Diverse buying bench key to Premier success

5 min read
Inglis is expecting a diverse buying bench to ensure the ongoing strength of the Melbourne Premier Sale, which starts on Sunday at Oaklands Junction.

A diverse international contingent have joined a Victorian buying bench engendered with new confidence in what Inglis' Victorian Bloodstock Manager Simon Vivian expects to be a strong market at this week's Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale.

Vivian said buyers from South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Singapore as well as New Zealand were conducting inspections this week, with the feedback very strong on the quality of stock available in Book 1 which starts at 11am on Sunday.

With a focus on type over pedigree, the 514 Book 1 catalogue has been well received by both international and local buyers.

"Most of the vendors that I've spoken to have been very happy with the volume of inspections and parades that they have been asked to do," Vivian told TDN AusNZ.

"All the right people appear to be on the grounds. Having been out there for the past five days, when you are out there trying to find some room to inspect some horses, it’s hard to get a spot. There has been plenty of action. There doesn't appear to have been a quiet period."

Gallery: The recent refurbishments undertaken at the Inglis Oakland's complex

That constant supply of vendor interest has been despite a late summer heatwave, which has made conditions a little stifling in the build up to the sale.

Given the focus Vivian and his team have put on the physical quality of the yearling, the strong feedback is a suitable reward for the approach they have taken with the catalogue.

"What we worked out is that the principal consumers of yearlings, being trainers and syndicators, want to buy an athlete." - Simon Vivian

"It’s a catalogue that we tried to select on conformation, and, to a degree, we might have sacrificed a little on pedigree. But what we worked out is that the principal consumers of yearlings, being trainers and syndicators, want to buy an athlete," he said.

"I think you'll find the greater percentage of the horses have been beautifully presented to us and I'm delighted with the product we’ve got to offer."

"It seems that the buyers are very pleased. The likes of Ric Wylie, from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, made a comment on the significant number of horses that he has seen that fit their stringent selection criteria. That in itself is a positive."

Confidence in cloudy market

There is always uncertainty ahead of any major sales, and while new benchmarks were set at the season-opening Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, subsequent sale results have been softer than expected.

Adding to that uncertainty is the significant upheaval that has taken place in the Victorian racing landscape in the past six weeks, with the state's leading trainer, Darren Weir, disqualified, and over 600 horses having to find new homes.

The departure of Weir from the buying bench, and the influx of his horses to others who would normally be buying at Oaklands could have a negative impact, but Vivian said the feedback he has got from potential buyers is that they are approaching the sale with added confidence in the integrity of the Victorian industry.

"Having had extensive discussions with a number of the trainers, they all seem unanimous in their applause for the racing integrity process." - Simon Vivian

"Having had extensive discussions with a number of the trainers, they all seem unanimous in their applause for the racing integrity process," he said.

"It seems to have engendered a degree of confidence in the industry and certain trainers that we thought may have been a little quieter from picking up some extra horses from Darren Weir, they are here looking to restock with young horses."

"Some of the trainers we thought might be here to buy one, two or three horses, might be there to buy five or six."

Lindsay Park inspecting at the Inglis Premier Sale

The signs of success

So what does success look like for Inglis at the Melbourne sale? Vivian is looking at maintaining the high clearance rate from last year and keeping the median strong.

"Obviously averages and aggregates are very important for general discussion post the sale. For me, I want to get a clearance rate of about 85 per cent and I’d like to see that clearance rate controlled through the auction ring, and not post the sale," he said.

"We want horses sold through the ring because that means vendors met a market that purchasers are prepared to pay. That is very important." - Simon Vivian

"We want horses sold through the ring because that means vendors met a market that purchasers are prepared to pay. That is very important."

"The other important factor is the median. The past two years of the sale, the median price has been $100,000. I think that's very reassuring when 50 per cent of the horses are making $100,000 or more. I think that's a sign of a good healthy sale. I would be hoping for that median again."

Two years ago, the best ever Book 1 at Oaklands Junction saw the average exceed $120,000, while last year it dropped slightly to just under $117,000.

Vivian is hoping for an average in the same ball park again, but knows the median and clearance rate are better indicators about the overall health of the market.

A smaller Book 1 this year, with 514 lots catalogued, will mean that the record aggregate of $54 million set on 2017 is very unlikely to be surpassed.