Team Coolmore secured the top-priced yearling, a $3.1m colt, at the Keeneland July Sales late on Tuesday night, heading the buyers' leaderboard at Kentucky's most select auction for the third time in four years. Demi O'Byrne, representing John Magnier and Michael Tabor, also bought two cheaper youngsters for a total spend of $4,030,000 but even the combined firepower of the Co Tipperary operation and Sheikh Mohammed, whose bill for the two days came to $5.3m, was not enough to save the prestige market.
The knock-on effect of North America's recent financial fiascos was evident as the level of trading fell by 30 per cent from last year's record high. A mere nine yearlings made seven figures, compared with 16 a year ago and, perhaps most telling of all, of the 146 offered, 59 – or 40 per cent – failed to reach their reserve prices and returned whence they came, a woeful clearance rate.
The fixture, topped in the past by such subsequent celebrities as A P Indy and Fusaichi Pegasus and dire failures like Snaafi Dancer, sets the tone for the remainder of the year for the bloodstock industry and just two months remain before the start of the élite European auction season.
The pick of this week's bluegrass bluebloods was a handsome white-socked bay son of Storm Cat who skittered alarmingly round the ring as the hammer crashed down at the conclusion of the bidding. His dam, the Mr Prospector mare Tacha, is from the immediate family of the multiple European Group winner State Shinto.
After the acquisition of a $2m filly at Monday night's first session, Sheikh Mohammed's man, John Ferguson, added two colts to his shopping trolley, a $1.8m Gone West half-brother to the smart juvenile Rossini and Dubai Destination's full-brother for $1.5m. Cheveley Park Stud acquired a Nureyev half-sister to Saratoga Springs for $600,000 but most of the transactions were domestic affairs, with little interest from Japan.
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