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(Bloodstock South Africa)
EMPERORS PALACE READY TO RUN SALE
We tend to forget that we’re in the luxury goods business, and that like art and antiques, when times are tough, if racehorses are your vocation, you need to have all your wits, and you have to have a product that stands alone. Deep inside, we’ve been of the belief that this sale could retreat by as much as 10-15%, given that world markets in racehorses have retreated by as much as 50%, and the substantial gains in the opposite direction this sale has witnessed. That this wasn’t the case at the TBA sales complex yesterday evening, says something for the “package” attached to the Ready To Run.
The bare facts were a drop in average from R177,613 last year, to R172,769 in 2010, (roughly 3%), and a clearance rate of 82%, against 94% for 2009, and I guess we’d have to count that as a good result, though there will obviously have been disappointment for those who didn’t sell their horses. We have conducted a bit of trade since the close of business late last night, with a further six horses changing hands, and we expect this trade will continue for the next couple of days. Another feature of the sale which contrasted starkly with the past few years, was the absence of buyers in the R40,000 to R100,000 bracket for the last 40 or 50 lots, surely the best indicator that the “Golden Village” had run out of money to a degree. We’ve seen trade escalate for these same lots in the past couple of years or so, principally because we’ve made a policy of restricting the numbers in the catalogued to 165, yet this was a few too many this year.
By any stretch though, we’d have to be gratified by the trade we did, particularly when you recall that this sale has bucked the international trend several years in a row, posting gains of 45%, 52% (in the wake of the collapse of Lehmann Bros in 2008) and 12% last year. It remains one of the best performing sales in the world, to put it into its correct context.
The highlights of the sale included five millionaires, bought respectively by a Sheikh from Dubai, a miner from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a businessman from Hong Kong, and South Africa’s equivalent of the Maktoum family and Coolmore (combined, if you like!), Markus Jooste and his great pal and colleague, Chris van Niekerk, represented respectively by Mike de Kock, Dennis Drier and Sean Tarry. Overall, Markus Jooste, Form Bloodstock and Mike de Kock were the sale’s major supporters, but never lets forget the broad spread of buyers who come back to this ring year in and year out, to stake their claim for what will be a R2million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup prize next year.
And speaking of the prize, Saturday’s big race was a triumph this year for the more expensive horses, with Hollywoodboulevard trumping the hitherto unbeaten Igugu for the lion’s or more appropriately, the lioness’ share of the booty. Hopefully, as this was the second conquest by the fillies over their male counterparts in four renewals of the Cup, the argument that colts and fillies should be separated in two different races will be put to bed forever.
A final standout feature was the very solid and well deserved demand for the progeny of our young stallion, Way West. Buyers obviously like him, and those that had them were pretty much rewarded for their patronage of this horse in his second season.