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Racing NSW puts foot down on eve of Inglis sales inspections

Victorians banned from Riverside Stables auctions as Queensland border set to reopen

Victorian buyers and vendors have been locked out of next week’s Inglis sales series in Sydney, forcing the already rescheduled Great Southern to be pushed back to August, while the southern state’s stakeholders face 14 days of isolation before being allowed to attend the Magic Millions Gold Coast National Sale later this month.

The reinforcement of a Racing NSW directive preventing licensees from interacting with their interstate counterparts has forced Inglis to effectively ban Victorians from attending Riverside Stables for Sunday’s Easter Round 2 and Scone Yearling Sales and the Australian Weanling Sale next Wednesday.

“As a result of advice from the NSW state government and Racing NSW resulting from the increasing Covid-19 situation in Victoria, all Victorian-domiciled persons will be unable to attend Riverside Stables at the upcoming Inglis July Sales Series auctions,” Inglis said in a statement last night.

“This includes all vendors, vendor staff, vets and buyers.”

Vendors from Victoria can still offer their horses at the Sydney sales, but they must do so by employing NSW-based staff, adding further headaches for breeders in a marketplace already full of economic uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis. 

Inspections for Sunday’s yearling sales begin at Riverside Stables today with arrangements having already been made to ensure Victorian vendors Yulong, A List Stud and Daisy Hill are able to have their horses on site.

The Great Southern Sale, which had been moved from Victoria to Sydney in a bid to counter the coronavirus issue engulfing Melbourne in recent weeks, has once again been rescheduled as a live auction at Oaklands Junction on August 9. 

A back-up plan of an Inglis Digital sale being conducted if strict Covid-19 protocols make it impossible for buyers and vendors to be on site has been put in place.

“We’ve been working with Inglis in relation to an upcoming weanling sale that was transferred from Melbourne (Great Southern) and as I understand it, it seems that the sale is no longer taking place (in Sydney),” Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“In terms of the yearling sales this weekend, Inglis has agreed to Racing NSW’s request that there is the non-attendance of persons based in Victoria on the basis of the outbreak of Covid in that state.”

The last-minute Racing NSW intervention on who could attend the Inglis sales, which had already been moved back from April and June because of the government-imposed restrictions, will also impact the buying bench at the Magic Millions National Sale on the Gold Coast later in July.

“Our current protocols in place for NSW participants is that if they do attend another state then they have to quarantine in NSW for 14 days when they return back from that state and they can’t attend a racecourse or licensed premises during that period,” Van Gestel said.

“That’s the current protocols we have in place for all our participants.”

The action taken by Racing NSW emerged at the same time as Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a reopening of the state’s borders to residents of all states and territories except Victoria on July 10.

Palaszczuk said Victorians or travellers who had spent time in Victoria in the preceding 14 days leading up to entering Queensland would be required to undertake two weeks of quarantine at their own expense.

It was unclear last night whether Victorians would have to undertake hotel quarantine or if they had the option to spend 14 days isolating outside their home state before heading to Queensland.

Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said: “Our understanding is they can, but I want to reiterate that we haven’t got confirmation on that. The other option is that they could get to the Coast early and quarantine there.

”If Victorians are eager and keen there is a means and a way for them (to attend the National Sale).”

Yesterday’s border announcement by the Queensland government has prompted Victorian agent Suman Hedge to pack up and head north to complete his isolation so he can attend the Magic Millions sales.

However, the Racing NSW order will prevent Hedge, a prominent weanling buyer, and his Victorian peers including Sheamus Mills, from attending the Sydney sales.

“I’ve just been telling my wife that I’ll probably need to leave (this) morning,” Hedge said. 

“That’s the part that is so hard to reconcile for families. I don’t have children, but some of the other agents and participants have got young families, so it’s going to be a bit tricky to deal with for them. But there’s no other options for us at the moment.”

Hedge added: “It’s a big blow for Victorian participants because they already had the Great Southern Sale cancelled and moved up to Sydney, so they’ve had to adjust for that.

“Now, they’ve been allowed to send their horses up, but they won’t be able to send any staff up and they will have to be managed by other people.

“Obviously for myself it’s difficult because (pinhooking weanlings) is a big part of my business but for the farms, some of those farms they aim to sell all of their horses as weanlings like Cathy Hains (at Burnewang North it is even harder).”

It could lead to some vendors electing to make a last-ditch bid to get their weanlings to Queensland as supplementary entries for the Magic Millions Sale or, alternatively, attempt to sell them privately.

Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm’s James O’Brien, who is also the president of Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria, is weighing up his options after yesterday’s developments.

The Victorian breeder has his entire 2019 foal crop, who are by stallions such as Deep Field (Northern Meteor), Not A Single Doubt (Redoute’s Choice) and So You Think (High Chaparral), catalogued in the Great Southern Sale.

“Wearing a Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm cap, I’ve got ten in the Great Southern Sale, and we are presenting all our weanlings to sale, so we’re all-in. I’ve got none going to the yearling sales. I’ve put all my eggs in one basket and the basket’s getting a bit shaky,” O’Brien said.

“I have got some really nice horses there and I want them to be presented well. These are the times we are in.”

Late entries for the Magic Millions National Sale, which has already received some high-profile entries including Group 1-winning mares Sunlight (Zoustar) and Viddora (I Am Invincible), remain open until July 6.

“I am in the Hunter Valley at the moment and we’ve got some unbelievable stock to offer,” Bowditch said. 

“We are genuinely excited that we can host this sale in a live format – the best format to host a sale – and we’re looking forward to having our clientele back on the Gold Coast.”

Sales schedule

Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale Round 2 – Riverside Stables, July 5

Inglis Scone Yearling Sale – Riverside Stables, July 6

Inglis Australian Weanling Sale – Riverside Stables, July 8 and possibly 9

Inglis Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale – Oaklands Junction, July 16

Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale – Gold Coast, July 20-22

Magic Millions National Weanling Sale – Gold Coast, July 23 and 24

Magic Millions National Yearling Sale – Gold Coast, July 27 and 28

Magic Millions National Racehorse Sale – Gold Coast, July 28

Inglis Great Southern Sale – Oaklands Junction, August 9