EMPERORS PALACE READY TO RUN SALE
Inanda Club, Sandton, South Africa
Sunday 18 October 2015
The bare numbers from Sunday’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale were a mirror image of the state of the local economy, with a strong upper end, a muddled middle, and a tough lower end. Like racehorse sales the world over, the wealthy are impervious to the vagaries of financial meltdowns, and our old adage of “one rich man doing what he has to do to beat another” was in excellent health yesterday; four of our lots made in the vicinity of a million plus, with our top lot at R2million. There were some spectacular sales at the upper end, and some very solid returns in the R400,000 to R700,000 bracket, if you had the right horse. The Visionaires were especially strong in this department, while all of Brave Tin Soldier, Golden Sword and A.P. Arrow posted sales around the half-million-rand mark. Especially encouraging is the on-going appreciation of the market for the first crop of Golden Sword, who was firm in the R150,000 to R475,000 bracket.
The real economy however is not like that, and it’s clear that many of the smaller trainers are having difficulty finding enough owners to support the R100,000 to R300,000 market; the result is that if you’ve got a horse in that bracket, it can be like playing Russian roulette. There might be little separating two horses but for the particular fancy of a person who wants one of them, while the other suffers the indignity of a sales orphan. With any sale, even in buoyant times, there are the odd disappointments, but in a thin market, they occur more frequently, so that our feelings in the aftermath of a sale like this range between agony and ecstasy. It remains a buyer’s market, and they’ve never been more sensitive to the fashion waves that characterise the luxury goods business, always eager to latch on to the “next best thing,” but quick to forget the significance of the tried-and-tested “old hand” or the fresh potential of a former racing star’s debut crop.
One thing this sale has demonstrated though, is the virtue of mating your mares properly, not always for the height of fashion, but with a view to getting a good-looking horse that can run; fashion as we know, is a fickle mistress, hot one month and dishwater the next. The Ready To Run is the only platform in the racing world that respects the prowess of a good athlete, whoever his parents.
For those who pulled off a big deal, well done; to those who suffered disappointment, we can only console ourselves with one indisputable fact, and that is that there are far fewer foals being bred every year than there used to be, and inevitably that means the supply and demand equation will move in favour of producers sooner or later. It still sounds a long way off we know, but we only need a few signs of an improving economy and the optimism which is a constant characteristic of our sport, will quickly reward those who’ve been patient. It’s always been thus, and racing has always been the first to bounce back; by its very nature, it’s a game for winners, and they never need much encouragement to see the green shoots, which by definition means they are the last to lose faith as well. Surely, it can’t be long now.
To those who made the trek to Sandton to bid on our consignment and to those vendors who entrusted that task to us, 'Thank You'; it’s a compliment to know that so many people did. At the same time, I must pay my respects to the remarkable team here that “prepped” this draft; they could not have done a better job. It’s one of life’s privileges to rise with the early dawn and go to work with professionals of this calibre.