What makes a yearling worth £250,000?

October 2nd 2017

The thoroughbred yearling sales season is fast approaching and brings with it thousands of yearlings sold all over the Northern hemisphere for millions of pounds. Just three days of trade of yearlings at Tattersalls in October 2016 made over £92 million. That’s £30 million pounds of horse flesh traded per day; an average of almost £240,000 per yearling sold.

Bear in mind that these horses are just over a year old, and they’ve never been sat on, let alone seen a racetrack. So what does make a yearling worth £250,000?

Pedigree, pedigree, pedigree

Never mind location, it’s all about pedigree for these young horses. You take two sporting superstars, the racing equivalents of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis-Hill and common sense tells you that the resulting progeny should be fast. And whilst the equine version of Usain Bolt can father one hundred or so foals a year, our mare, Jessica, can only have one. The scarcity of these top athletes mean that their progeny can sell for millions of pounds. The better the parents, the more expensive the offspring.


So, you’ve bred Usain and Jessica together, and a year on the resultant yearling is on the taller side of average, has straight limbs and a jaunty walk. It’s got the pedigree, and appears to walk the walk. Not only that, but they appear to have picked up their parents’ respective good looks and look happy and at ease with the world. Bloodstock agents looking for superstar performers will look at every single yearling for sale in the catalogue and those ones who have the pedigree and the looks will be the most desirable purchases.

Deep pockets

It’s all very well having these potential equine athletes, but you need at least two people who are prepared to purchase them. The likes of Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed and member of the Qatari royal family, Sheik Fahad Al Thani have pockets as deep as oil wells. Every year you will see them in the UK bidding against the likes of Irish based Coolmore owned by John Magnier who is rumoured to be worth £3 billion.

Finally, an interesting statistic. The Green Monkey is the most expensive yearling ever purchased at public auction for a whopping $16 million. It was an expensive mistake. He ran only three times with a career best of third and lifetime winnings of only $10,440, and once retired his lack of success on the track meant he wasn’t popular as a sire.



Anna Goodley 3

Anna Goodley

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