A record-breaking largest ever Tattersalls December Foal Sale concluded in Newmarket, England on Saturday with a 21,157,000 guineas gross for the 738 horses sold, up 23% on the amount yielded by 585 sold 12 months ago.
Last year's figures included a 1.8-million guineas lot, accounting for over 10% of the sale total, so this year's 28,688 guineas average actually fell by 3% although the 21% rise in median to 17,000 guineas was a more accurate reflection of the market. The 2003 clearance rate was 78.1% compared to 71.7% in 2002.
Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony commented: "All four of our yearling sales, starting with the Houghton and culminating with the December Yearling Sale on Monday, have broken new ground and they have had a major impact on the success of this week's foal sale.
"The turnover has broken the 20-million guineas barrier for the first time which in itself is a massive rise, but the real indicators have been the surge in the median and the higher clearance rate from the largest foal catalog ever put together in Europe. The median shows the extraordinary depth to the market, and equally indicative has been the record number of lots breaking 50,000 guineas, 100,000 guineas and 200,000 guineas. The Irish pinhookers, as ever, have led the charge, but all week they have been up against strong domestic competition as well as buyers from throughout Europe and further afield. We have a strong catalog of mares and fillies to come, and we can very definitely take encouragement from this week's proceedings."
Watership Down Stud was the week's top vendor, selling eight lots for 842,000 guineas, while Sheikh Mohammed's agent John Ferguson headed the buyers' table after making an unprecedented nine foal purchases for 1.68 million guineas.
Among those was Saturday's top lot, a 300,000 guineas French-bred Green Desert colt out of Solosole consigned by Marc de Chambure, Eric Puerari and Michel Zerolo's European Sales Management. BBA's Ireland's Adrian Nicoll was underbidder for the colt.
Danehill's penultimate foal crop included a daughter of Grail, a half-sister to top 2-year-old Three Valleys, consigned by New England Stud for the Countess de le Warr, who bred the filly in a foal share.
David and Diane Nagle's Barronstown Stud is likely to re-consign the filly to next year's Houghton Sale after paying 260,000 guineas.
The four-day breeding stock sale begins Monday.