David Allan, a champion for the South African cause – Turf Talk: 2 September 2016

“We need to gather together bright young industry minds and get them to give their input. We need to create activity, business and careers and international interaction to sustain the industry going forward… ”


HERE is a shortened profile on leading bloodstock agent David Allan of Allan Bloodlines, who will be writing a weekly column for the Turf Talk Newsletter. Our thanks to Sporting Post for use of this writing, edited to suit.


David Allan is a bloodstock consultant and manager, also an owner and breeder in South Africa.


He has been involved in the local racing industry for approaching 15 years. He is kind and affable, but is very serious when it comes to his dedication to safeguarding and developing South Africa’s presence in the global market.


David spends roughly six months in the UK and six months in South Africa and says: “I’ve always been passionate about South Africa. There’s a special energy about the place and I’m happy to have the opportunity to be involved here. It’s my home from home.”


He tells: “My wife Yoshi and I own 15 broodmares in the Cape, 12 outright and 3 in partnership. I directly manage another 20 for overseas mare owners here and consult for others. I also manage a portfolio of six stallions, which I?m both passionate and cold-bloodedly optimistic about.” His stallion roster includes Gitano Hernando, Where’s That Tiger, Elusive Fort, Lateral, Alado and the newly launched Fencing Master.


David, supported by pedigree and stud book expert Judy Brannigan who also breeds here, recently published “Thoroughbred Thoughts” highlighting in public a number of issues that should be high on every racing and breeding stakeholder’s agenda. In it, he tackles issues including the current sales schedule, the lack of a next generation – of racing professionals, not just fans – and despairs at why the local industry continues to be inward-looking.


All of these have one underlying factor in common – for the South African Thoroughbred industry to continue developing in a progressive manner, in line with current accepted international standards.


The Blue Book
Perhaps the best place to start is David and Judy’s concern for our Part 1 status in the International Horseracing Federation’s Blue Book, also known as the International Cataloguing Standards Book. The book was established in 1981 and is maintained by the International Race Planning Advisory Committee (IRPAC), in conjunction with the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA). Racing countries
were divided into 4 parts, with the world’s major racing countries classified as Part I and lesser jurisdictions given Part II or Part III status and Part IV covering jumps racing.


A Part I country’s racing activity has to be deemed of sufficient stature in terms of number of horses competing, number of races contested, and purse monies distributed, to justify their classification as being among the world’s major racing countries. Catalogues will show their Group/Grade 1 races as Gr.1. That is not the case with Part 2/3 countries, with the exception of some races that are internationally contested.


South Africa was accorded Part I status in October 1985, a classification it still holds alongside Argentina,
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, the UAE and the USA.


“Twenty to twenty-five years ago, Japan did not feature as a major player. Now they breed some of the best
horses in the world and are solid Part I players.


“South Africa’s Part 1 status should be regarded as an industry asset and protected for the sake of the
industry as a whole.


“It’s something to be conscious of and not taken for granted. Imagine what would happen if we lost our
Part I status and then the export protocols were sorted out?” he asks.


His activities when overseas are largely chanelled to exactly that effort through e-mailings tailored for overseas readership about South Africa and many regular conversations at northern hemisphere sales, on racecourses and training grounds.


He is widely recognised as a “South Africa link” and has brought substantial overseas investment into breeding here as well as introducing owners through CPYS purchasing and small shares in racehorses.


“Some exciting high priced purchasing in Europe is of course taking place. My goal is to prepare for more
mid-range two-way cross trading in breeding stock”.


“Fortunately we are making strides with AHS, so with a bit of luck, things will change and when the markets open up, we want to be in that swim, but that will require us to do some planning and ensure that we keep growing and developing over the next 5-10 years.”

david allan and his wife yoshi at royal scott

David Allan and his wife, Yoshie, at Royal Ascot.

Sales in a shrinking market.


“To me the main message here is shrinkage – of owners, breeders, sales prices and the South African market in general. That’s something we need to guard against in order to maintain the health of our industry and our share in the global market.”


He has some thoughts on how to achieve this. “There is universal agreement that we have far too many yearling sales and with sales companies vying for custom with generous socialising opportunities, we are diluting their core function. Having all these sales dates inevitably means clashes with other international events as was evidenced recently with BSA and CTS having newly scheduled sales to clash with York, Tattersalls Yearlings and Tattersalls Foals.


“We don’t need any more than four yearling sales and my suggestion would be firstly the CPYS – vendors have learned how to prepare for it, it is an elite sale and a logistical masterpiece and if the likes of Coolmore and the China Horse Club support it in partnerships, that can only be a good sign.


“Then a single Cape March sale – not both Val de Vie and CTS. It has to be a regional sale, but without sales race expenses attached. Most trainers need to buy on a budget, and regional sales are a good way to address the middle section of the market. Those are the sort of horses that keep the smaller owners in the game, they fill fields and very often, they win races. Keep the compulsory sales race expenses out and the
sale will flourish.”


Next on his list is a single sale in Johannesburg. “I don’t mind who manages the sale – whether it be TBA in its new phase, CTS or even a coalition, but surely the figures show that one consolidated sale, not two fragmented ones is logical.” And then lastly, “a combination of KZN Yearlings and the TBA 2 year old sale rolled together.”


“We have a limited population and as statistics bear out, there is constant slippage. We lack a new generation, not just racing fans, but layers of young professionals coming up through the ranks. We need to gather together bright young industry minds and get them to give their input.