Sep 25, 2017

What else can be done to „ginger‟ things up?

Jess Glynne at Newbury on Weatherbys Super Sprint Day.
Jess Glynne at Newbury on Weatherbys Super Sprint Day.

The SA sales races might not survive in their present form.

Tattersalls Ireland Ltd at Fairyhouse, a short drive from Dublin Airport, has for its September Yearling Sales one of the few sales races in the UK & Irish market. It is a popular feature of the calendar at The Curragh for both Irish and UK owners of reasonably purchased youngsters.

The Part 1 sale is Economy Class and Premium Economy with a bit of Business Class thrown in. Last week the median rose 20% to €23,000, while the top colt by Showcasing brought €230,000. The top filly by Society Rock cost €160,000.

All graduates qualify for the €300,000 Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sales Sakes – as do the lower priced lots on the third day (Part II) where the median is only €8,000.

In keeping with the motivation of owners and syndicate members, the race provides a Great Day Out, running for €150,000 to the winner and money down to 10th. Broadly speaking, the lower the cost of the horse, the Greater the Day Out, although relatively few Part IIs enter because so many are exported.

The key point: Same as for any sales race, entry is not compulsory. You find out more about your new boy or girl first. If you have a mile and a quarter candidate you wouldn‟t think of paying for a sales race. But if you have a colt or filly looking to be a summer 2 year old thus ready to have a crack at the sales race in September (the equivalent of April in South Africa) you would make the first payment.

Tattersalls Ireland top selling filly by Society Rock.
Tattersalls Ireland top selling filly by Society Rock.

Having bought the yearling in September, you have until 24th January to decide to enter or not. Even then, you only pay the first instalment of €750 with no obligation to go further than the next forfeit in May (€750 if you want to stay in), July (€500) then the final forfeit just before the race (€500). It costs €2,500 to run but you may have dropped out at any forfeit.

Vendors pay nothing towards sales races. They pay the sales company 1.5% commission and an entry fee (after the sale) and that‟s that. The sales company charges all buyers 6%, a cheap Buyers‟ Premium compared to 15-25% at Fine Art, Antiques or Classic Car auctions. (Tattersalls New-market charges vendors 5% but sells in 250 years old Guineas = Pounds + 5% Buyer‟s Premium so vendors actually pay no commission in Pounds).

Tattersalls Ireland sees two dozen owners paying €2,500 plus a very large number paying €750, then a fairly large number paying €500 and so on. Plenty will not pay at all, especially in Part II where so many are exported. The sales company takes the risk of promoting its sale to attract vendors to sell through them and buyers to attend or send their agents.

If overseas owners‟ agents or their equivalents were at a sale in South Africa, buying to race in other countries under normalised quarantines, they would have not the slightest interest in a domestic sales race.

At Cape Premier, where the sales race dates are pushed back to accommodate later developing types, the amounts involved are a small percentage of the purchase prices. You could argue that the buyers do not have to pay a Buyers’ Premium at all, but hypothetically 8% plus 6% Buyer’s Premium would raise eyebrows!

Now, yearlings stay to race in South Africa. The sales races would be a legitimate goal for anyone thinking they are buying the best in the sale, unless sooner exported being international class. But at lower pricing with liberalised protocols and actual export – when we might charter a plane and hoover up a load of lower cost yearlings at considerable benefit to mid-range breeders – a compulsory sales race payment would be unwelcome.

My own view has always been that sales races are best for lower cost horses. Tattersalls Newmarket dropped their “Millions” (for Book 1 – Europe‟s most expensive sale) once the novelty of a few years had worn off, just as Goffs dropped the Cartier Millions a longer time ago. Why would a major owner choose a sales race over (say) an historic Group 2 that would be a stepping stone to stallion-hood? But if he/she does, goes for the cash and wins, is it a turn-on or a turn-off for racing fans and racegoers? Meanwhile Tatts introduced a new race for Book 3. Good move.

Tattersalls introduced their excellent Book 1 bonus instead. A bonus of £25,000 is paid to the Book 1 graduate winner of ANY Class 2,3 or 4 juvenile maiden or novice in the UK and of ANY Open Maiden in Ireland. This form of Added Stakes can be “entered” voluntarily by owners at any time up to March, having bought in October at a cost of £1,500. Why wouldn‟t you? But it is voluntary. A probable non-starter at 2? Export?

As to what might “ginger up” the maiden racing scene in SA? Owners of lower cost horses in UK are well served with many “Auction Maidens” and “Median Maidens” for 2 year olds.

The former are for horses that cost less than a certain figure (different for each such race). The latter are for the progeny of stallions of which the median sales price in the appropriate sales year was below a certain figure (also varied). In both of these ways, the progeny of the top sires are legitimately dodged. Wouldn‟t it be nice to run sometimes in maidens with-out Silvanos, Trippis and Dynastys?

Tattersalls Ireland Sales Complex.
Tattersalls Ireland Sales Complex.

That would dissipate the narrow focus on a few stallions at sales, wouldn‟t it?

Voluntary schemes like Plus 10 for which a small payment is made at foal, yearling and purchase to race stage, offer bonuses for horses whose connections have qualified them. Nothing to do with sales compa-nies. Many breeders are drawing the conclusion that it makes little difference. If a buyer wants that horse, he or she wants that horse, never mind bells and whistles.

Mind you the culture is totally different in UK. If a 2 year old has not won a maiden in three attempts, he or she gets a handicap mark and moves into nurseries i.e. handicaps for 2 year olds where the youngster would be competitive. Why would you run again in maidens against a never ending stream of horses rated higher? Especially at 3.

My closest friends in SA got fed up with me asking about running in handicaps after getting a Merit Rating so I stopped. They explained why it is not done in South Africa. Pity.

Two valuable UK sales races – for lower cost runners – are not allied to a particular sale. The Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury in July is for yearlings or breezers costing less than about £50,000 at any recognised sale, with weight allotted according to actual price. The Totepool Redcar 2YO Trophy (also for graduates of any sale) in October has weights allotted according to the median price achieved by the sire of runners. Both are very popular targets. – tt.