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Great Southern and Melbourne Gold sales to go ahead as scheduled

Victorian Premier’s Covid clamp down will not stop Inglis’ live auction plans at Oaklands Junction

Inglis remains committed to conducting live Great Southern and Melbourne Gold yearling sales in Victoria next month despite the state government being forced into reneging on a planned relaxation of coronavirus regulations after a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in the past week.

Sebastian Hutch, Inglis’ general manager of bloodstock sales and marketing, yesterday moved to allay fears that the proposed Oaklands Junction auctions were in doubt due to Premier Daniel Andrews’ stern action at the weekend to clamp down on the movement of people, particularly in Melbourne. 

Inglis’ Victorian sales complex is located to the north west of the city in Hume City Council, one of six local government areas identified by authorities as a Covid-19 hotspot.

Inglis has been engaging with Hume City Council to ensure its Oaklands Junction sales proceed where there are 226 weanlings catalogued for the July 12 Great Southern Sale and another 454 yearlings entered in the Melbourne Gold auction.

The yearling sale had already been pushed back from April because of the Australia-wide lockdown caused by the pandemic.

Since the coronavirus crisis began, Inglis has conducted the Australian Easter Yearling Sale and Chairman’s Sale as virtual auctions, while the industry has also embraced online technology to continue to trade bloodstock, but Hutch was mindful of the importance of an on-the-ground market taking place, starting with the company’s four July sales in quick succession.

“Inglis has made a huge investment in technology, which has been valuable in what has been a difficult period, but naturally there’s a huge appetite for live sales to resume and we’re very much on track for that to be the case in July,” Hutch told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“We’ve got Covid safe plans that we’ve discussed with relevant authorities for the sales in NSW and Victoria and we want the sales to go ahead as we recognise their importance to the market. 

“We’re conscious of our responsibilities for people’s safety as well, but certainly in terms of discussions we’ve had with relevant authorities we’re very much capable of satisfying their requirements.

“As long as patrons respect the guidelines that are put in place at the complexes, we’re very confident that the sales will be straight forward.”

The Riverside Stables-scheduled Australian Easter Yearling Sale Round 2, the Scone Yearling Sale (July 5) and the Australian Weanling Sale (July 8) were confirmed as live auctions in May and that still remains the case, but the increase in the coronavirus infection rate through community transmission in Victoria heightened vendors’ concerns about the prospect of the Melbourne sales not being able to go ahead.

Victorian vendor Paul Kelly of Ponderosa Park says buyers would not be prepared to speculate on higher-end weanlings if they could be inspected and believes it is imperative that a live auction takes place.

If the sale was postponed or cancelled, it would put an enormous financial strain on Kelly and his wife Sue’s business.

“We’d really struggle if we had to hold onto them all as yearlings because our whole program revolves around selling them as weanlings,” Kelly said. 

“There’s service fees to be paid, we have to breed again this year and we probably can’t hold that many horses on the farm.

“We have 27 going to Great Southern including some Gold yearlings who were supposed to (be sold in April).

“Everyone knows what it costs to feed just one horse, let alone if you’re holding an extra 27 or 28.”

Kelly plans to offer 19 weanlings by sires including Deep Field (Northern Meteor), More Than Ready (Southern Halo), Capitalist (Written Tycoon), Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock) and Toronado (High Chaparral) with select sale pedigrees.

He said: “Our business model gives buyers the confidence that we are sending our very best.”

Mane Lodge’s Neil Osborne also has eight weanlings catalogued for the Great Southern Sale, including a Headwater (Exceed And Excel) half-sister to the Group 3-placed Lone Eagle (Zoffany), and admitted the uncertainty surrounding the overall market and the Melbourne auction was far from ideal.

Osborne, who also trains and operates an agistment property at Sutton north of Canberra, had specifically targeted Great Southern in a bid to decrease his numbers to a manageable level before next year’s yearling sales. 

“Looking at the results, I thought the Great Southern was an exceptional weanling sale and the buying bench was a lot broader down there than in Sydney,” Osborne said.

There has been a suggestion that the Great Southern and Melbourne Gold sales could be moved to Inglis’ Sydney complex to alleviate coronavirus concerns, a move that would be supported by Osborne and Kelly, but Hutch last night said Oaklands Junction remained the likely venue.

“At this stage, there’s no plan to relocate any sales from Victoria to NSW,” he said.

“Obviously, we have the capacity to do that if it is absolutely necessary, but nothing’s happened in the past few days that means we would need to do that.” 

July shapes as a busy period for breeding industry participants with back-to-back auctions in Sydney and Melbourne before the postponed Magic Millions Gold Coast National Sale takes place later in the month as a live auction.

“The challenge of the schedule, as it now exists, is that there’s a lot of horses being sold in a relatively short space of time. We’ve tried to configure the sales so that it evolves in a smooth fashion,” Hutch said.

“There’s a lot of horses and people are going to have to be very diligent and very professional in how they get through them in regards to the sales in NSW and Victoria, or both.

“But it’s going to present positive challenges for people because there’s the potential for value to be found and those people who do their work will find a bargain. 

“Similarly, vendors who present their horses to a high standard, are well prepared and are prepared to be as open and transparent as possible for those buyers who aren’t in a position to attend the sale, they will hopefully get rewarded.”

Meanwhile, people planning on attending the Easter Round 2 and Scone Yearling Sale at Riverside Stables in Sydney on July 5 and the Australian Weanling Sale three days later must pre-register.

Similar protocols will be in force for the Great Southern weanling and Melbourne Gold sales.

Related links

Registration for Inglis Easter Round 2 and Australian Weanling Sale attendance