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Classic numbers add up for Inglis

6 min read
Despite overwhelming demand for places in its 2021 Classic Sale, Inglis has resisted the temptation to grow the size of the catalogue, preserving the three-day format with a focus on quality and variety.

The complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdowns through 2020 have meant a significant surge in vendors looking to sell yearlings through the 2021 sales and put additional pressure on sales companies to accommodate this demand.

But the 2021 Inglis Classic Sale, which will be held from February 7 until February 9 at the Riverside Stables at Warwick Farm, will feature a slight reduction in numbers on 2020 with 803 horses catalogued, 620 in the Main Book and 183 in the Highway Session. That is five fewer horses than this year's catalogue and 210 fewer than 2019.

Inglis' General Manager Bloodstock Sales and Marketing, Sebastian Hutch, told TDN AusNZ that he was confident the Classic Sale catalogue had achieved its objectives of quality and diversity with the numbers at that level.

Inglis' Sebastian Hutch

"The demand for places for a sale like Classic is fairly overwhelming, so in that sense, it is relieving we have got to a point where we have worked with vendors to try and assemble a catalogue we are very pleased with," he said.

"We want to have quality as our primary focus, but we want to have a well-diversified catalogue as well in terms of who is represented, be that vendors or stallions. We feel like we have achieved that with 76 individual vendors and 108 stallions represented in the book.

"We want to have quality as our primary focus, but we want to have a well-diversified catalogue as well in terms of who is represented, be that vendors or stallions." - Sebastian Hutch

"The option is always there to expand the catalogue. We made a conscious decision that it was something we weren't going to do. We wanted to support those who were in the catalogue effectively."

Hutch said Inglis was determined to maintain its level of service to vendors and buyers, something that becomes increasingly difficult with a larger catalogue. It also wanted to ensure it hit the sweet spot for numbers in terms of offering variety and depth without making the inspection process too onerous on buyers.

Sale day action at Inglis Riverside Stables

"It's been difficult for buyers to work those exceptionally large catalogues. So while we could have expanded, we thought it was in the best interests of the Sale and the best interest of our clients not to do that," he said.

Hutch said Inglis' Sales Series, which is complemented by the regular digital sales the company offers, provides a range of markets for vendors to sell yearling into.

Among the 108 stallions represented in the Classic Sale catalogue are elite sires such as I Am Invincible, Snitzel, Written Tycoon, Exceed And Excel, Zoustar, Pierro, So You Think and Fastnet Rock. The much anticipated crop of first-season sires are also represented with 22 in all, including Merchant Navy, Russian Revolution, Hellbent, Almanzor (Fr), Pariah, Churchill (Ire), Invader, Menari, Impending, Highland Reel (Ire), Spieth (NZ), Supido and Tosen Stardom (Jpn).

The border challenge

Compiling the 2021 catalogue, during a time where interstate movement has been curtailed by COVID restrictions, was a challenge for Inglis but Hutch is confident it has got the best representations of yearlings for the Sale it could.

"The principles (for selection of yearlings) are pretty much the same. It has made elements of the inspection process a little more challenging in terms of being able to see horses that are domiciled interstate during the inspection period," he said.

"We obviously have a significant presence in Victoria and we have been able to have access to Queensland when we needed to. We have contacts in other parts of the country which assisted with inspections. We were able to get a set of eyes on everything."

Graduates pave the way for 2021 success

The reputation of the Classic Sale for producing elite racehorses has only been enhanced in the past 18 months, with the winners of Australia's two richest races, the Melbourne Cup (Vow And Declare (Declaration of War {USA})) and The Everest (Classique Legend (Not A Single Doubt)) sold through the 2018 and 2017 editions of the Sale respectively.

2020 The TAB Everest winner Classique Legend

The first two editions of the R. Listed $2 million Inglis Millennium, Castelvecchio (Dundeel {NZ}) and Prime Star (Starspangledbanner), which will be held at Randwick on the day before the Sale starts, have also been purchased through the Sale.

"We feel the Sale is the most underestimated yearling sale in Australia. There isn't a huge fanfare around it. We haven't put on a series of non-horse related events to try and build the profile of the Sale," Hutch said.

"It's about assembling quality stock and then having the right buyers trying to identify the right horses to achieve their objectives. I’d say, with a fair degree of confidence and conviction, that Classic is a sale people can come to and know they are going to find the horse that they want at any level.

"The average Australian stakes winner out of Classic since 2018 cost $90,000, and there are many sales in the country where the equivalent horse costs three times as much. I think people can go to Classic confident in the knowledge they are going to find what they want and it’s going to be affordable."

The Inglis Millennium will be staged at Randwick on February 6, the day before the 2021 Classic Sale begins.

2020 R.Listed Inglis Millennium winner Prime Star (red and yellow silks)

2020 experience to shape 2021

The bloodstock market has proven remarkably resilient through 2020 despite the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic and while Hutch is not willing to predict what the market might look like in 2021, he knows Inglis is well placed to weather what may come.

"We don’t spend a lot of time trying to predict what the market is going to be. We just commit our time to working as hard as we can to facilitate the best market we can," he said.

"The market has been challenging this year, but those challenges have provided a catalyst for improvement. I think we are going to be in a really excellent position in terms of our preparation, not only for Classic, but for the entire sales series in 2021."

Hutch feels the results of the 2020 sales series, including a successful Ready2Race Sale last month which saw averages and median surge by 25 per cent year on year, indicated how hard Inglis has worked with its clients to help ensure the best possible results.

Inglis Riverside sale ring

"This period has been interesting in that we have gotten to know our buyers in even more detail.

"It's helped us to try and put systems in place to facilitate their spending, or try and ensure that they are getting the information they need to be able to bid with confidence," he said.

"These time has also demonstrated that people are willing to buy quality bloodstock even if they are going to absent from the Sale, as long as they have access to information. Vendors can take confidence from that."