By John Boyce
The European yearling sales season has all but come to a close. There have been about 4,800 yearlings sold since late August and vendors will have endured the highs and lows of selling in a very polarised market, with the top 10% of yearlings accounting for 54% of the revenue generated at all European sales. As our decile table tells us, the only market sector that advanced significantly was the very top, improving by 15.9%. Every other area of the market either only made marginal gains or essentially stayed the same as last year. And the drop from decile one is quite stark: an average of £348k to £99k to £63k. From a top price of £4.2 million (4 million gns) to £137k to £75k.
These numbers amply demonstrate how quickly demand drops away if your yearling doesn’t measure up. Another useful way to demonstrate the tough nature of the market is to look at individual yearling profitability. If we add the conception fee to an upkeep charge of say £16,000 and then compare this to the yearling price, we can see clearly what is going on. At the European sales, there were 4,627 yearlings by sires with five or more yearlings sold that had published fees back in 2015. Remarkably, only 2,243 or 48% of these would have been considered profitable if we use our £16k yardstick for keeping a yearling until sales time. But then that is the very nature of markets: rich rewards for the few and a chastening for the many.