Wednesday, 17 October 2012

1,110,000 guineas changed hands in under 2 hours!

Being only a short distance from the racing town of Newmarket, we decided to have a day out and visit the yearling auction at Tattersalls.
All sales are still conducted in units of guineas and, for those of you too young to remember, a guinea was 21 shillings when there were 20 shillings to the pound - so, in today's parlance, that's £1.05 pence = 1 guinea.
We parked the car and walked up the hill but, if you wished, you could just hand over the key to your Mercedes, Range Rover etc to the valet parkers
 Outside in the paddock the next 6 or 7 lots were paraded in front of potential buyers (and us) before going into the auction ring. No names yet (that will be up to the purchasers as these are yearlings and haven't yet raced) just lot numbers and the form of dam/sire siblings and half siblings. This is lot 1134 which went on to sell at a mere 28,000 guineas
 Lot 1141
 This chestnut only fetched the minimum sale price of 3,000 guineas. We enjoyed trying to spot the bidders and picking our favourites in the paddock and then seeing what money they fetched. G had apoplexy every time I moved in case I spent the odd 50,000 without realising it
 The auctioneer 'admonishes' someone for dropping out of the bidding
 It's a fantastic arena - the few people you see in the stands here are the main people bidding for this, or one of the next few, lots. They are seated directly opposite the auctioneer, so are more able to catch his eye although he did have 3 'spotters' working for him in case he missed a bid
 This is our lot 1141 again; now in the ring - sold for 50,000 guineas
 Outside, above the paddock, an LED screen displays the lot number and bids currently being auctioned inside; although somewhat superfluous as you could hear the auctioneer halfway across town

 Stabling surrounds the main building, paddock and auction room. Car and horsebox parks surround the stabling - it covers a massive area, especially slap bang in the middle of town!

 This statue in memory of Hyperion stands outside the jockey club
So here are some statistics for you. We watched for just under 2 hours and, during that time, 33 lots were sold for 1,110,000 guineas (dearest 170,000; cheapest 3,000). That's an average price of 33,636 guineas x 1,042 lots over 4 days = 35,048,712 guineas which is £36,801,148 which (we think) includes VAT at £6,133,525 of revenue collected for the government - mind boggling Monopoly money for 4 days work!!
Even if you're not particular interested in horses, it's a fascinating day out and a real piece of 'olde England'

(for the record, my 3 favourites went for 170,000; 160,000 and 20,000 guineas respectively. G picked out a chestnut which went for 66,000 - I wonder how many will go on to recoup their purchase prices, let alone make a profit, and that's without training fees?)

This blog will strike a chord for Sue of NB No Problem - she used to work in the racing industry here.


  1. What a fascinating day out - I would never have thought of having an outing to a horse auction even though I was horse-mad when I was a little girl - that was before I realised how tall they are in real life!!

    Sue, nb Indigo Dream

  2. I'm told they also do a good lunch, but we had left the dogs asleep in the car so wanted to eat somewhere that was dog friendly. Although G is not 'horsey' he enjoyed it too. It made a really nice change - it's the first day I've had away from the boat since June. Goodness knows what made me think of it.

  3. Wow!! what a brilliant day out, that would never have entered my head, but, you have now sown the seeds for a visit in the future. Something totally unrelated to horses, but related to Newmarket, going back into my family history, (a cousin has got it back as far as the 1390's!!)somewhere in the late 1500's one of my ancesters was the Mayor of Newmarket, now, how about that for a bit of useless information??

    Beardy Chas

    1. So Chas, shall we see you standing for the next mayoral elections at Newmarket?
      By the way, it wasn't just a good day out, it was a FREE day out. I can see you as a racehorse owner actually

  4. It use to be that the auctioneer got the shilling in the pound as commission. I.E. you bought in guineas and the seller was paid in pounds

    1. Brilliant - I never did know why and now I do. Thank you