Buyers in hunt for winners of the future
Forget your local betting shop — the gambles start long before then.
And today marks the start of the latest cycle in the business of finding a winner. This week and next, the cream of the commercial European yearling crop will be auctioned in Newmarket, in the elegant domed Tattersalls salering.
The good news for vendors is that, based on trading in the States, Ireland and France, the market for such luxury goods seems to be holding steady.
The tricky news for buyers is that, though the catalogue is smaller than usual, there will still be some 1,600 young colts and fillies from which to try to select next year's top two-year-olds or the Classic stars of 2013.
On paper, it seems easy. This afternoon, for example, a Galileo half-brother to Derby hero Pour Moi will go under the hammer. As will close relatives to Nathaniel, Fame And Glory, Equiano. Tomorrow features a half-brother to Canford Cliffs.
All will attract keen attention and, at the top end of the price leaderboard, sometimes you do get what you pay for. This year's ill-fated Dubai Sheema Classic and Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner Rewilding, for instance, cost a cool half-million as a yearling.
It is not, though, necessary to spend a fortune to buy a champion, as was so memorably demonstrated by Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victrix Danedream. She was let go by her breeders in Germany for a mere £7,800 as an unraced juvenile.
Her well-related dam, a daughter of Danehill, had been bred with the highest of hopes by Coolmore associates, but failed to reach the track and was herself cast off cheaply.
And her half-brother finished last in a Class 6 contest at Catterick last month.
But such are the vagaries of genetic inheritance in an industry built on dreams.
“It's that sort of thing that keeps it all going,” said Jimmy George, marketing manager at Tattersalls. “If it was all predictable and easy, we wouldn't all be here hope in our hearts, year after year.”