We (Isa Lodge) are selling our two colts at Karaka, the Australasian yearling sale on Monday.
That’s exciting enough.
For me, an extra dose of excitement is that I’m heading south afterwards for the next two days of the Premier sale in Christchurch.
And what excites me about that sale is that I’ll get a chance to see more yearlings from a wider range of sires and families than at Karaka.
Karaka is often regarded as the top end sale, and that can lead to a more constrained and commercially driven parade of offspring. That’s fine. But by the end of the day, I will be craving to get to Christchurch to see a
Changeover or a Panspacificflight or a Shadow Play or a Gotta Go Cullect. I’ll be hungry for a Badlands Hanover, or a McArdle. I can’t wait to see The Pres yearlings and compare 9 Shark Gestures and 2 Raffaello Ambrosios. I’ll be so keen to check out the Santanna Blue Chips, and look at the only Mister Big, Kenneth J, Major In Art and Muscle Hill in the sales. I will even get to look at 3 Rob Roy Mattgregor colts and see if he stamped them in any way. There’s almost twice as many Jereme’s Jets as there are at Karaka! I’ve got 12 Art Official yearlings to look at, whereas there is not even one at Karaka.
Because at Auckland, Bettor’s Delight dominates again, and there’s a photo finish for Art Major and Mach Three, and then another photo for the first four between American Ideal and Rocknroll Hanover.
Then you drop back to only 7 from Real Desire, 6 from Rock N Roll Heaven and 5 from Christian Cullen. There’s only one Changeover yearling at Karaka, yet he was bred and trained in the north even if he now stands in the south. The rest is a smattering, flying solitary flags for their sires.
At Christchurch there is variety and a feast of offerings from new and established sires, including those that are still trying to get a real foot-hold in the market. I know that is dangerous territory for vendors, an added risk on top of the usual risks of breeding. But some of these are very calculated risks – a thoughtful pedigree or type cross, or perhaps the willingness to put a sire out into the market. A tip o’ the hat to those who go that route, knowing those risks. Our standardbred breeding and racing is the richer for your decisions. We will never win if we merely following in the tracks of others. Those who bred in previous years to Changeover or Shadow Play, for example, will be feeling a little chuffed, as those sires start to make a mark. It takes someone to lead, doesn’t it.
The range of damsires on offer follows the same pattern. At Karaka, new-ish damsires include only Mach 3 (lots 32, 56, 122, 127), Bettor’s Delight (lots 77, 55, 54), Artsplace who is a relatively minor sire here, for my N American readers (lots 66, 113, 123), Artiscape (lots 27, 88, 119), plus two Continentalman damsire credits for trotters (lots 49 and 81), one for Real Desire but I think imported (lot 13), and one Grinfromeartoear mare (lot 34 – hey, that’s my gorgeous mare The Blue Lotus and her first foal!).
Meanwhile down in Christchurch, you have plenty of representation from new-ish damsires – McArdle (lots 25, 79, 111, 116, 185, 186, 264, 308), Bettor’s Delight (lots 24, 77, 132, 167, 177, 302, 312), and Life Sign (lots 39, 117, 172, 226, 249, 281, 349), plus solid representation by Artsplace, Artiscape, and Washington VC, and a few by Muscles Yankee, Mach Three, Pacific Rocket, Courage Under Fire, Red River Hanover and Badlands Hanover, and even Elsu, Earl, Rocknroll Hanover, CR Commando, Continentalman, Julius Caesar and Tinted Cloud have at least got one credit as a damsire at the sale.
That isn’t a definitive list – I might have missed a few – but the overall point is valid.
Christchurch is where the variety lies.
Both sales are a reflection of the tough economic times (and the downturn in breeding numbers) about 3 years ago, when these breeding decisions were made.
We have had a couple of bank-account wrenching sales, and the impact is clear. Some breeders have consolidated to “the best to the best” and moved to a conservative position that at least might maximise their return. Others took the opportunity to get value for money and take a punt on new sires, and take a potentially lower sale price but hopefully retain a reasonable profit margin. And the market is different in Christchurch, where there are more buyers and trainers in the middle and lower market. Thank heavens!
There will be other reasons too, but this sale basically reflects the wake-up call we all got as the industry and the global economy shrank. It is just interesting to see the different responses.
Both options have good rationale. In the end the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” or as we say, “you will find out on the racetrack”.
Personally, I think going to Christchurch for the Premier Sale will be time and money well spent to widen my appreciation of current breeding. I’m really looking forward to reporting on what I find there.