Looking back at 2022
Champagne for Michael Donohoe and BBA Ireland was, presumably, not alcohol free. With the ring at Tattersalls packed full for its second sceptre session, Jeffrey Smith was bidding farewell to Alcohol Free, until then in training with Andrew Balding. She heads down under, with some surprise, to race on. Winner of this year's July Cup, Alcohol Free was back in Newmarket to go under the hammer for 5.4m gns. It left Coolmore's John Magnier a rare underbidder, though he secured Desert Berry (dam of Derby-winning Desert Crown) for 1.9m gns a short while later.
The purchase of Alcohol Free formed part of a sale that saw eleven millionaire lots, generating a total turnover of just over 54m gns, and smashing the 49.5m aggregate achieved during the Book 1 Tattersalls October Yearling Sales a month earlier. Taking on the record from that sale, 29th November 2022 became the highest-grossing sales day in European history.
Looking ahead to 2023
With the January Horses of All Ages Sale winding up in the United States, the 2023 bloodstock calendar has already got underway. Moreover, the year has already seen its first major headline, when it emerged that 2007 Epsom Derby-winning owner Saleh Al Homaizi had failed to pay for sixteen horses, purchased for £20.5m at the end of last year. Signed by bloodstock agent Richard Knight, during sales at Tattersalls in the UK, Goffs in Ireland, Arqana in France, and Keeneland in the United States, Knight has never publicly revealed his client's name.
Still, mutterings of a mystery buyer seeped through the industry last autumn, and Al Homaizi was exposed by name in a Racing Post article last week. Tattersalls, which gives buyers thirty days to pay, and extends credit in some circumstances, was quick to describe the incident as "regrettable", saying the horses in question would be sold privately this spring. Should they make the breeze-ups, the potential value they bring would be almost unprecedented in such sales, as stock of that value is seldom on offer.