Frankel lives! And other breaking stallion news – Turf Talk: 30 April 2018

Apr 30, 2018

Frankel in bronze at Ascot but very much alive at stud.

Frankel in bronze at Ascot but very much alive at stud.

LAST week, this column ran under the headline ‘Getting the sires list in order before export freedom’. It was a frustrated exposé of the embarrassing (or to some of our welcome respondents, hilarious) inaccuracy of the NHRA Sires Lists.

The headline that I suggested we could have used was SOUTH AFRICA DECLARES FRANKEL DEAD (OR UNREGISTERED).

With appreciation and great relief regarding our South African credibility abroad, I am pleased to report that the NHRA has responded to the challenge of the column’s last paragraph and corrected the entire sires list.

FRANKEL and all those dead or unregistered super sires abroad have gained an extra asterisk and are alive!

I can see one or two minor questions but this is not the time to go public on minutiae. Credit where credit is due. The NHRA has acted and we no longer have to hide the sires table from overseas eyes. We can refer foreigners to it and be comfortable. It was scary, but it isn’t any more.

Ah yes! Those foreigners. At the risk of using a sledgehammer to crack the nut of indifference or even xenophobia in South African bloodstock, for Heaven’s sake grab hold of the few bloodstock people in SA with current overseas experience – whatever passport.

This is not quite the Churchillian “Never in the history of… owed so much to so few” but the few can help quickly and efficiently (and apolitically) at a time when we must ready ourselves and be better in many areas: not only the export protocols themselves. Administratively, data processing and commercial consultancy.

We have dealt with stud book issues here at length, but commercially the overseas buyers who contributed so much at NYS last week were, mostly, already familiar with South African bloodstock. Perfect! But there will be others and the industry as a whole must be ready for them and their very different ways.

screenshot from the nha website

If we get an influx of “new” overseas interest, it will come with few preconceptions about producers although inevitably will graduate towards the very small number of SA “names” known abroad.

But why not to other players in SA who may not be known overseas? Research, if going beyond those “names”, will rely more on publicly available or directly promoted data. Or perhaps a familiar professional face.

Now let’s talk about something else.

Much has been written about last week’s National Yearling Sale. Much of it positive, deserved and a shot in the arm for the industry and sport.

International participation at Session 1 was strong. Therefore it follows that if we are to receive further shots in the arm in the form of domestic economic confidence and export freedoms, there is already a solid platform from which to base a return to profitable breeding for more breeders than are currently achieving that basic requirement.

Session 2 had a “spill-over” from Session 1 on Day 2 – not dissimilar to Tattersalls Book 2 yearlings doing very well early in the week following Book 1, where some buyers do not “get bought” and work Book 2 until they do “get bought”.

Later lots on NYS Day 3 may have been at a disappointing disadvantage, but no doubt the strategists at the sales company will review all of that.

As ever, the distribution of Sire-Power is fascinating and determines to an extent the demand for this or that stallion in the subsequent breeding seasons.

This column has rattled on about the market being “Sire-Centric”. That syndrome – having a high percentage of demand focusing on a narrow band of a few sires – is self- perpetuating as long as the few desirable sires keep producing.

Sales companies are encouraged to offer many yearlings sired by a few stallions. Understandably they wish to develop good medians, thus selecting “reliable” sires for inclusion. Any scoring system is, by arithmetical and statistical definition, going to favour the successful few.

So the question is: when the top 3 or 4 or 5 stallions depending on your point of view are no longer producing, will they be replaced by a new top 3 or 4 or 5 or will there be a broader view?

There is an industry opportunity here to help buying agents (mostly but not entirely trainers) to coach their owners into being happy about all sorts of sires, based on judgement of the individual and page.

I can’t help saying that if there were a layer of agents/consultants, the over-stretched trainers would get a lot of help anyway.

Budgets can be made to fit superbly made yearlings if not by the super sexy sires which are, after all, only a layer on top of the all-important female line.

In NYS Session 1, 4 sires had averages higher than the sale average of R582,193.

12 Sires (with minimum 5 offerings) averaged less than the sale average. If including all sires of Session 1 yearlings, 23 sires averaged below the average.

The 4 above average selling sires were Dynasty, Captain Al, Silvano and… Vercingetorix. Welcome Vercingetorix. How exciting is that!

Vercingetorix - in the top 4 averaging sellers at Session, NYS.

Vercingetorix – in the top 4 averaging sellers at Session, NYS.

Those 4 accounted for 66 of the 209 lots available or 31.5% of Session 1. Now calculate the Weighted Average.

What did this look like in Session 2 – the part that affects the grass roots breeding industry most? 6 sires of minimum 5 yearlings made more than the sale average. (14 if you allow all sires). 14 sires of minimum 5 achieved less than the sale average. (25 sires below the line if allowing sires of any number).

This already looks broader. Silvano, Dynasty and the enterprising Kingsbarns were the top three in Session 2 but with only 3/3/1 yearlings each. Twice Over, who had a tough time in Session 1, was the leader in Session 2 amongst sires of double figures yearlings with other prolific sires Querari, Master of my Fate and Ideal World also out-performing the sale average.

Those below in this category – What A Winter, Vercingetorix, Visionaire, Elusive Fort for example – were not below by much.

In fact the concertina of stallion performance in Session 2 is demonstrated by the sale average being not very much more than the sale medi-an. Always a good sign! -tt.