12/06/2007 1:00AM

Despite record numbers, Tattersalls chief cautions

EmailThe Tattersalls December mare sale in Newmarket, England, concluded Thursday with records for gross and average, but Edmond Mahony, chairman of the company, raised a warning that overproduction is having a negative effect on the market overall.

The four-day auction sold 762 horses for a sale-record gross of 69,498,500 guineas, the equivalent of about $147,406,318. That surpassed last year's record of 66,235,800 guineas for 870 horses. The 2007 average price of 91,205 guineas, about $193,445, also was a sale record and was up 20 percent from last year's average. But the median dropped 23 percent to 23,000 guineas, about $48,783.

Ten horses brought 1 million guineas or more, including the sale-topper, Satwa Queen. The Group 1 winner sold for a European filly record of 3.4 million guineas, about $7.3 million at the day's exchange rate, on Monday. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum purchased Satwa Queen from the Ecurie Jean de Roualle consignment.

But the slipping market for lesser stock was evident at the auction's final session Thursday, when the average fell 45 percent and median dropped by 47 percent.

"We have enjoyed a very successful year at Tattersalls, but the sheer number of horses now being offered is without doubt placing a strain on the market," Mahony said. "In 2002, we offered less than 5,000 horses. This year we have offered 7,000. The market is struggling to absorb such a massive difference, which suggests that a period of adjustment is needed, especially at a time when prize money in Britain is dwindling in real terms."