Steve Moran

Steve Speaks To Jonathan D’Arcy

From 2014 to 2016, the Inglis Classic sale average jumped almost 40 per cent to more than $57,000 and this year’s February auction ought not be a ‘hard sell’ given the recent racetrack exploits of 2015 graduates Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt), Yankee Rose (All American) and I Am A Star (I Am Invincible).

Not to mention last year’s bargain $20,000 purchase of She Will Reign (Manhattan Rain) who is currently joint favourite for the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m).

However, two questions arise. Can that momentum and such a rate of growth be sustained and can it do so without negatively impacting the Melbourne Premier or Australian Easter Sales?

Jonathan D’Arcy wouldn’t be drawn on predicting the 2017 percentage increase but says there are several pointers to suggest a very positive outcome again this year at Classic and says changing attitudes have contributed to the growth in each of the company’s major yearling sales.

“We’re very happy with the catalogue, I can certainly say that. We had 1700 nominations for the sale which is 400 more than last year. The success of the graduates in recent years has built a very positive vibe and that’s important.

“I think it’s a sale where people think they can get more bang for their buck and the results support that. Recent prize money increases for country racing (in NSW) is a further stimulus and a plus for those buying in, say, the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Classic has always been popular with breeze-up buyers in the $40,000 to $80,000 range and with trainers across the board from all states, especially Victoria and New South Wales and now with buyers from Asia and New Zealand it’s no longer just a domestic sale,” he said.

D’Arcy believes that burgeoning international interest, better catalogue management and a more considered approach from vendors has allowed growth in each of the major sales rather than have one sale diminish another.

“Breeders have become more discerning about where they place their horses. Perhaps better to stand out at a sale like Classic than be lost at Sydney Easter or Magic Millions. There’ll be Easter class horses in the Classic Sale. There’s a lot of horses by the same stallions as Easter, raised at the same properties but perhaps from mares who don’t yet have the pedigree page. This year we have the support of farms like Yarraman Park, Segenhoe and Vinery sending really good product to Classic,” D’Arcy said.

Does this mean some horses, like an Extreme Choice who made $100,000 at the Classic sale, could well have been at Easter?

“I think Extreme Choice was suited to the Classic Sale as he was a smallish yearling at sale time and looked like a ready made two-year-old. He made twice the sale average and stood out at Classic being by a great sire and having a touch of class about him. He has certainly done the sale and his connections proud under Mick Price.

“Vendors have become more careful and realistic about placing their horses and buyers accept that there are nice horses on offer at Classic, not rejects. Classic is seen as a trading sale. Last year we sold 91 per cent of the horses offered which is a fantastic result. Across the world, I’d say the par score on clearance would be about 75 per cent” he said.

This year’s Classic Sale includes the 60 lot Gold Riband session with a focus on likely early comers. “We’ve marketed a group of horses to hopefully capture people’s imagination that they might buy a Slipper or Blue Diamond winner. They’re not necessarily the 60 best lots but they’re by sires who get two-year-olds and are horses who look like they’ll get to the races as two-year-olds,’ he said.

A number of incentives have been introduced to foster this element of the sale. Inglis will pay a $100,000 bonus split between the named vendor and supplier of the session’s first Stakes winner and pay the initial Golden Slipper nomination for each horse bought in the Gold Riband session.

If any horse – at all – sold at the Classic Sale wins the 2018 Golden Slipper, Inglis will pay a $1,000,000 bonus split between the named vendor and supplier on the official entry form.

These bonuses and other innovations planned for 2017, including the two session Chairman’s Sales surrounding Sydney Easter, perhaps speak to the need for sales houses to be more competitive against the growing competition from various online sales options.

“Elements of the market are changing but I’m sure the mystique and the theatre of the live auction will always endure. People want to touch and feel and compare and the live auction always find the true value whether it be art or houses or horses.

“In terms of the Chairman’s Sale, we are trying to be proactive rather than reactive. We’re watching world thoroughbred sales constantly and we are always prepared to take on a good idea. It’s an opportunity to capitalise on the buyers who are here for Easter, many of whom tell us that they are also interested in buying breeding stock and to provide a service to say buyers from the USA who might only come here once a year,” D’Arcy said.

The Chairman’s Sale – Racing Prospects will be held on Thursday 30 March, 48 hours before day one of The Championships at Randwick with Breeding Prospects offered the following Friday. The sale of racing stock follows the theme of Goff’s Sale at Kensington Palace on the Monday night of Royal Ascot week and Arqana’s Arc Sale.

“We’d hope that the Racing Prospects sale would include five to ten horses racing in The Championships for sale by whole or part. We’ve spoken to Racing NSW and they’ve assured us they will do everything to assist in registration and change of ownership for any horse bought on that Thursday night. It will be very much a select sale and we’d hope to have other very well performed horses who may not have an entry for the Randwick meeting,’ he said.

D’Arcy said that the Chairman’s Sale might even become a vehicle whereby owners of potential $10,000,000 Everest runners could raise capital.

“Obviously The Everest has had plenty of reaction but personally I’m happy to have anything positive capture the front page of our papers. Some may see it as elitist but I can’t imagine that Joe Janiak wouldn’t have considered it had it been running when Takeover Target was at his prime and when you look at the Pegasus last week, you have to remember that California Chrome was out of a $10,000 mare.

“The Breeding Prospects Sale will follow and will likely be restricted to 70 or 80 lots. We’re already getting a great response and prospective lots include the Queensland Oaks winner Provocative (Zabeel) who’s in foal to Tavistock and being offered by Newgate Farm while Coolmore have several mares entered including one, Close To My Heart, in foal to Frankel and the stakes-winner Harlem River in foal to Vancouver,” D’Arcy said.

CAULFIELD BEST BET: Each way Race 7 number 2 Hey Doc (Duporth). Highly promising horse who was Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) placed last time in. He is unbeaten in two previous first-up runs and he can be handier in the run than Morton’s Fork (Ad Valorem) who beat him home in the Carbine Club (Gr 3, 1600m) at the end of his last campaign.

BEST ROUGHIE: Race 6 number 13 Trueno (Written Tycoon). Don’t get many chances to back Damien Oliver on a 14-15/1 chance. Fitter for two runs back and race looks likely to set up well for him. Worth a small bet each way.