The start of a new year usually means long summer days, resolutions, and time out. For the racing industry, it means yearling sale season.
The Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale kicks off the first crop to go under the hammer, closely followed by New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka. William Inglis & Son Ltd (Inglis) have their Sydney and Melbourne Sales in February and the Easter Classic Sale in April. That’s only scratching the surface as I haven’t even mentioned Tasmania, Perth or Adelaide. Phew!
In high school I worked for Glenhaven Park Stud during the Magic Millions and whilst it was definitely a great learning experience, knowing the ins and outs of the breeding industry is not one of my strong points. So rather than trying to figure it out for myself, I spoke to Belmont Bloodstock’s Damon Gabbedy for some advice…
OK Damon, take me through the process of buying a yearling.
I will inspect every horse in the catalogue then discuss with my clients what it is they’re after. Some clients might be after a staying (long distance runner) type filly or perhaps an early running 2 year old colt, which you can tell from their breeding. If buyers are Victorian based, they might only want to purchase VOBIS qualified horses to take advantage of the bonus prizemoney schemes offered by Racing Victoria. We’ll set a budget then work through my list to find the best match.
What’s more important, the pedigree or the actual horse standing in front of you?
It’s definitely a combination. You’ll initially be attracted to the pedigree but you ultimately want to buy an athlete so the horse needs to look like one. A yearling needs to have strong conformation (shape and build) and a good temperament, so the horse itself will override its pedigree.
How do you value what a horse might be worth?
It’s a process of elimination and education. Previous sales give us a good guide as to what is selling well so we know the demand for certain sires. I’ll also research all the mares in the book to see what any of their other progeny has sold for previously. When you couple all that research with the individual horse in front of you, we can come up with a value. It’s then also about the value of that horse to the client and what they have, or are prepared, to pay.
What other checks do you do before bidding?
Each horse has a set of x-rays done before coming to the sales which are available for public viewing so I’ll always get a vet to review them. I’ll also look at the horse 3 – 4 more times to make sure it’s the one we want to buy. However you also to have a backup list of about 4-5 other horses, as you might not get to buy the exact horse you’re after if someone else has a bigger budget than you.
If you're keen to buy at the upcoming sales, get in touch with your favourite trainer, check out the list of Approved Syndicators on the Racing Victoria's Owner portal, or drop me a line for more information.
The Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale is on 26 Feb - 1 March. It’s free to visit so why not head out to Oaklands (just past the airport) and soak up the fantastic atmosphere. If you've never been, it certainly is an exciting and unique experience. And you never know, you might just pick out the next champion of the turf!
THE GUIDE (because sometimes in this industry you need a translator!)
Sire - The father
Dam - The mother. The gestation period of a horse is approximately 11 months.
Foal / Weanling / Yearling - The horse is referred to as a foal until it's approx 6 months old. Once weaned off it's dam it's called a weanling then a yearling once it turns 1 year of age.
Filly / Mare - A female horse is called a filly until it becomes an adult at age 4, when it is then referred to as a mare.
Colt / Gelding / Entire - A colt is a young horse who is then referred to as an Entire or Stallion upon its 4th birthday. A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated.
Horse's Birthday - For standardisation, all horses in the southern hemisphere share their birthday on 1st August. In the northern hemisphere, it's 1st January.
VOBIS - Victorian Owners & Breeders Incentive Scheme is designed to reward owners and breeders who invest in Victorian bloodstock through additional prizemoney opportunities. In NSW, there's BOBS (Breeder Owner Bonus Scheme) and Queensland has the QLD Thoroughbred Incentive Scheme (QTIS).
Photo Credit: The Thoroughbred magazine 2008. 'How to pick a Yearling'. Power, Danny.