Sales reports focus on the most expensive lots of the auction, sometimes including a few whose price rose but failed to beat the reserve, or even the occasional expensive buy-back. They talk about aggregates, averages (which are too easily skewed by outliers) and medians (more useful than the mean), hail records and paint the most favourable image possible of the day's trade.
As a feature I wrote for The Irish Times many years ago highlighted ('The Glorious Uncertainty', 4th October 1993, p.30), and as is well-known within the industry, the horses who make the fancy prices in the ring may not be the ones who eventually make headlines on the track.
Often we see Group 1 and even classic stars come from the mid-range of the market or even from its lower end, but nobody really expects those who are led out of the ring unsold for comparatively tiny figures to be remembered by anyone but their connections.
On occasion a notable performer or even a star will emerge from those apparently most insignificant of auction ring offerings and, in 2016, we have seen one of them.
This year's edition of the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot February Sale was a 109-lot auction whose top price was a £23,000 gelded five-year-old by leading National Hunt sire Oscar, and the Lot 8 in the catalogue was a two-year-old great-granddaughter of Danzig (by Northern Dancer) whose dam's record included defeat in a seller.
She was bought back for £1,000. Nearly eight months later her value has soared, her earnings are just short of £200,000, and she is an undefeated winner of the Group 3 Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes over five furlongs at Newmarket.
Mrs Danvers was bred by Mark Burton and Connie Hopper, the Jonathan Portman-trained grey is another talented runner for the Bucklands Farm & Stud stallion Hellvelyn (by Ishiguru) – also sire of Group 3 winner and Group 1 Commonwealth Cup fourth La Rioja – and her pattern success was achieved in juvenile course record time.
She was 33/1 when winning a Lingfield novice median auction race on her debut in mid-June, and odds-on when following that three and a quarter-length success with a two and a quarter-length one at Windsor 15 days later, both on soft ground. She then beat 22 other rivals to take the richly endowed Weatherbys Super Sprint on fast ground at Newbury and followed that, a month later, with a two-length score in the Listed St Hugh's Fillies' Stakes at the same venue.
The one who chased her home at Newmarket was the Group 2-placed listed scorer Clem Fandango, the Group 3 scorers Afandem and Yalta – both carrying 6lbs more than her - were fourth and sixth, and her official handicap mark was raised to 105.
That leaves her with plenty of improvement to make if she is to reach the frame in next year's Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, but this filly has already surpassed expectations, it's not impossible that she will indeed hit the top of her division at three, and no matter how the rest of her racing career turns out, she has already done enough to ensure that she will get good opportunities at stud.
Mrs Danvers is the second foal out of Rebecca De Winter (by Kyllachy) and that mare was better than the earlier comment might make her sound. Yes, she was beaten in a seller and her final start was an unplaced finish in a claimer, but she won a Chester maiden on her second start at two, was beaten by just under five lengths when unplaced in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and was first past the post in a six-furlong Lingfield claimer that November.
The mare is a half-sister to the prolific gelding Izzthatright (by Moss Vale). His victory in the Listed Champion Two Yrs Trophy over six furlongs at Ripon was his third one that season, he added another over seven furlongs at Doha, in Qatar, that December, and went on to win several more races in that country. He was short-headed in a valuable local Group 3 event over six furlongs and has also been a runner-up over a mile.
Their dam, Miss Adelaide (by Alzao), won twice over five furlongs on the artificial track at Wolverhampton, was placed multiple times over six and seven furlongs and was also runner-up in a six-runner maiden over 10 furlongs at Ayr. She hit a peak rating of 80 and retired on 70.
One of her half-brothers, Micks Delight (by Sir Ivor), won three times from a mile to 12 furlongs on the flat but also won twice over hurdles and even a two and a half-mile chase.
Another is Sweet Trentino (by High Estate), who finished with a 34-rating on the turf, 42 on the all-weather, and 75 over hurdles, but won claimers over a mile at Goodwood and Newmarket, a claimer over two and a half miles at Doncaster and a three-mile selling handicap hurdle at Worcester. He even ran in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, although was 200/1 and beaten by 75 lengths.
It is when you look at the next generations of the pedigree, however, that you will find not just a string of blacktype earners but also a popular and prolific gelding whose double-digit tally included races that today carry Group 1 status.
The third dam of Mrs Danvers is Sweet Adelaide (by The Minstrel), she was third in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh as a juvenile, was later a stakes-placed winner in South Africa, and she was a full-sister both to juvenile listed scorer Solaboy and to the pattern-placed 13-times winner New Constitution.
Her half-sister Soiree (by Sadler's Wells) won the Listed Radley Stakes in England as a juvenile and was placed in both the Group 3 Matron Stakes and Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes at three, and their dam was the listed race winner and Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes fourth Seminar (by Don).
That mare produced an outstanding tally of 11 winners from 16 foals, 13 of whom ran, and she, in turn, was among six winners from the 13 foals of Solar Echo (by Solar Slipper). That unplaced mare was a full-sister to the stakes-placed Easter Slipper but is more notable as being the dam of Beresford Stakes winner Sovereign Slipper (by Fortino) and of Boldboy (by Bold Lad USA).
Lady Beaverbrook's star was trained by Dick Hern, he was gelded after finishing fourth in both his starts at two, and went on to become of one of the most popular horses in training over the next seven years.
He won the Greenham Stakes, Prix de la Porte Maillot, Challenge Stakes and Diadem Stakes at three, earning a Timeform rating of 126. At four he won the Lockinge Stakes (TFR 125), at six he took the Waterford Crystal Mile (now Celebration Mile) (TFR 126), and the age of seven he added the Sprint Cup, Duke of York Stakes, and another renewal of the Challenge Stakes (TFR 126). His winning tally also included four editions of the Abernant Stakes, the last of those coming in 1978, at the age of eight.
Mrs Danvers has raced only at five furlongs but is bred to stay six or even seven, and the fact that she has won on both soft ground and fast ground is another plus in her favour. It will be fascinating to see just how good she really is, and this talented daughter of Hellvelyn could be the best that this family has produced since Boldboy.