Ahead of the breeze-up season beginning with next week’s Tattersalls Craven Sale, Racing Post Bloodstock has been catching up with some of those involved. Matt Eves, whose Star Bloodstock graduates include Norfolk Stakes (G2) and multiple group 2 winner A’Ali , is first under the microscope.
How many horses are you consigning at this year’s breeze-up sales and which are you most excited by?
We have 15 being consigned under Star and two jointly with the Longways team. On a personal level, given my involvement with the dam, the Dark Angel colt out of Jet Setting (Lot 22 at Arqana) is one of our most exciting horses breezing; he has that same willingness to get his head down and work as his mother.
How did you find restocking at last year’s yearling sales?
In 2020 we spent just over £1 million, while this year we were a shade under. Our approach was similar, but we didn’t have to stretch as far. In terms of numbers we are maybe one or two short of where we wanted, but as our horses are all owned by one syndicate we only stepped into the ring if all the boxes were ticked.
How have you found the build-up to this year’s sales in comparison to last year?
We’ve made some big changes this year. We took over Ridge Manor Stables on the Curragh to give us access to some of the best gallops in the world and brought into the team Diego Dias, a longstanding breeze-up rider who had consigned a few of his own. This has given us much greater control over the product we are bringing to the market as they have been prepared by us.
Which first-season sires have impressed you most so far?
Arrogate—if the one we have is anything to go by he will be a hugely missed stallion. The lad we have at the Craven is out of an American Oaks (G1T) winner (Funny Moon), but he still has plenty of speed.
What are your expectations for the state of trade at the upcoming breeze-up sales?
Overall, I’d say optimistic. Getting the sales on before Ascot is a big thing and with a small crowd likely there I expect owners to want to buy that sort of horse.
Last year’s breeze-up season proved particularly challenging. What lessons did you learn during 2020?
This isn’t an industry-wide answer, but controlling your own destiny and having consistent data on all your horses is hugely important. We had our horses spread out, and ultimately we didn’t have good enough data on the cohort as a whole. At times buyers weren’t judging us as a separate consignment but an extension of the individual prepping the horse.
Tattersalls introduced the Royal Ascot/Group 1 bonus this year. How big an incentive do you feel that is for buyers?
I think it is a great incentive. Tattersalls had to do something as the Craven had become stranded in no-man’s land. The big pedigrees for middle-distance horses were heading to Arqana to get more time and with the earlier Ascot horses going to Doncaster, this encourages you to send an Ascot prospect to the Craven, and I genuinely believe you will see a big uptick in the track performance from that sale.