A look at Lower Level Yearling Sales – Turf Talk: 22 October 2018
IN the cauldron of intensity that is Tattersalls Yearling Sales, it would be unlikely – on the Sunday when it is all over – to have room in the head for anything else to write about.
It’s true that 30,000 people attended Ascot for “Champions Day” to see what turned out to be the final races (and victories) of the 4 year old Cracks-man and the 3 year old Roaring Lion, the former loving the autumnal Soft and the latter hating it but bravely overcoming its effect on his action.
But other people have written all about that, so let’s look at the yearling sales but from the bottom, and not at the top.
Lot 2097 at the end of Book 4 brought just over two weeks of continuous inspecting and selling to a close.
The resilient circus of agents and managers plus owners, investors and trainers rushing in and out had already “done” two weeks in Ireland at Tatter-salls Ireland and Goffs, with Goffs UK (aka Doncaster) and Arqana having happened earlier.
The average in Book 1 was nearly 100 times the average in Book 4. Needless to say, many people who attend Book 4 do not attend Book 1 and vice versa. Book 1’s fireworks have been widely report-ed. Book 4’s spluttering fizzle has not, but it has a purpose in the sense of a sales company serving breeder clients as well as they can.
Last year, we made the very first purchases in the UK for the country of Kyrgyzstan, with its new 12 million US Dollar racecourse adding to the track in the capital Bishkek. Commentary on the Kyrgyz situation has been given in an earlier column to be found in the archive (10th September) on the link http://www.allanbloodlines.com/downloads.php
So we shan’t go on about that now, other than to summarise that in that (mini) Book 4 of 2017 only around 38 sold and we bought about a quarter of them. Not for commission gain, but as part of a project to help build up a newly emerging racing nation. With one exception they have all won at least once and have their 3 year old years yet to come.
This job is very difficult and just as laborious as when identifying purchases such as for individual owners and our UK syndicates in Books 2&3 and their equivalents at other sales.
For Central Asia, sprinters are definitely not wanted, so we can knock out a lot of the catalogue straight away based on the page. Then, given the budgetary constraints, the trick is to check everything remaining for something buyable that will run.
Most “smaller” racing countries – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Czech Republic, Serbia and so on – go for low cost Horses in Training rather than yearlings, so it is “quite something” to bring in a new buying country to hoover up lesser yearlings of adequate quality.
This year, we did not need Book 4. Book 3 has become “Everyman’s” source of trainers’ horses and – sadly for their breeders – a lot of low cost yearlings of fair merit. Books 1 and 2 are very “hot” with anything decent inevitably having a good-to-stratospheric pedigree and being good-to-gorgeous physically. So we worked very hard to find a truck load at lower cost that had nevertheless qualified physically for Book 3.
We broke some vendors’ hearts. A stunning filly that frankly I would have recommended for racing in England at around 15-20,000 cost 3,000 guineas because her sire had “fallen off a cliff” in terms of desirability. Yet we have had good success with that sire (fee too high at £12,000) in England and the Middle East. Now in Central Asia we hope.
Those vendors have built that family but fell victim to sire-centricity. However please don’t have too much sympathy. As a consignment company, they sold a Kodiac filly for exactly 200 times that price in Book 1.
For other reasons too, sympathy for the breeders/vendors may be limited.
There is absolutely no excuse for sending a yearling that is underdone i.e. not worked, fed and generally prepped in a proper programme. Yet some do it. Of course we can see through it or round it, but the end-user (owner) of that budding racehorse is going to have to understand what catch up feeding and work will be necessary before pressing on.
“Underdone” is one thing. Serious incorrectness is another. Let’s take “turning out” (of a forefoot, let’s say at the “ankle” not from the knee) as an example. Of course, a few degrees of turning out one or the other (not both) can be tolerated and indeed be knowingly allowed to happen, but there is little excuse these days for presenting anything that turns out significantly.
In the Book 4 situation, you do find them. That may be a question of either budget or quite rare incompetence. If dealt with gently at the foal stage, a stud farrier can usually fix “turning out” without compromising strength or athleticism or the meeting of the growth plates. Now there is far less evidence of significant correction than in days gone by.
Much correction is achieved by pinning. I can’t quote figures off the cuff but loads of Irish foals are pinned at a cost of around €1,000. The pin goes in, the offending joint is thus influenced and the pin is taken out.
The “chat” amongst vets and stud people is that pinning, where appropriate, has substantially replaced periosteal stripping.
The difference in standard between Books 3 and 4 is easily visible, therefore an elision of the two wouldn’t work.
Book 4 is pretty awful, but is a means of serving breeders who [maybe should not] breed these ani-mals. Grading within Books 1&2, then 3, then plummeting to 4 is generally very well executed.
Now – this year – the same sales company is refusing a large number of foal sales entries due to over production and doing so on criteria such as sire centricity. The observation “This will eliminate Book 4 yearlings” is not at all appropriate. The refusals are made without inspection.
The rival UK sales company (Goffs UK aka Doncaster) has popped up with a new foal (and horses in training) sale on 7th December and may be about to offer pinhookers some very nice rejects. – tt.