guineas from 62 sold for a total of 13,933,000 guineas.
Gainsborough Stud Management, which had been quiet on Wednesday in the absence of its owner, Maktoum Al Maktoum, was much more active.
Maktoum Al Maktoum was at the sale Thursday, though he left the bidding to others. Gainsborough may have only bought three its own name during the evening – notably Lot 137 for 600,000 guineas. The Darshaan colt, whose full sister is Irish listed winner Ebaziya, herself the dam of five winners, three at the gr. I level. But British agent Charlie Gordon Watson snapped up two of the session's highlights for the stud as well.
He bought the only Dubai Millennium yearling (Lot 114) offered for 1,200,000 guineas. The filly is a half-sister to gr. I-winning Passinetti out of Cloelia, a half-sister to Bosra Sham's dam.
Gordon Watson was also the successful bidder at 800,000 guineas for Lot 102, the full brother to Grandera, on behalf of Gainsborough.
Coolmore Stud boss John Magnier, the other dominant force besides the Maktoum brothers, was responsible for the session's other two seven-figure buys.
He paid the top price of the entire sale, 1,250,000 guineas, for the Giant's Causeway filly (Lot 115), property of a partnership and consigned from Meon Valley Stud. The filly is a granddaughter of the vendor's foundation mare Reprocolor.
Magnier went to 1,200,000 guineas for the Sadler's Wells colt (Lot 132) consigned from Timmy Hyde's Camas Park Stud. He is closely related to gr. II winner Fairy Queen.
Over the full sale, 165 were catalogued, with 139 offered and 110 selling for 29,340,000 guineas, a jump of 4% in total sale revenue. The 2002 totals were 193 catalogued, 164 offered and 124 selling for 28,220,000 guineas.
Tattersalls was happy, chairman Edmond Mahony declaring "Small can sometimes be beautiful. In an ideal world, we would have preferred to have catalogued closer to 200 yearlings for this week, but the smallest Houghton catalogue ever has broken records for average price and median, and even managed to exceed last year's turnover which was in excess of 28,000,000 guineas.
"Year after year the vendors bring the cream of Europe's yearling crop to the Houghton, and from the sales company perspective there is nothing better than to see them rewarded handsomely.
"The truly remarkable statistic from this year's Houghton has been the huge rise in the median which has broken the 200,000 guineas barrier for the first time, and graphically illustrated the quality of the yearlings offered over the last two days.
"In total 58 lots sold for 200,000 guineas or more, which, combined with more seven-figure transactions than ever before, has contributed to a memorable sale."