The 2009 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale countdown has begun and BloodStock South Africa will be more than hopeful that the local market remains strong enough to weather a global economic crisis as deep and dire as the Great Depression.

In stark contrast to earlier yearling sales held in the Southern Hemisphere, where double-digit declines have been the order of the day, results at the GrandWest Yearling Sale proved more than encouraging, with the average showing an increase 9% on last year’s total.

That said, BloodStock South Africa has catalogued the cream of the 2007 foal crop, a total of 596 yearlings, which will go through the TBA sales ring at Germiston from April 3 to 6.

The decision to do away with the contentious ‘green pages’, the so-called Select Session, has been welcomed by consignors and trainers alike. Many felt that the green pages set up a false market at the start of the sale, with major buyers not returning or ignoring the non-select yearlings, and the general feeling has been that buyers will now stay for the duration of the sale. The concept of a select sale has also outlived its purpose, as witnessed in the US, where Keeneland’s July sale was abolished when many of the major vendors opted to send their better yearlings to the marathon September Sale. Likewise, major English auction house Tattersalls has done away with its select Highflyer Sale.

International buying support contributed heavily to 2008’s record-breaking sale. Barry Irwin of international racing outfit Team Valor described it as “the best value thoroughbred sale in the world. You would pay roughly twice the price for any foal at sales elsewhere in the world.”

Once again, a high percentage of the yearlings on offer boast international bloodlines, added to which there is a fine cross-section of international proven stallions represented at this year’s sale, all of which should appeal to the most discerning international buyer.

Over the past twelve months, the sale has received a fillip thanks to the exploits of a slew of graduates, ten of which won at Gr.1 level and were purchased as yearlings from as little as R25,000 for Gold Cup hero Desert Links (in 2005), Gypsy’s Warning (R170,000 in 2007), Russian Sage (R450,000 in 2006), Urabamba (R475,000 in 2006), Buy And Sell (R300,000 in 2005), Rudra (R375,000 in 2006), Kings Gambit (R600,000 in 2006), Wendywood (R800,000 in 2006), On Her Toes (R800,000 in 2007) to R1.8million for Warm White Night (2007).

No less than 131 stakes winning mares are represented, 24 of which are Gr.1 winners. The catalogue features siblings to 32 Gr.1 winners including Russian Sage (by Dynasty), On Her Toes (by Spectrum), Disappear (by Kahal), O Caesour (by Rakeen), Diamond Quest (by Saumarez), Consensual (by Spectrum) and Mother Russia (by Dupont).