Preview of the 2020 BBAG Yearling Sale
The covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption to many areas of human activity, including the thoroughbred sales season. All over the world sales have been cancelled, or had their dates and venues changed or have been conducted entirely online. However the market has held up well and there still seems to be plenty of demand at all levels. The Australian yearling sales did well and so have the Northern hemisphere sales, so far mainly for horses in training and N.H. stores.
However the all-important yearling sales season is about to start in Europe, beginning with the Goffs UK Premier Yearling sales at Doncaster next Tuesday and Wednesday, quickly followed by the most important German sale, the BBAG Yearling Sale at Iffezheim next Friday, and then the Arqana Select Sale the following week. Obviously the various restrictions on travel and the quarantine regulations (e.g. in Ireland) have made life difficult for many of the leading buyers and their agents, but the BBAG has been lucky in this respect. Their sale will still be held on the traditional date – the first Friday in September- and it is possible to travel to Germany, which has the best record of any leading industrial country in dealing with the coronavirus, without too many problems. Of course next Friday´s sale will be different in many respects from the usual procedures: masks will have to be worn, no casual spectators will be present, and vendors and potential buyers will have to register in advance and be accredited before they will be allowed to enter the sales grounds, with security guards present to ensure that everybody adheres to the rules and guidelines. However this has worked well enough so far and there is no reason to assume that there will be problems of this nature next Friday (although of course the pandemic situation is so volatile that it can change from day to day with unforeseen consequences).
Buyers are expected from all over Europe and also from further afield, although for obvious reasons there will be no U.S. or Australian buyers present, while apparently Spain could also be a problem. Many of these buyers will start the week in Doncaster, and, as in previous years, the BBAG has chartered a plane to fly them from Yorkshire to the Black Forest; the plane leaves on Wednesday afternoon and has room for 25 passengers, and according to BBAG MD Klaus Eulenberger is already almost fully booked. Arqana has also chartered a plane to fly many of them to Deauville on Saturday morning.
There is a very strong catalogue with over 250 lots (and, up to the time of writing, very few withdrawals). All the leading German breeders and stud farms are represented as well as a small number from France and other countries. A curious feature of the catalogue is that almost all the likely top lots are fillies, there seem to be very few stand out colts this year. This is not really new; German bloodlines have an excellent reputation, and a filly from a top German family and sired by a leading international stallion has often turned out to be a star, both as a racehorse and as a broodmare.
Indeed the 2018 joint top lot at 280,000 euros was a Gestüt Etzean-bred filly by Sea The Stars out of a Group Two winner, who was knocked down to Tom Goff of Blandford Bloodstock, and now named Miss Yoda and trained by John Gosden in Newmarket, she at the beginning of this month ran out a convincing winner of the Group One Preis der Diana (German Oaks) in the colours of Georg von Opel. While last year´s top lot, at a record-breaking price of 820,000 euros, was another Sea The Stars filly, this one bred by Gestüt Brümmerhof and sold to Matt Coleman (Stroud Coleman Bloodstock) on behalf of Darley/ Godolphin and she is now in training with Charlie Appleby. Matt Coleman in fact bought the three top lots last year, all for Godolphin, and will be back again next week, as also will be Anthony Stroud and Tom Goff and indeed most of the top British, French and Irish bloodstock agents- despite their difficulties in getting back home afterwards.
Sea The Stars could well make it a hat-trick of sales toppers next week and his filly ex Sanwa (Monsun) could well be one of the highlights of the sale. Not only is Sanwa an own sister to two German Derby winners and a German Oaks winner, but also this yearling (lot no. 61), bred by Gestüt Görlsdorf, is a full sister to the outstanding Sea The Moon, the best winner of the German Derby of recent years and now a highly successful young stallion, who sired his first Group One winner a few weeks ago when Alpine Star won at Royal Ascot. Sea The Moon is currently the second most successful third crop sire in Europe, and it is more than likely that there will be several breeders trying to buy into this family.
Another filly likely to hit the headlines is lot no. 78, a Gestüt Röttgen-bred daughter of Dubawi out of Wellenspiel (Sternkönig), who has already bred two winners of the German Derby in Windstoss (Shirocco) in 2017 and Weltstar (Soldier Hollow) in 2018. As Dubawi is clearly one of the most successful sires in the world, and his progeny almost impossible to buy on the open market, this filly also looks certain to be in demand and she traces back to the great unbeaten Hungarian 19th century mare Kincsem.
Sea The Stars has two more yearlings in the sale, both fillies and also of great interest. Lot no.47, consigned by Gestüt Ohlerweiherhof (as agent) is out if a winning mare by Dubawi who is a half-sister to Group One Preis von Europa winner Baila Me, herself a half-sister to Group One winner Be Fabulous, while the fourth dam is Chilean 1,000 Guineas winner Blumme. Lot no. 173 is out of Group Two winner Ashiana, whose dam, also a group race winner, is also dam of Group-One placed Ashrun, runner-up in last week´s Prix Kergolay at Deauville and now being aimed at the Melbourne Cup. This filly, with a page full of black type, is being consigned by agent Jamie Railton.
Another internationally prominent sire with two fillies in the sale is Lope de Vega (Shamardal), who although trained in France, raced throughout his very successful career (two French classics) in the colours of Gestüt Ammerland and now stands at the Irish Ballylinch Stud for a six-figure fee. Lot no. 49, consigned by Ronald Rauscher, is out of the listed winner Promesse de l´Aube, a daughter of Galileo, herself out of White Rose (Platini), runner-up in the Group One Preis der Diana from an excellent family. Lot no. 183 is out of listed winner Diatribe and a half-sister to group race winner Degas; her second dam won the German 1,000 Guineas and this is also the extended family of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Other international sires with interesting fillies in the sale include Nathaniel (Galileo), who also has two yearling colts in the catalogue; his daughter, lot no. 40, is consigned by Ronald Rauscher and is out of a Tamayuz mare who is also the dam of French Group One winner Ask for the Moon, herself dam of Epsom Derby third Astrology. New Bay (Dubawi) also has two colts and a filly in the sale; the filly, lot no.62 and bred by Gestüt Ammerland, is out of listed winner Sassella (Lope de Vega), herself out of Goodwood group race winner Sevenna (Galileo) from the celebrated German family of Schwarzgold.
Schwarzgold, a daughter of the prewar German champion Alchimist was one of the best German racehorses ever and went on to found a dynasty which is still very prominent today. Six years after her, in 1943, another daughter of Alchimist was born, Waldrun, who was inferior as a racehorse but as a broodmare equally influential, and this “W” family, originally based at Gestüt Ravensberg, continues to throw up top class winners every year, as for example Arc winner Waldgeist last October. Several German breeders have also cultivated this family, such as Fährhof, who are offering lot no. 157, a Sir Percy filly from this family, or Brümmerhof, so often the leading consignors at this sale, but who have only colts this time around. Up-and-coming Gestüt Ohlerweiherhof, a stud with a very good recent record, has lot no. 81, a filly by Night of Thunder from this immediate family; she has a nice recent update, as the yearling´s half-brother Wengernalp ( (Reliable Man) won at Deauville a few days ago.
A more recent German mare who certainly qualifies now as an important blue hen, is Gestüt Röttgen´s Anna Paola (Prince Ippi), winner of the Preis der Diana in 1981; her descendants have been successful in top races all over the world – on the flat (e.g. One Thousand Guineas winner Billesdon Brook) and also over jumps (Champion Hurdler Annie Power). There are several members of this family in the BBAG catalogue, including lot no. 93 from Gestüt Westerberg Consignment, a filly by Maxios (Monsun) out of the listed-placed Antalya (Areion). Last year´s top lot was a member of this family, and Brümmerhof, who bred her, now have her close relation. lot no. 51, a colt by Areion. However he is unlikely to fetch such a high price, as Areion (Big Shuffle), although a sire this writer greatly admires, hardly has the same reputation as Sea The Stars.
Obviously there will be quite a bit of interest in sires represented here by yearlings from their first crop. Two of them are the Coolmore-based sons of Galileo and multiple Group One winners Churchill and Highland Reel. An extremely interesting daughter of the latter is lot no. 219, a Fährhof-bred filly out of the Monsun mare Quiana and thus a half-brother to this season´s leading German 3yo stayer Quian from the family of champion Quijano and the extended family of Arc winner Solemia. Fährhof has another filly by Highland Reel in the catalogue, lot no. 233, out of the Lomitas mare Suzanita, from the family of international champion Stacelita. The only Churchill filly in the sale is also a Fährhof-bred, lot no.199, out of a group placed Tiger Hill mare from the family of the outstanding champion Lomitas.
Clearly however the vast majority of yearlings in the sale are by German stallions, including eight by the most successful German-based sire of recent years, Soldier Hollow (In The Wings); of particular interest here could be Gestüt Park Wiedingen´s filly, lot no. 108, who is a half-sister to a recent winner in Australia from the family of Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire and Italian Derby winner Feuerblitz. Leading sire in Germany so far this season is another son of In The Wings, Adlerflug, after two sons of his finished first and second in the recent Deutsches Derby, the most valuable race of the German season. He has 12 yearlings in the sale, while the admirable above-mentioned Areion (Big Shuffle) and very promising youngster Amaron (Shamardal) both have eleven. The sire with the biggest contingent is Australian import Counterattack (Redoute´s Choice), with 15 lots; he is another first crop sire. The exciting Sea The Moon, who stands at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket but is German-bred and has been well patronized by German breeders including especially by his own breeder Gestüt Görlsdorf, also has eleven yearlings listed and they look certain to attract a lot of interest.
It is of course impossible for this writer to give full justice to every lot in the catalogue within the scope of this short article. We have concentrated on the fillies, as they appear to be of greater interest than the colts this year. We have also dealt exclusively with the pedigrees as they appear on the catalogue page, and not on the physical characteristics nor the conformation. We apologise in advance to any breeder whose pride and joy has not been mentioned here, the choice we have made is completely subjective. The sale at Doncaster early next week will certainly give us an idea of what to expect as regards the strength of the market and of which stallions are likely to attract the most interest and the highest prices. In fact, in these uncertain times it is almost impossible to predict anything, but the BBAG team has done a great job in putting this catalogue together and organizing the sale. We are cautiously optimistic and hope –even expect –the sale to be a great success; we especially hope that the top lots as described here sell well and will end up with the right owners and in the right stables so that we can look forward to cheering them on in the 2022 classics.