But the market held up remarkably well following this autumn's yearling sales, prompting Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony to comment, "There was a measure of uncertainty coming into the December Foal Sale. But we had a successful yearling sale on Monday and the foal trade has been robust throughout the four days.
"As with so many sales this year, we felt that the spectacular levels of 2003 would be very difficult to match, and in that context we could not be disappointed after returning figures second only to last year's foal sale.
"From the outset vendors have reported no shortage of interest from buyers at all levels of the market and this is borne out by a clearance rate which compares favorably with last year, and a record number of six-figure transactions. In addition the number of foals selling for 50,000gns or more has only been bettered once."
The December breeding stock sale begins on Monday morning. Mahony added, "Looking ahead to next week, we have a good solid catalogue which has already engendered considerable interest from throughout the world.
"Unlike last year we do not have any high-profile dispersals, but there is strength in depth which has always been the crucial ingredient for a successful breeding-stock sale."
A pair of Danehills led the way at yesterday's final session with a 180,000gns colt out of Band Of Angels (Ire) (Alzao) bought by Demi O'Byrne from the Churchtown House Stud draft.
A Danehill three-parts sister to July Cup (gr. I) winner Owington (GB) (Green Desert) was bought for 165,000gns for Barbara Facchino's Barouche Stud by the farm's manager Rory Matthews as a racing prospect. COMPARATIVE FIGURES Saturday
2003/271/214/173/6,434,200/37,191/23,000 Total Foal Sale