11 Hour selling days – New Markets- Selling below production costs – And how many yearlings in SA: Turf Talk: 21 October 2019

THE light begins to go at the pre-selling parade. (Racingpost.com) 



THE light begins to go at the pre-selling parade. (Racingpost.com)

Lot 2083 signalled a marathon’s end on Saturday afternoon. Lot 1 had gone through 11 days beforehand at the start of Tattersalls Yearling Sales which followed hot on the heels of a couple of selling weeks across the Irish Sea.

These notes, however, will not dwell on Books 1 and 2 that generated the equivalent of 3 billion rand in turnover. But on Book 3 in which the prices are at entirely familiar levels to most South African buyers, even with the weak rand. In fact, during the sale, the pound strengthened on the prospect of an actual Brexit to more than R19 which – in alternative currencies – gave buyers from around the world a moment’s pause, but still kept the top Book 3 price to around R3,000,000. More to the point – the median was R200,000 for some very nice horses.

Many of the broad range of British and other Book 1 buyers of the ”naughties” have gone. All sorts of reasons could be cited, but one above all: so many people took such a bashing after Lehmann Brothers, or “The Banking Crisis” of 2008/9 and so many have simply not recovered. Much the same could be said for many national economies. Life just ain’t the same as when the banks would finance any fantasy.

Now we see several Middle Eastern buyers prop up the yearling market to a large extent, mostly to race in England. Nobody complains, even if it does make yearling selling akin to Russian Roulette. The thoroughbred racehorse is the 7th (or someone corrected me and said 8th now) employer of people in the UK and a lot of the funding for that (generally first class) employment comes from those same sources within major operations in Newmarket and elsewhere.

Even in Book 3, Rabbah Bloodstock – an under-wing operation of Godolphin running horses for relatives, friends, acolytes – bought 14, by no means all by Darley’s own sires.

AllanBloodlines bought 15. But for less money . It is a lot more difficult to buy winners at smaller prices, than to buy the obvious ones right?

The sires of our future overseas stars won’t all roll off the South African reader’s tongue, but could be more familiar in a more fluid future:

-Australia (Galileo) ex Le Havre mare;
-Belardo (Lope de Vega) x 2 – a Birdstone mare, and a Bahhare mare;
-Teofilo (Galileo) – Lord Shanakill mare;
-Vadamos (Monsun) x 2 – Selkirk and King’s Best mares;
-Shalaa (Invincible Spirit) – Galileo mare;
-French Navy (the son of Shamardal standing at Kildangan = Godolphin Ireland, not the SA runner of the same name) – High Chaparral mare;
-Bated Breath (Dansili), (the excellent Juddmonte sire not the filly of the same name running in South Africa and who let that through?) – Teofilo mare;
-Free Eagle (High Chaparral) – Cape Cross mare;
-Fountain of Youth (Oasis Dream) – Dr Fong mare;
-Mukhadram (Shamardal) – Azamour mare;
-Bobby’s Kitten (Kitten’s Joy) – Hard Spun mare;
-Harzand (Sea the Stars) – Dansili mare;
-Gregorian (Clodovil) – Dr Fong mare.

Some of these were above the median, but many not – although (I hope!) nice. Many, not all, sold for less than the sire’s covering fee but I would have bought several of them to race in England, therefore (hypothetically) to race in South Africa, even if they would have to run when 3 not 2. (Most of these particular selections have stamina much admired in the destination country, therefore we would choose differently for SA. Hong Kong does not object to Southern Hemisphere yearlings because 2 year old racing is not required. The reverse would have to be true).

South Africa will not be buying shed loads of northern bred yearlings to run at 3 down south – but some would suit. Hey! Might we actually need them in South Africa?

2016 “SAF” foals registered ca. 3200. 2017 foals ca. 2500. 2018 foals 1446 so far registered (per Racing Calendar) with no doubt some still to come but how many? These are the foals we are now entering for three 2020 sales that catalogued 977 in 2019. Then – given the withdrawal from covering in 2019 by so many owners of so many mares – how many to be born in 2020 for 2022 sales?  Cover mares!



In from the cold for some bidding. (Tattersalls.com)

If some readers are inspired to have a go in Book 3 in the future, don’t expect tables heaving with food and drink, or a sheltered environment with drinks allowed as you watch the ring.

Thursday was a typical sort of Book 3 day. Selling 1000 until 2115, over 11 hours on your feet and on the move, repeated for other days, adding up to sore backs/shoulders/hips. No wonder most buyers stay home and use their consultants, receiving reports/pictures if time and so on.

Having insufficient time to see these lower cost yearlings as they come into stabling during the latter part of Book 2, we watch every yearling in the walking ring that could be of interest, pulling him or her out for a close look if we wish. The inspection area off the parade ring swarms with people. It is a colossal tribute to baby horses, preparers and handlers that more people are not kicked or killed.

It is crucial to check histories with the consigner before going into the ring in a quick, coded exchange between people who know each other, or they know who we are. Or speak to the odd one who wouldn’t lie straight in bed and take a leap. We always wind test (yearlings) on the lunge after Fall of Hammer anyway, until when the purchase is not confirmed.

Late night selling at Tattersalls. (Tattersalls.com)



Late night selling at Tattersalls. (Tattersalls.com)

In addition to the British, Irish and regular overseas buyers (including our own Kazakhstan team), buyers from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Serbia made well selected purchases to which hefty transport costs must be added. There is a calculation to be made for SA buyer/importers.

In the other direction, after SA “exports” are cleared to the EU, opportunities for direct exports to other countries will be enhanced. If we do have enough horses in South Africa, emerging markets must not be ignored and the focus must be on cost-effective flying. – tt.