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Havana Grey Holds Sway on Day 1 of December Foal Sale

Turnover was down by 51% compared to the 2022 session.

The Havana Grey colt consigned as Lot 450 in the ring at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale

The Havana Grey colt consigned as Lot 450 in the ring at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale

The bloodstock market has always followed a trajectory of peaks and troughs, and even those with the most positive disposition couldn't fail to notice the direction of travel Nov. 28 during a challenging Day 1 of the Tattersalls December Foal Sale.

Suggestions put forward by those on the ground identified the root cause as either overproduction, lack of demand linked inextricably to chronic levels of prize money, or simply a surfeit of stock that the commercial market has turned its back on. 

While the room may have been divided over the source of the shift, there seemed to be a consensus that the wider European bloodstock market is undergoing a correction that one leading vendor described as "brutal." 

The bare facts state that turnover was down by 51% compared to the corresponding session last year, with aggregate sales of 1,517,450 guineas (US$2,009,929, 1gn=US$1.3245). The average dropped by 32% to 11,240gns ($14,887) and the median was back by 38% at 8,000gns ($10,596), having been 13,000gns 12 months ago. Most sobering of all was the clearance rate of just 59%, with 135 Lots sold from 227 offered. 

Of course, not all breeders were left downbeat by events in the ring, particularly those with the progeny of Havana Grey to sell. Paul Gardner of Springcombe Park Stud bred the colt out of Ebrah, who topped the session when selling to Adrian O'Brien of Hazelwood Bloodstock at 65,000gns ($86,095). 

Lot 450 Havana Grey (GB) / Ebrah (GB) B.C. (GB)      Jamie Railton (Agent)    Hazelwood Bloodstock    65,000 Tattersalls December Foal Sale 2023-11-28
The session-topping colt out of Ebrah from the Jamie Railton draft

"This particular horse is a May foal and I think he's got an awful lot of improving to do," said O'Brien. "I certainly hope that'll be the way it works out. Even before he'd had a runner I've bought at least one foal by Havana Grey each year and I've had a bit of luck with him. I love his stock, obviously, and he's proving to be an outstanding sire. Their athleticism is the key, I'd say. They come in different shapes and sizes, but they all run." 

The colt was consigned by Jamie Railton, who said: "It's a really good result for an English owner-breeder, which are becoming rare beasts nowadays. It's great for Paul to get a good result. He bred Quiet Reflection, so he can produce you a good horse, and it's great for him to get a few quid back. He sent all his mares to Showcasing (sire of Quiet Reflection) in the early days and now he's sent them all to Havana Grey, so he's been lucky." 

Railton also brought the reality facing those selling into this market into sharp relief, saying: "It's very selective and we're in a market correction, so this was inevitable. Sadly, it's quite brutal for breeders. We'd expected this, though, and we've had to cut our cloth accordingly." 

Looking ahead to the following three sessions of the December Foal Sale, Railton added: "It'll be the same as (at Goffs) last week; good for the foals the market wants and nothing for the rest. We can all moan about it, but we've all just got to adapt and move on."

Hazelwood Bloodstock's other purchase on the day was also by Havana Grey, with O'Brien giving 38,000gns for the colt (Lot 404) out of Ventura Jazz from The Castlebridge Consignment. That transaction meant that Havana Grey accounted for four of the top six lots at the session.

The December Foal Sale continues Nov. 29 at 10 a.m. local time.