FURTHER evidence of a return to normality brought further cheer as the 2022 Irish sales season got off to a bright start with quite a strong edition of the Tattersalls Ireland February National Hunt Sale.

This one day auction was shelved last year due to Covid-19 but it made a striking return to the sales calendar with a set of results that compared very well with any previous edition of this sale over the last 20 years.

Indeed, the average of €13,064, which was up 14% on the 2020 figure, was a record for the sale. The median did fall slightly from €9,250 to €9,000 but was still the second highest figure on record for the auction while a turnover of just under €2.2m was the best since 2007.

The strong demand for quality stock that was in evidence at other major National Hunt auctions in recent months was witnessed over the course of the day and it was interesting to note that the number of horses making at least €40,000 jumped from five in 2020 to 11 this time around.

The clearance rate of 60% is testament to a market that was selective but such is the nature of sales at this time of year and that figure compares well with a number of other recent editions of this sale.

“We are delighted to kick off our first sale of 2022 with another record breaking session, following last year’s record breaking renewals of the November Sale and the Derby Sale that returned the highest average and median on record for any store sale,” remarked Tattersalls Ireland CEO Simon Kerins at the conclusion of the sale.

“The February Sale was cancelled in 2021 due to Covid-19 and it was fantastic to stage a sale today under more ‘normal’ conditions and witness the fierce competition for choice foals between buyers from near and far. It is very pleasing to see the figures reach new highs, proving the February National Hunt Sale is worth the wait,” he added.

Robin flies highest

AS ever, the vast majority of the sale’s notable transactions came from the yearling section but top honours went to the classy mare Robin De Carlow who fetched €70,000.

This former Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old recorded eight victories during her time on the track.

As a hurdler she was successful at Grade 3 and listed level while she produced her career best over fences as her penultimate start yielded a Grade 3 success at Tipperary which was achieved at the expense of the subsequent dual Cheltenham winner Put The Kettle On.

The daughter of Robin Des Champs, a wildcard entry, was bought by Ballincurrig House Stud’s Michael Moore. He reported that he was acting for an English-based client, Simon Cox, who intends to race this mare’s resulting progeny.

Shields takes Risk

A YEARLING son of No Risk At All emerged as the top priced lot at this year’s sale when he was knocked down to Kieran Shields for €62,000.

On pedigree alone, this colt made huge appeal as he shares his sire with jumping stars the quality of Allaho and Epatante while his dam, Princesse Kap, won six blacktype races in France headed by a Grade 2 chase at Auteuil.

A return to the sales ring beckons for this colt who was sold by Ballincurrig House Stud with the farm’s Michael Moore explaining that he and a friend bought the colt privately from his Normandy-based breeder.

Sport horse buyer

ANOTHER weekend that yielded another impressive bumper winner – Seabank Bistro – offered yet further evidence of Walk In The Park’s prowess and the Montjeu horse supplied several of the day’s leading lights.

These were headed by a €60,000 yearling colt from Ardrums House Stud who was snapped up by well-known Wexford-based sport horse producer Jason Higgins.

This colt is out of a Grade 3-placed daughter of High Chaparral and he could be offered as a three-year-old or else be kept to head down the point-to-point route.

Walk In The Park was also responsible for a much sought after gelding who was among a handful of two-year-olds offered at the start of the day.

This relation to the Pertemps Final third Not Many Left cost Dick Frisby €50,000 and the Glenwood Stud man also spent €48,000 on a son of Blue Bresil out of an own-sister to the Cheltenham bumper third Wait For Me.

Doyle picks up nice point-to-point hope

NOTED point-to-point handler James Doyle was taking a long term view when giving €54,000 for a Milan colt out of an unraced Fame And Glory half-sister to last season’s star novice hurdler Appreciate It.

After signing for the Ballincard Farm offering Doyle reported that his purchase was likely to head down the point-to-point route.

That path is also an option for Rathkenty Stud’s €50,000 son of Sholokhov who was snapped up by Gearoid O’Loughlin. This colt shares his sire with the likes of Bob Olinger, Shishkin and Don Cossack while he boasts major appeal on the other side of his family as he is out of a winning half-sister to the Gold Cup hero Minella Indo.

Ian Ferguson invests

IAN Ferguson picked up a couple of smart sorts late in the day and he struck first for a €46,000 son of Blue Bresil out of an own-sister to First Lieutenant who has already produced two blacktype performers in Lieutenant Rocco and Condesa.

Ferguson also spent €40,000 on a Getaway colt from Yellowford Farm. This colt’s pedigree has gone from strength to strength over the last year as he is a half-brother to last season’s Coral Cup second Craigneiche while his half-sister Party Central has notched up two Listed victories in the last 12 months.

A €45,000 son of Crystal Ocean out of an own-sister to Battleoverdoyen will be reoffered as a three-year-old after being knocked down to Timmy Hillman while John Lynch had to go to €41,000 for a son of Yeats hailing from the family of Best Mate.