EMPERORS PALACE SELECT YEARLING SALE
Emperors Palace | Johannesburg | 18 April 2015
First they pioneered inner city sales, now in the shape of the Emperors Palace Select Yearling Sale, Cape Thoroughbred Sales have conducted the world's first "inner hotel" auction of racehorses, a surreal affair in the heart of a transformed garden unrecognisable even to those of us who know it so well.
Whether you thought you were in Venice or the Okavango, a cantilevered stage decked out in a sparkling mirage of the sponsor''s black and gold over the hotel's swimming pool, set the scene for something which, whatever happened from kick off to finish, promised that horse sales would never be quite the same again.
Remember, when CTS went to the market for subscribers, the catalogue for this event was compromised by the fact that entries for the sales company's Book One and the TBA's National Yearling Sale were already in. It says something then, for the organisers and the depth of breeders' offerings, that they were able to conjure a sale which while not quite matching the dizzying heights of the Cape version, nonetheless yielded an average of R414,019 for its 107 lots; that figure stands comparison with the best results of the "Nationals", when it enjoyed a monopoly on the nation's first choice candidates a few years ago.
And given that the carrot dangled under the noses of vendors to ensure the subscription of the catalogue, included a guarantee of a R50million minimum turnover (after some 20 withdrawals, they still managed R44.3million), you can add another 10% plus to vendors' receipts; the success of this opening salvo will underwrite a deep book for 2016.
Which begs the question, where will they be accommodated if that's the case? The answer is, never underestimate the enterprise of Bob Yearham and his team of gladiators at Emperors; they've already worked that one out, earmarking the VIP parking on the other side of the present venue as a second and more spacious stabling complex.
It has to be said from both a buyers' and a vendors' perspective, "Emperors" is the perfect set-up for an event of this sort. Firstly, this complex hosts so many enormous events, they manage these things in their sleep, even if this one was completely unique. Secondly, when the venue and the horses are seldom more than a minute from the time you leave your bedroom or the breakfast hall, the convenience of patrons has never been better served, anywhere in the world.
Which reminds us all that there is still business to be done at Block "A" in the TBA's Germiston Sales Complex later this week. Whatever the future of thoroughbred sales, and I believe it's most breeders' wish that a single solution can be forged for the greater good, not only for those of us with an iron in the fire, but for South African racing as a whole, the truth is that CTS has taken racehorse marketing where it's never been before. This kind of enterprise sets the bar at new levels for sales organisations the world over; imagine what a healthy combination of what they and the TBA offer, could do for the pockets of vendors, as well as showing the planet what a "David" like South Africa can achieve among the "Goliaths" of the game.
I say this particularly at a time when Nirvana for the breeding community is ever closer at hand. Sitting out in the stable yard, I spent a few fascinating hours picking the ample brain of Professor Ian Sanne on the subjects of our exports and their associated protocols, and it seems we're closer now to a complete solution than at any previous time. All the more reason to put "sales" differences aside, and galvanise our energies into the same melting pot.
For the record, the Summerhill entry averaged a solid R718,750 (don't forget the added 10%), while Klawervlei averaged R499,038 with a healthy aggregate of R12,975,000. Their flagship stallion, Captain Al, claimed the laurels among the men with an aggregate of R7.7million, though Silvano was top dog by average with R720,833.