Tattersalls Drops Houghton Sale; Part of Dates Dispute Settlement

Tattersalls' flagship Houghton Yearling Sale was axed Friday as the Newmarket, England bloodstock auction company announced a resolution of the long-running dispute over sales dates with Irish rival Goffs.

Following a Goffs board meeting on Thursday, March 11, where proposed dates recommended by Britain and Ireland's Thoroughbred Breeders' Associations were accepted, Goffs will stage its Orby and Challenge Sales from Monday, Sept. 27 to Friday, Oct. 1.

The select Houghton Yearling Sale, which had been scheduled for Sept. 29-30 at Tattersalls, has been merged into a reformatted October Yearling Sale-Part 1 -- with the Houghton name being dropped -- running from Tuesday, Oct. 5 to Friday, Oct. 8.

Between 700 and 800 yearlings are expected at the sale, which is likely to split into two sections, with a select session beginning the week.

The Tattersalls October Yearling Sale-Part 2 will run from Monday, Oct. 11, to Saturday, Oct. 16, with 1,000 to 1,100 horses expected to be offered.

Tattersalls and Goffs had originally both scheduled sales for the week beginning Oct. 4 and long-running discussions between the two companies had failed to reach a solution until Friday when a joint statement was released.

Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony and Goffs managing director Matt Mitchell commented in the statement: "We are pleased to have resolved any outstanding issues and, with valuable input from both the British and Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Associations, to have negotiated a settlement which we firmly believe to be in the long-term interests not only of Tattersalls and Goffs, but also, most importantly, of the vendors and purchasers."

Last year's Houghton Sale had a record average, 266,727 guineas, and median, 200,000 guineas, but was essentially dominated by just two buying forces -- Coolmore and the Maktoum family.

And with more and more of the best broodmares now in the hands of owner-breeders, numbers at the Houghton have continued to fall. Last year's catalogue the smallest in history with just 165 lots.

Jimmy George, Tattersalls' marketing director, said today: "We see this as a logical progression - last year's Houghton Sale was highly successful but the smallest ever and it's the way the yearling sales have evolved around the world in the last few years. Vendors have indicated that the select sale format is no longer what they want."