Case Study

Yearling Sales – Do the Figures Add Up?

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The start of each year is sales season in the racing industry. Magic Millions on the Gold Coast kicks off the buying and selling with Inglis’ Classic, and New Zealand’s Karaka sales not far behind. Not to mention the Inglis Easter Yearling Sales just around the corner and every other sales taking place around Australia, seemingly every week. And it makes for interesting reading.

Whilst they may seem like big bucks and extravagant spending, it’s not all beer and skittles for everyone involved. A lot of hard work goes in behind the scenes from the vendors, buyers, sellers and the staff involved with each of these parties.

The Magic Millions saw up to 1,000 lots auctioned off with a total of $87 million being spent. Gai Waterhouse played a big part in these sales (as usual) and one can only wonder what will happen to the Magic Millions sales when the great lady calls it a day.

Waterhouse’s spend was $8.3 million across 41 lots at an average of $203,000 and interestingly her syndicators – both old and new – spent up big as well. Waterhouse recently parted ways with Star Thoroughbreds who spent $2.5 million across 20 lots at an average of $127,000 while her new syndication group, Round Table Racing, splurged $2 million across 15 lots at an average of $137,000.

Similarly at New Zealand’s Premier Yearling sale, David Ellis spent up big with his 34 lots taking him to the $6 million mark, at an average of $177,000. The Inglis Classic is renowned for its ‘bargain buys’ and that sale saw 378 (of 480) lots go under the hammer for $13 million in spend at an average of $35,000.

But do you have to spend big money at these sales to win big?

A quick look back at the Group One races for the two-year-olds last year showed that none actually came from the sales. Miracles of Life (Blue Diamond), Overreach (Golden Slipper), Guelph (Sires and Champagne) and Romantic Touch (JJ Atkins) were all retained by the breeder. Granted it’s only a small sample it but makes for interesting reading nonetheless.

On the flip side there are plenty of stories where cheap buys have made it big. There’s none bigger than Takeover Target but more recently a horse like Polanksi – who won the VRC Derby – shows that you don’t have to spend big to win big. It cost $4,000 which was split up by a group of friends and has amassed $1.1 million in just nine starts. Again, we are talking about a minor example but it shows it’s not impossible and maybe spending big isn’t the way to go.

Yes prize money in New South Wales and around Australia is increasing and very strong in comparison to around the world but when you look at it an ‘average’ Saturday metro win (in Sydney) it is $48,750, at the provincials it’s $12,250 and on the country circuit it is $8,200. And statistics show that not every horse wins in town on a Saturday.

So have a chat to your trainer(s) and get involved in the buying process. Ask for what they look at, or why they like a particular horse. The worse thing that can happen is that you might learn something, but the best? Well, you might nail yourself a bargain buy. Good Luck!

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