KEENELAND SEPTEMBER YEARLING SALE
8 - 21 September 2014
The biggest horse auction in the world, Keeneland September, drew to a close after a marathon fortnight of selling. In the end, and for the third consecutive year, it was the Tapit show, the Gainesway stallion chalking up six of the top thirteen lots. Sheikh Mohammed’sDarley Bloodstock was the biggest buyer, with 22 yearlings at $7.88million (around R90 million,) though that was nearly matched by the American couple, Gary and Mary West, who signed for 29 head at $7.805million. To put that into a local context, South Africans Markus Jooste and Bernard Kantor’s spend at the Arqana sale in France last month, was not far short in Euros.
The biggest hitter at the quality end of the sale was Coolmore’s M.V.Magnier, the Irishman picking up the ticket for four of the top thirteen (30%), signalling the ongoing dominance of European-based investors in the market place, a trend which has endured for a couple of decades. What’s happening is simply the reverse of what took place in the post-Second World War era, when American prosperity claimed the gems in the European market for several decades, the foundations for the American hegemony in the bloodstock market centred on Kentucky.
Illustrative of the new world shift eastward, is the fact that besides the European presence, there were buyers from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan and Russia, as well as Central and South America. Sheik Mohammed’s participation in the European sales has been somewhat muted of late, particularly by his former standards, a trend which dates back to his acquisition of the American sales company, Fasig-Tipton. Whether there is any correlation between the Fasig connection and his emphasis on the American sales is difficult to fathom, though it’s possible with the dominance in the European arena of Coolmore-based stallions and the Sheikh’s declared unwillingness to buy the progeny of those horses, that the answer lies somewhere between these two poles.
We did say last week that the American mega-stallion cupboard was somewhat bare at present, but they certainly have two very good “men” in Tapit and the Claiborne-based War Front, a Group 2-winning son of Danzig (so there’s hope for those of us who can only afford the Group Two horses!). War Front is a typical, blockbusting Danzig type, standing over ground with the powerful loins and quarters that stamp the tribe. Tapit on the other hand, is not the bulky, powerful Malibu Moon sort you might expect from a grandson of A.P. Indy: he has more scope and elegance than those two, he’s grey in colour and throws versatile horses that sprint and stay. He comes out with a presence and style that reminds one of the great Gainesway stallions of the past, Unbridled (who eventually made his way to Claiborne), Riverman and Lyphard, and gets good colts and fillies in equal measure.