Knock-on impact of external events made for a tough week at Inglis
Bloodstock editor Mark Scully reflects on the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale
In economics, they say that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. In the bloodstock world this week, it was more a case of the world sneezing, and the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale being left to feel under the weather.
It is easy to say it now but in hindsight, this was always going to be a challenging week for the Oaklands Junction auction. Take the Hong Kong Jockey Club, for example. The ongoing standoff between the province and Australian authorities over the biosecurity of the Congua training centre means the HKJC declined to attend, as they have with every Australian yearling sale this year. They spent A$1.3 million at this sale 12 months ago.
Then there's Markus Jooste. A big supporter of the sale in recent years, he now finds racing at the bottom of his priority list, as he seeks to fend off possible jail time over alleged accounting irregularities at Steinhoff International Holdings. South African representation at the sale, an important factor in its upswing of late, fell off in the wake of the scandal, with many of the country's buyers looking to benefit from the dispersal of Jooste's stock.
Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale reports
Closer to home too, it seems the Aquanita racing case had a knock-on effect, with the Victorian buying bench significantly weakened. Not only were those caught up in it no longer active but, as in South Africa, other trainers that have benefited from picking off the carcass may have felt they did not need to recruit further equine talent.
It would be wrong to lay the blame for any of these three factors at the door of Inglis but the fact is, vendors left Oaklands for the most part unhappy, with many seeing far less competition for their offerings than they had anticipated. It was right, therefore, that Mark Webster acknowledged his team has some thinking to do in order to stop that happening again.
Despite this, some buyers still felt they were having just as tough a time picking up horses in the middle range, something supported by the fact that the median held solid at $100,000 in comparison with last year.
While all other indicators fell, the drop off was not catastrophic. It gave everybody a jolt because we have become accustomed to these figures trending ever further north but some perspective is important. This is a sale that has grown far greater than could have been imagined in the last decade and without the lure and prestige of Easter or the Gold Coast, along with the fact it tries to do something a bit different with its catalogue, it is always likely to be more vulnerable to external events.
There is little doubt that by the time everybody is leaving Inglis's Riverside Stables in just over a month's time, we will once again be reflecting on a hugely lucrative auction.
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