10/07/2009 11:00PM

Tattersalls manages 10 percent gross gain

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NEWMARKET, England - Tattersalls auctioneers concluded the October Book 1 yearling sale Thursday night with a sense of relief, as gross revenue increased 10 percent and declines in average and median were far less than feared in light of roughly 30 to 40 percent downturns at earlier yearling auctions.

The three-day Book 1 auction sold 472 yearlings for a gross of about $89,758,998, resulting in an average price of about $190,167 and a median of approximately $133,560. Based on the local auction currency of guineas, those figures represented a 10 percent increase in gross from last year, when the auction sold 410 horses, and declines of 5 percent and 6 percent for average and median, respectively.

The 2009 buyback rate was 22 percent, down slightly from last year's 23 percent.

The sale-topping colt, auctioned early Thursday afternoon, was a 700,000-guinea son of Oasis Dream out of the Sadler's Wells mare Maganda. Coolmore chief John Magnier and prominent steeplechase owner Robert Ogden engaged in a bidding duel so subtle it was difficult to perceive who was bidding, and even the auctioneer, leaning over the side of his raised rostrum, mediated the contest with lowered voice as the price climbed to the equivalent of $1,168,650.

When the gavel finally dropped and broke the library-like hush, the bay colt belonged to Magnier. The yearling's dam is a three-quarter-sister to German Horse of the Year Kutub and a full sister to stakes winners In the Limelight and On the Nile. A winner herself, Maganda hasn't produced a winner yet, but she is only 8. Oakgrove Stud was the consignor.

The $1,168,650 sale-topper helped the final session gain 5 percent in gross, but the day's average and median were harder hit, losing 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The session buybacks improved from last year, declining from 29 percent to 25 percent.

"The global economy remains fragile, and we cannot pretend that the bloodstock market is immune from the impact of economic realities, but the vendors have brought some outstanding individuals to Book 1 of the October yearling sale, and we are delighted that their faith in the sale has been rewarded," Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony said after the auction.

His loss on Hip No. 545 left Ogden to bid for more. He has made occasional forays into flat racing and enjoyed success with such runners as multiple group winner Sander Camillo. At Tattersalls, he made strong runs at a number of well-bred, expensive yearlings, frequently by Coolmore sires, including Wednesday's joint session-topper, a $1,085,175 Galileo-Caumshinaun colt.

Among Ogden's other buys Thursday were a $918,225 Galileo-Lila colt and a $617,715 Danehill Dancer-Miss Honorine colt.

Coolmore, Ogden, and Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley and Rabbah Bloodstock entities continued to dominate the buyers' list Thursday. But other were able to pick up horses, too, including Kentucky-based Bob Trussell and his partner, owner-trainer Mikael Magnusson.

Trussell and Magnusson's agent, Cecil Seaman, said the partnership had hoped to buy five at Keeneland's September sale but purchased only two because the prices were stronger than expected for horses that made their short list.

"We're looking for just a nice horse," Magnusson said. "I was happy for the prices here, and we paid less for the horses here than we would have paid here last year."

"They brought more money at Keeneland this year than similar ones brought last year," Seaman said.

Storm Cat's next-to-last crop of yearlings initially had two entries at Tattersalls Book 1, but the results were disappointing for anyone hoping to see the popular stallion ring up a six- or seven-figure price. His son of Starry Dreamer scratched, leaving a daughter of Airwave to bring 88,000 guineas, or about $146,916.

Among the yearlings who shipped from the United States to sell here, the best price was 250,000 guineas ($417,375). That was for Hip No. 675, an Arch filly out of the stakes-winning Lead on Time mare Promptly. The bay filly was the next-to-last yearling to sell and went to Richard Frisby Bloodstock. She is a half-sister to Group 1 performer and Group 3 winner Fantastic View.

One particularly interesting American-bred that sold well was Hip No. 338, a Bernardini-Daneleta filly. The half-sister to 2008 Group 1 winner Intense Focus was a $525,000 buyback at last year's Keeneland November sale when she was a weanling. But at Tattersalls she brought about $601,020 from Maktoum's agent John Ferguson, and consignor Airlie Stud let her go this time.

"I think it's pretty good," said consignor Ted Voute. "We're pretty reliant on the Maktoum family, and thankfully they've got quite a vast stallion setup in both England and Ireland, which, ultimately, they're supporting at the yearling sales to help their stallions fill.

"There are people at every market. Regardless of what it's cost to produce a horse, if you price your horse according to who's looked at it, you will sell it to someone. But I think there will be a big readjustment in stud fees after this."