Robust trade in top tier but bottom sector hit

Arqana: trade for the best horses at the yearling sale was strong

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Robust trade in top tier but bottom sector hit
By Martin Stevens 1:06PM 20 AUG 2016

A FALL in the average price at this week's Arqana August Yearling Sale appeared to hit the lower end of trade the most.

Putting the sale results in order of highest price to lowest, splitting them up into four and comparing each portion – or quartile – with the 2015 renewal shows that the €29,818 average price in the bottom sector fell by 14 per cent year-on-year.

There was an eight per cent drop in average in the second lowest quartile to €64,407 but a seven per cent increase in the second highest quartile to €118,876.

That last figure confirms anecdotal evidence from some agents during the sale, who complained that every time they went in on a yearling they found themselves up against a host of other bidders and were unable to seal the deal.

The top quartile shows a 15 per cent decrease in average price to €317,529, but it should be noted that last year's sale featured a record price when John Ferguson splashed out €2.6 million on a Dubawi colt for Godolphin.

This year's sale-topper cost ‘just' €1.4m so in this instance a comparison of median prices is more fitting, and it remained steady at €260,000.

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For the record, the median climbed by 13 per cent to €120,000 in the next quartile down, but slipped by 14 per cent in the two lowest quartiles.

The fact that figures in the top two quartiles were relatively buoyant should provide cause for optimism for vendors of elite stock, especially as Ferguson did not sign for a single yearling over the three days of the auction.

Ferguson spent almost €7m on stock at last year's Arqana August Sale and yet turnover this week dipped by only around €2m, demonstrating that Godolphin are not the only owners with deep pockets.

Among those who stepped into the breach were Shadwell, who spent almost €1.5m more on yearlings in Deauville than in 2015, and Jean-Claude Rouget, whose expenditure at the August Sale rose by around €1m.

A robust top end of the market and a weaker bottom was also the story at the Arqana V2 Sale, a single session of more precocious types, on Wednesday.

Yearlings in the lower quartile of trade sold for an average of €10,533, down 21 per cent year-on-year. In the next quartile up the average fell by four per cent.

The second highest quartile was, as at the August Sale, very strong with the average up by 15 per cent, while the top quartile recorded a nine per cent increase.

Overall, the message from Deauville this week is a well-worn one: trade for the best horses was strong but it was heavy weather for the lesser lights.

An important footnote is, however, that when we talk about average prices at the Arqana August Yearling Sale decreasing from 2015, we are comparing against a preceding year in which there was incredibly strong trade and records were broken in turnover, average and median, as well as top price – beating even the figures recorded in the heady pre-recession days of the mid-noughties.

That this week's Arqana August Yearling Sale was able to register figures not far behind those records and actually set a new high in median, despite market uncertainty caused by Brexit, must surely be something for breeders and vendors to celebrate.

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