The management of Sales proximity – Turf Talk: 21 August 2017

An AllanBloodlines investor yearling by Dark Angel consigned by Baroda and Colbinstown Stud to Tattersalls Book 1.

An AllanBloodlines investor yearling by Dark Angel consigned by Baroda and Colbinstown Stud to Tattersalls Book 1.

AFTER a lengthy process, there are no longer any pairs of yearling sales in a single location in South Africa within a few days of each other. One of one pair has gone completely, and the other pair is well separated. However, the proximity in date (but not location) of the CTS new April sale and the National Yearling Sale has caused much comment on and around last week’s sale ground.

Farms (that generally do their own consigning in South Africa) have a fixed workforce that cannot be divided amongst horses selling in the Cape at the same time as others are being travelled to Johannesburg for their relatively long stays there before selling. “We can’t do both”, is the cry.

The smart reaction to that is “What’s the problem? Employ part-time showing staff!” Which is fine if such staff are available and reliable, which perhaps they are not. Having said that, there are hundreds of horsey young folks on Facebook in South Africa and some of them might fancy some pocket money having been schooled in the finer points of showing a young thoroughbred expertly. Just as it is overseas, this work with proper training can be the route into the thoroughbred industry for young people – and not so young.

The biggest special South African characteristic is the enormous length of time that the horses spend stabled, needing walking and other tending at the Germiston complex. It takes just as long to send a yearling from Ireland to Newmarket, but they arrive much closer to selling.

I of course do not subscribe to “Why not do it this or that or the other way?” immediately – when in Rome and all that. But some way down the line, perhaps the consignment company concept will work, as well as being a conduit for new people.

In South Africa, AllanBloodlines had a three year contract to help a consignor grow. At one sale, we showed no less than 75 youngsters with a squad from the farm, from local sources and with temporary showing managers from Zim, from Ireland, locally and ourselves. Tracking the inspections of that lot took some doing but we ended up with bar charts for each horse and a good clue as to what might happen when running – quite often – three or four consecutive lots through the ring whilst briefing auctioneers.

That is very unusual and may be overdoing the disciplines, but two or three of the people who learned on that job have never looked back.

Around seventy percent of yearlings in the northern hemisphere are not sold by the farm where they have been raised. Thirty something percent are sold by consignment companies.

Another Consignment company Jamie Railton prepping yearlings (left); yearling colt by Cape Cross from the Castle Bridge consignment (right).

Another Consignment company Jamie Railton prepping yearlings (left); yearling colt by Cape Cross from the Castle Bridge consignment (right).

Another thirty something percent are sold by foal pinhookers, the breeder having sold as weanlings.

Where we base the mares we have in Ireland, we (and the farm) generally sell foals (= weanlings). The farm uses a couple of home staff and freelance showing people. Such people are experts and make most of their money showing at various sales. Many also go to USA in between European sales (and vice versa) and to Australasia in the opposite season – also vice versa.

Some foals are simply not Foal-Sales-Foals. So either the farm consigns as yearlings in Ireland or they go to a consignment company for England. Ireland has far larger production than UK and 70% of what is sold in UK is bred in Ireland.

Having sales close to each other is not an issue. In the case of yearlings, the whole idea is to have as short a yearling selling season as possible so that yearling prep also remains a seasonal exercise for which youngsters coming into the game can be employed for a few months to help out. Many CVs show this activity.

The industry wants to get yearlings done so as to move on to foals and breeding stock which are mostly dealt with in later November/early December.

ArqanaYearlings – already started – sells extremely early in late August – the equivalent of late March in South Africa. Goffs UK (was Doncaster Bloodstock) is also soon – with a preponderance of precocious individuals of mixed pedigree. But the majority of yearlings are sold in a block of 7 sales / 3 companies running more or less consecutively from 19th September until 14th October (the equivalent in SA of April/May).

3,481 yearlings are catalogued in that 25 day spread. The earlier sales in this run are in Ireland. Then England.

The job of work is to show them for up to a couple of days before the sale starts. When sold, they move out by a predetermined time of day and are replaced by incomers to be sold as the sale weeks wear on. Typically, inspectors will do the first selling day’s first, then the next, then the next and so on. Showing staff must cover the continuous showing job while representatives of their consignment are being taken through the ring.

At Tattersalls Books 2 and 3 (9th-14th October) selling from 10am into the evening or from 0930 for Book 3, agents who do most of the buying may have the first two days almost done by the start of the sale but do the rest during selling. First and second looks carry on regardless, interrupted by rushing into the ring when necessary from, sometimes, nearly 10 minutes away. Coordination of vettings must be very quick. Spotters and Assistants are essential!

Please refer to grid above.

For demonstration purposes, I have picked out the 2017 yearling numbers of four Irish based consignors including the huge Castlebridge operation which also has a UK farm. Consignment companies would typically have yearlings for up to about 6 weeks.

Baroda & Colbinstown Stud is the trading name for two farms working in consignment in tandem in County Kildare. Two of our yearlings for Tatts Newmarket Book 2 moved to Baroda a few days ago. Between that company, ourselves and the raising farm, we lobby the sales companies for optimum slots (by mutual agreement) during a sale.

The Castlebridge Consignment was created by Bill Dwan who spotted a niche and grew the business to rival the big USA equivalents. In Europe it would be hard to find as large a contingent of professional presenters of thoroughbreds. Marshalling valuable baby stock being shown snappily at maybe ten locations around their stable blocks is a major undertaking.

Yeomanstown, a fully farming dynasty of O’Callaghans, does everything – sell foals, pinhooks foals, sells pinhooked and bred yearlings, and they stand the top man Dark Angel amongst several sires. – tt.