“The Bar Keeps Lifting” – Tattersalls Craven Sale Kicks Off On Tuesday 

It’s that time of year again, the Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up Sale–where whispers of Royal Ascot horses and potential breeze-up sensations fills the air. 

There’s scarcely anything more exciting than the eve of a major sale and they don’t come much bigger than the Craven. 

This is where Classic winners Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) and Cachet (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}) were found and the roll of honour does not stop there. Everything is up for grabs at Tattersalls over the next two days and few people know this better than Norman Williamson, who sold Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail to Godolphin here in 2021. 

Williamson offers three colts through his hugely successful Oak Tree Farm operation this year–by Mehmas (Ire), No Nay Never and Blue Point (Ire), hotly-tipped for first-season sire honours by some of the finest minds in the game. 

And the man with the Midas Touch reports footfall ahead of the sale to be encouraging. 

Williamson said, “We’ve got three nice colts here. The horses are trotting up sound after the breeze, which is a huge relief because, until you get to this stage, you haven’t jumped through the hoops.”

He added, “The bar keeps lifting and so does the standard of horses at the breeze-ups. Obviously, it’s easy to see that by the results. But the standard has been lifted by the breeze-up consignors year after year. 

“There’s only a small bunch of consignors but, John Cullinane always says it, we’re punching above our weight. It seems to be working–the standard of breezing is getting so high and so too is the competition. That means it costs a lot of money to be competitive and therefore the risks are getting higher. You have to have your ducks in a row.”

Native Trail was not the only Classic winner to benefit from Williamson’s tutelage as Roger Varian’s St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) also came through the Oak Tree Farm breeze-up system at Arqana.

Therefore, it was hardly surprising that Williamson’s corner down at the Highflyer Paddocks on the sale ground was one of the busiest going and, in between shows to top bloodstock agents Mark McStay, Peter and Ross Doyle and BBA Ireland’s Michael Donohoe, he outlined his hopes about the sale that kicks off at 5.30pm on Tuesday. 

“Mehmas and No Nay Never are two great sires and Mehmas is upgrading his mares. This Mehmas [lot 2] of mine has an excellent pedigree being a half-brother to Insinuendo (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}), who won the Group 3 for Willie McCreery at the Curragh the other day. He’s got lots going for him and is a real good-looking horse. The No Nay Never [118] is a big horse but did a beautiful breeze. And of course all of the talk is for Blue Point–he’s already had his winners and I think it was quite obvious why there is so much talk about the sire watching them breeze. They are quick and my horse is fast. The unofficial clock says he’s [199] very fast so let’s hope we get rewarded.”

He added, “I have only one horse for day one and, usually at this sale, the buyers don’t normally look at the day one and day two horses together, but they seem to be looking at every horse today which is a good sign. I’d have to say that, for the evening of the breeze day, we’ve been very busy. We haven’t seen many international buyers around but we’re hoping to see them tomorrow.”

Roderic Kavanagh | Tattersalls

It shouldn’t go unnoticed that the fingerprints of Peter and Antoinette Kavanagh’s Kildaragh Stud are all over the Native Trail success story, given they pinhooked the Classic winner as a foal to yearling. That is rather apt as their son Roderic stands on the brink of recording notable success at this year’s Craven Breeze Up Sale after two of his Glending Stables-drafted colts topped the unofficial times. Put simply, Kavanagh can stick his chest out on Tuesday knowing he has two blisteringly-quick colts on his hands, by Equiano (Fr) and Havana Grey (GB) respectively. 

What’s more interesting is that the Equiano is a full-brother to the brilliant three-time Group 1-winning sprinter The Tin Man (GB).

“He was very professional–just enjoys doing it and has always been the same,” Kavanagh said of the Equiano colt [9]. “He’s very like his Dad with probably a bit more motion. In fairness, a lot of the credit has to go to everyone in Newsells Park Stud. When I went down to look at their horses at Book 2 here in October, I asked them if there was anything getting missed out of all of their horses. They put forward the Equiano, in fairness to them. The mare [Persario (GB) (Bishop Of Cashel {GB})] is getting on in years but she doesn’t miss too often. I’d say this is a very talented horse, hopefully.”

He added, “The Havana Grey [198] is another horse who has shown an awful lot of ability. They showed up on the day and the man [Gordon Power] riding them was a big help–I think he rode four of the top six times. 

“We’re still a million miles away and there’s lots of water to flow under the bridge between now and the sale but hopefully it comes together. There’s no reason why it won’t because a lot of the right people are here and, when we have the models to match up with the performances, I think we should be okay.”

So, any nerves?

“After a good day like today, you wouldn’t be as nervous. But hopefully it’ll come together. They’re not standing us a fortune, you know, they were 52,000gns and 42,000gns each, so I think we should be okay. 

“We’re breezing horses for five or six years now and we’ve had a good run. We breezed Gis A Sub (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), who was second in the Gimcrack, and we also had a good horse called Tuscan (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}), who was rated 105. In a short space of time we’ve had a few good ones.”

The same can be said for the Craven Sale on the whole, which is something the ever-enthusiastic Jimmy George, marketing director at Tattersalls, was keen to get across on Monday evening. 

“The breeze was well-attended and thankfully the weather was kind to us,” he said in a typically upbeat fashion. “There are some very smart two-year-olds in the sale and they breezed very well so all of the ingredients are in place for a good sale. The sale ground was pretty busy after the breeze and we’re looking forward to tomorrow now. 

“The racecourse is the best possible barometer to measure any sale on and the results from the Craven Sale have been pretty spectacular in recent years, not least with Native Trail and Cachet winning Classics last season. That is the best possible advertisement for the Craven Sale which continues to go from strength to strength.”

George added, “It should also be said that it doesn’t go unnoticed the bonuses that are on offer to buyers at the Craven Sale. For every Class 4 novice or better, there is an extra £15,000 bonus on top of the prize-money and for any two-year-old who goes on to win at Royal Ascot or indeed in any Group 1 race, there are hefty bonuses to be won as well. That has certainly caught the imagination.

“We have a pretty diverse crew of buyers in attendance, which is great to see. We have purchasers from America, some Japanese interests, representation from the Gulf and Hong Kong and broader Europe.”

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