The record price for a horse at the Arqana breeze-up sale was toppled at Saint-Cloud May 11 when a 2-year-old colt by 2009 European Horse of the Year Sea The Stars sold for €520,000 (US$675,196).
Trainer Marco Botti prevailed in a bidding duel with Nicolas de Watrigant, who was representing Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, and bloodstock agent Hugo Merry to secure the Irish-bred colt named Salamargo on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum.
The price for the Sea The Stars colt, offered in The Channel consignment of Alban Chevalier du Fau and Jamie Railton, shattered the previous sale record of €300,000 set in 2010 for a Shirocco colt out of Basse Besogne. The youngster was sold as a yearling last August to Agence FIPS for €200,000 (US$246,700).
The bay colt, bred by S.F. Bloodstock, is out of Navajo Moon, a multiple stakes winner by Danehill. Her only starter to date, 3-year-old Tribal Path, won a maiden race at Lingfield Park earlier this year.
Navajo Moon is a full sister to English group II winner Five Dynasties and to Roosevelt, who finished third in the 2003 Irish Derby (Ire-I). The family includes French group I winner and leading sire Poliglote.
Sea The Stars stands at the Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Ireland. His first foals are 2-year-olds this year.
The sale was held on the eve of France's first two classics of the year, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I, French Two Thousand Guineas) and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I, French One Thousand Guineas), at Longchamp, and posted very positive figures with a particularly dynamic start.
Overall, 92 horses sold through the ring and eight private sales led to a clearance rate of 87%. The average price was €66,772 (US$86,700), an increase of 18% on last year. Total sales reached €6,403,500 (US$8,314,614), on par with the 2012 sale despite of 35 fewer horses offered. The median price of €50,000 marked a 19% increase.
Seventeen horses sold for €100,000 (US$129,844) or more, compared with 11 at the 2012 sale.
De Watrigant was the sale's leading buyer with seven purchases for a total of €760,000 (US$986,820). Included in his cache of 2-year-olds was the sale's second-highest price: a Raven's Pass half brother to U.S. grade I winner Mast Track for €230,000 (US$298,643). Also offered by The Channel, he is named Redbrook.
The Channel consignment sold 11 horses for €1,372,000 (US$1,781,471).
"The demand was very sustained at the top end of the market and all the major players had traveled to Saint Cloud and got involved in some nice bidding wars," Arqana chairman Eric Hoyeau said. "The same applies to the middle market which is noted for its very European flavor.
"Added to this the reduced number of horses cataloged and the more rigorous selection were determining factors in the dynamism of the sale. The results of this major sale at the beginning of the year give us great confidence and optimism for the forthcoming yearling sales."