Yearling sales season is here and our founder Tim Palin talks about our Bloodstock strategy

Mon 23 Aug 2021

We like to think that since Middleham Park Racing was formed over 25 years ago, that we have brought plenty of smiles to our owners' faces as their horse crosses the line first (all 1,237 of them!) However, the work that goes into supplying those winners for our syndicates, starts early on at the yearling sales...

August sees the beginning of the 2021 yearling public auctions and our bloodstock team will be attending them all, carrying out detailed research into all aspects of these juveniles, to make sure we secure the very best to add to the Team MPR string.

Attending these yearling sales, is where the flat racing cycle begins. We have already been studying the catalogues and shortlisting individuals we would like to inspect at the sale. We are looking for horses that we feel will go on to offer their owners, an opportunity to have some great days out at the races – ideally winning ones of course, as that’s the name of the racing game!

Here are some of our Listed and Pattern race WINNERS that we have previously purchased from these sales, with their purchase prices in brackets:

Arqana Deauville - *Group 2 and Listed winner RAYMOND TUSK (€85,000) and Listed winner CLEM FANDANGO (€11,000)*

Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale - *Group 1 winner and Champion European 2yo 2013; TOORMORE (£36,000), Group 2 winner VENTURA TORMENTA and dual Group 2 winner KOOL KOMPANY (£40,000)*

Osarus Yearling Sale - *Listed winner TIGRE DU TERRE (€55,000) and Listed winner BOITRON (€45,000)*

Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale - *Group 3 & dual Listed winner MARIE'S DIAMOND (€35,000), Group 3 winner GREAT PAGE (€28,000) and Listed winner VIREN'S ARMY (€110,000)*

Tattersalls - *Group 1 and Group 3 winner VENTURA STORM (110,000gns)*

Take a look at our full list of Listed and Pattern race winners here: OUR RECORD.

As one owner quoted in a survey that we conducted, when asked what excites them about ownership with MPR, said: “The opportunity to race at the highest level, which is way beyond the means of most of us.”

There is no higher level to win at, than Group 1 races – and all 3 of our winners at this level, were bought at public auction: TOORMORE was purchased at the DBS sale as a yearling (now known as the Goffs UK, Premier Yearling Sale) where we will be heading next week. We bought VENTURA STORM as a 2-year-old breezer from Tattersalls and G FORCE was an HIT 25,000gns purchase, also from Tattersalls. Toormore went on to be European Champion 2-year-old Colt and G Force, European Champion 3-year-old Sprinter the following year.

VENTURA TORMENTA (pictured,) is a colt who was purchased at the above-mentioned Premier Yearling Sale and as a 2-year-old, he won the 2020 Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. We were delighted to see him as ‘the poster boy’ at last year’s sale! 

We always aim to purchase yearlings that will go on to give our owners the chance to experience these Festival meetings and big Saturday race days. This is an area in which we excel when compared to other syndicates and we believe our record shows that. In 2021 alone, owners have been racing at the Craven Meeting on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, Greenham Day at Newbury, The Chester May Festival, the Dante Meeting at York, Lockinge day at Newbury, Irish Guineas day at The Curragh, Derby day at Epsom, French Derby day at Chantilly, 4 runners at Royal Ascot, the Irish Derby Festival at The Curragh, Northumberland Plate day at Newcastle, Eclipse day at Sandown, John Smiths Cup day at York, July Cup day on the July course at Newmarket and recently Shergar Cup day and Glorious Goodwood, where Magical Wish took the headlines for literally seeing off his rivals when winning! We have declared 3 runners for the first day of this weeks Ebor Festival, at York..

Director Of Racing Tim says on 'Yearling Strategy': “We will be hunting for value at the yearling sales on sensible budgets. It has become apparent that at 1 or 2 of the traditional sales, that the prices have become ridiculous and so we will be re-aligning the structure and moving away from the sales where there is simply ‘no value.'  Our focus in particular, will be at the Goffs Premier Yearling Sale, where we feel the best value is to be had. We will also have our eyes on  the Tattersalls Book 1 and 2 sales for some higher level purchases, north of 110,000 guineas. We have done well from the breeze up's this summer, buying at a higher price point (CLARENDON HOUSE, DYNAMIC FORCE and DUBAI STATION) and we have clients willing to come on board at this level. This year, we have seen a growing number of new owners join us, taking a 25% or 50% stake in a horse. So, in essence, where the quality and value is sufficient, we will target these sales.

Tim goes on to talk about 'Cashing In': "It's widely acknowledged within racing, that racehorse ownership should never be classed as an 'investment.' There are no guarantees when you place your hard-earned cash into the stock market and bloodstock purchasing is the same. Our sport offers those lucky enough to become an owner; fun, excitement, endless adrenalin bursts as your horse leaves the starting stalls and the cachet of being 'at the races as an owner.' Anything else on top of that - be it a winner or a lucrative sell on - is a bonus! Selling on is an art form in itself. We often say that the best time to accept an offer on a horse is when you don’t want to sell. There’s no guarantee that a horse can maintain a level , train on or continue racing without facing a setback. 'Black type' or placing in a pattern race can add value, but only if it is capitalised upon at the right time and a horses value is something that can easily disappear. Offers received for our horses are always put to the syndicate for each member to vote on. We have successfully delivered on this score time after time. Take VENTURA REBEL for example; we bought him at the 2018 Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale for £28,000. He won his first two starts at Thirsk and then in a Conditions race at Ascot; beating the hot favourite Lady Pauline. Then the offers came in and his owners voted to accept an exceptional six-figure sum for him – very wisely I might add! . 

The sale of Ventura Rebel, followed in the hoof steps of previous high return six and seven figure sales successes for Middleham Park Racing syndicates: Between 2016 and 2020, our 'Top 10' bloodstock sales, bought by our current bloodstock team, cost £499,000 between them and were sold for a magnificent total of £4,130,500 for their owners. 

'What do you look for in an unraced horse?' "We try and buy the best possible page we can afford, but a nice, well put together individual which moves well - this is important too. A good pedigree page alone does not make a good racehorse. What makes a good racehorse is a good page but ultimately the right conformation and for us, our eyes do the hard work before the horse enters the sales ring. There is no rhyme or reason behind where and when we stop bidding on any given horse other than what we value the horse at. One thing is for sure we will never pay in excess of what we believe this true valuation to be.

Potential is the other consideration. The potential to be a very good, high class racehorse, not just 'a' racehorse - does a horse have the size and scope to train on? To try and quantify that, we are offered horses all the time and we see thousands of horses at the sales; however, unless we believe a horse can earn a rating of at least 90 or 100 on the Flat or 140 or above over hurdles we will likely pass over the horse. The rationale being, horses of those kind of ratings can earn their keep, as well as compete in Saturday and Festival type races where you associate the larger prize money pots, whereas horses at a lower level rarely do. It's about trying to give owners a fair chance of a return on their monthly/annual fees and better days to go racing: The type of owner badges, you'd wish to add to a framed collection! Yes of course many of our horses will operate very successfully for us with ratings below 90 or 140 but there's a difference between knowingly purchasing one and maximising what you in due course have. We have a mantra which we find so often bears out; that if you buy cheap, you end up having to buy twice. You might have ten 2-year-olds in your locker that cost less than £20,000 and one might turn out to be good enough. Buy five for over £35k and your chances of getting better performers are increased. It doesn't matter how much you pay for a horse, they all cost the same each month to train and race in the end." 


We cannot wait to see what this years yearling sales have to offer. We have included a full list of the Sales Dates here:

14th - 17th: Arqana Yearling Sale
24th - 25th: Goffs Premier Yearling Sale

7th: Tattersalls Somerville Yearling Sale
14th - 15th: Osarus September Yearling Sale
21st - 22nd: Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale
28th - 29th: Goffs Orby Yearling Sale

5th-7th: Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 1
11th-13th: Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 2
14th-15th: Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 3
16th: Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 4
18th - 22nd: Arqana October Yearling Sale.

If you would like to be informed about any of our yearling purchases, please add your email address to our mailing list here and we will email everyone on this list first when we purchase any new horse.

Please don't hesitate to contact Sarah if you have any questions or would like to know more about becoming an owner with MPR:

Here's to another successful sales season and we hope you will be joining us as an owner to race next year.


August House
Appleyard Drive
North Lincolnshire
DN18 5TD


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