10/18/2004 12:00AM

Tattersalls declines 'sobering'

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The Tattersalls October yearling sale in Newmarket, England, changed formats in 2004, combining the catalogs for the Tattersalls Houghton and two-part October yearling sales. But the change

didn't help the bottom line. The revamped yearling auction - now known as October 1 and October 2 - posted substantial declines from the three sales' returns last year.

The 2004 October sales sold a total of 1,362 yearlings for gross receipts of about $122,652,377 and an average price of about $90,053. In the local auction currency of guineas, those figures are significantly down from the combined returns from last year's Houghton and October Part 1 and October Part 2 yearling sales, which sold 1,284 yearlings. Compared in guineas, the 2004 gross was down 14 percent, while the average price fell 19 percent in what Tattersalls officials termed "sobering" results.

Last year, the Houghton and both segments of the October yearling sale were record-breaking auctions for Tattersalls.

Noting that this year's catalog featured 240 more horses than last year, Edmond Mahony, chairman of Tattersalls, cited several factors for the declines, including a leveling off of purse money, general economic stagnation, and rising oil prices.

"Combine these dynamics with a British and Irish foal crop which has increased by nearly 2,000 in the last two years," said Mahony, "and it is little wonder that we have seen a correction in the market."