'Let's get data out there and look at different ways to sell the product'
Star Bloodstock's Matt Eves with suggestions to adapt in difficult circumstances
Star Bloodstock’s Matt Eves has called on breeze-up consignors and sales companies to take a more collective and proactive approach to ensure trade remains robust at forthcoming events.
Acknowledging the increased possibility that sales could take place behind at least semi-closed doors and with considerably decreased attendance owing to the ongoing coronavirus concerns, he feels transparency is key.
"I think no matter where we are at the minute, a lot of the breeze-up product is aimed at the two-year-old career, so if you’re not able to sell on time then you’re going to end up in some degree of trouble," he said.
"What we need to be looking at is not necessarily the concept of breeze-ups but how we get information out to people, and to sell the product in a different way.
"Historically it has been chatting to everyone at the sales, and we need to be much more willing to provide information we would not have otherwise provided.
"For example, the Italian market will still exist after coronavirus has been through. There will still be racing in Italy and people will still want to have bought horses that they were not able to get their hands on. So how do we give those buyers who are in lockdown confidence to buy our product?"
Getting on front foot here is important & we need to take every step to plan for reduced attendence @BrzUps plan to protect staff working at sales & overall as an industry work together.— Star Bloodstock (@starbloodstock) March 16, 2020
Star Bloodstock, a relative newcomer to the sphere, has 16 juveniles to offer across various spring auctions and Eves intends to do everything he can to attract interest in them.
He said: "At sales last year, there might be five, maybe up to ten, photographs of horses that were for sale on the sales company's website; probably five of them were mine - I believe we all should have nothing to hide and a breeze-up product that is of quality.
"Put up a photograph, put up a video of your horse walking after the breeze, video him or her trotting. Get the data up so people can see if the horse is sound after the breeze. You have to bite the bullet and put information out there.
"A lot of the time people will be relying on an agent sending them a picture, as whether they’re an expert or not, they want to see what they're buying.
"If we can’t get as many agents to the sale and they can’t get as many pictures, we should be providing it through media. I don’t think it’s complicated, and there should be no vendor that says no to that sort of thing."
He added: "I think there are other things sales companies need to take seriously. There have been cases when you can’t see all of the horse or the breeze on the video, and buyers who use analysis like stride length can't do that properly."
Eves has other ideas to ensure that those unable to attend can feel more encouraged to bid, from potentially allowing vet sheets to be viewed online to publicly acknowledging a horses’s reserve.
He also feels that breeze timing, usually something of a cloak-and-dagger affair, needs to be opened up, at least in these unusual circumstances.
"If you hold a breeze-up you have to have times to get certain buyers to pay money - without them you don’t get them playing," he said. "So I'd say you have to have a system of getting times pulled together, and those people who would have used times allowed access as part of the organisation of the trade.
"It might just require better coordination for those buyers who use the times, but I know how important it is to the buying decision, and it creates a more vibrant market. I'm not sure I'd publish times openly, as everyone times different elements and sections of a breeze, giving more horses a chance to shine."
Like many other consignors, Star has investors who will be anxious about racing taking place in coming weeks, especially with early two-year-olds who are ready to run.
Nonetheless, Eves is resolute in intending to make the best of a difficult situation.
He concluded: "My main message is let's get data out there and look at different ways to sell the product - which means we have to be confident of what we're selling.
"Breezers are proving successful on the track, in both the short and longer term, but we can’t hide anything, we have to stand behind it."
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