St. Leger Sale Ends With Declines

First European yearling sale has a 10% decline in average and 11% drop in median.

Doncaster's St. Leger sale — the first British or Irish yearling auction of 2008 — failed to match its 2007 figures when ending Aug. 28 in England. The average of £33,649 (approximately $61,725) was down 10%, the median of £26,000 ($47,694) fell by 11%. The £13,493,500 ($24,752,207) turnover for the 401 horses that sold dropped by 14.4%.

It was the first time in 10 years that the St. Leger sale had not shown an advance on the previous year's figures.

"The St. Leger yearling sale is unique in the respect that it is the only European yearling sale to have grown every year for the last 10 years,” said Doncaster Bloodstock Sales managing director Henry Beeby. “To continue that trend would have been difficult in any year, but against the background of such gloomy economic forecasts it was particularly challenging.

"The general consensus was that we have returned a solid trade that was far better than most thought coming into the week and there has been real competition for the better lots. However, the polarization we saw last autumn was confirmed, and that has been illustrated by the drop in our figures although we would still submit that a clearance rate of 84% is very good. But we are far from despondent as the results are on a par with 2006, and a five-year trend shows an incredible 75% rise in average, demonstrating that we have developed the sale in to a serious sale of quality in a relatively short space of time."

Beeby added: "Our feedback has been that it was hard to buy from the purchasers and that vendors were very busy so we have to face the fact that the economy has played its part, but I would repeat our plea from earlier this month that we must remain positive as to give in to the prophets of doom will only exacerbate any problems the industry may face. 

"The bloodstock business thrives on confidence, and our hope is that we do not allow modest downturns to turn in to talk of much worse. We have survived economic dips before and will again but it makes such a difference if a realistically positive attitude is adopted.

"It will, of course, be fascinating to see how the other British and Irish yearling sales perform as the season progresses, and it may be that we are able to look back on these three days with a good degree of satisfaction."

A minute's silence preceded Thursday's sale following the death in a car crash of bloodstock agent Tim Corby. There were no six-figure lots at the final session.

An Alhaarth half-brother to smart dual-purpose performer Blythe Knight topped the day when selling for £95,000 ($174,266) to agent Cormac McCormack, acting for a client of trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam. Offered from Ger Hourigan's Whitehall Stud, the colt had cost 30,000 guineas as a foal.


Aug. 28 (British pounds)
YR      CAT     OFF     SOLD    AGG             AV      MED
2008    160     150     127     3,637,000       28,637  25,000
2007    150     137     119     4,203,675       35,325  26,250

Total sale (British pounds)
YR      CAT     OFF     SOLD    AGG             AV      MED
2008    500     474     401     13,493,500      33,649  26,000
2007    500     467     417     15,759,030      37,791  29,400