By Gary King
Within the backdrop of a global pandemic, the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale Round 1 was staged as a virtual sale in early April. At the time, Inglis made a decision to also offer vendors the chance to sell their yearlings at a live sale in July. TDN's Gary King caught up with Inglis's Sebastian Hutch to find out more about Easter Round 2.
TDN: Easter Round 1, highlighted by a AU$1.8-million Snitzel (Aus) colt, was deemed a major success especially considering the circumstances. You must have been pleased with how it went?
Sebastian Hutch: I think it's fair to say that the version of the sale which was held across the traditional date in April exceeded the expectations of the very vast majority of participants. It was uncharted territory for a major international yearling sale to be held in a virtual format, so there was an element of trepidation in advance of the sale as I'm sure people can appreciate.
However we had outstanding support from vendors, buyers and other industry stakeholders, while our own internal structures, particularly in the case of IT, performed very efficiently. Inevitably we learnt plenty as a collective from the experience and it has helped us find ways of further improving the services that we offer through our auction processes.
TDN: And now Easter Round 2 is set to take the form of a traditional live auction on Sunday, July 5th. What are your expectations?
SH: Easter Round 2 is a concept that was formulated during the period of great uncertainty in late-March, early-April. It was recognized, that despite best endeavors, some vendors just were not going to be in a position to achieve appropriate results through the virtual sale, primarily due to their respective locations. With that in mind, it was agreed to offer an alternative sale that would be scheduled for a time when we were hopeful that a live auction would be possible.
A few days out from the sale, having encountered a number of challenges, we have yearlings on the complex and inspections underway from Wednesday. To that end, it is a relief to have made it to where we are. Understandably given the circumstances, expectations are guarded. Interest in the sale from investors has been encouraging, but we have some restrictions in terms of those who can participate owing to racing authority and state government guidelines which is far from ideal.
However, the stock is of good quality and the consistent success of Easter graduates over the years sets a strong precedent for the likelihood of top-class racehorses emerging from this session of the sale.
TDN: What COVID-19 related precautions have you in place for people attending the sale?
SH: We have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place which takes into account the prescribed guidelines from the relevant authorities and has been approved by them. We require all attendees at the complex, be they vendors, buyers or staff to register their attendance in advance of the sale through a portal available on our website. We will be implementing social distancing measures and promoting good hygiene as a matter of priority. We are conscious of creating an environment that is safe for our patrons, who we know are excited at the prospect of being able to attend and participate in a series of live sales again.
TDN: As expected for an Easter Sale, there looks to be a strong group of horses on paper. Could you highlight a few that would especially appeal to an international audience.
SH: We are very pleased with how the catalog has come together. It is made-up primarily of horses that were not offered at the sale in April, horses that are effectively new to our buying bench. A huge part of the appeal of the Australian market is that if buyers, domestically or internationally, want access to the progeny of I Am Invincible (Aus) or Snitzel (Aus), two of the best stallions in the world, they have to shop in Australasia.
We are fortunate to have quality offerings by each in the sale, in particular through the Yulong draft. The I Am Invincible/Gypsy Diamond colt, lot 85, is a star, as is the Snitzel/Gypsy Tucker filly, lot 86. The Yulong draft is the highlight of the sale. Yulong is a hugely progressive breeding operation that has made massive investment in quality stock in recent years and this is reflected in the strength of their draft.
In terms of other stallions, it is fantastic to have Frankel (GB) and American Pharoah well represented in the sale. Over 30% of Frankel's Australasian-bred progeny are black-type horses while American Pharoah, as expected, looks to be making a big impression with his first 3-year-olds in the Northern Hemisphere.
The timing of the sale is also potentially advantageous to some of the younger stallions, a prime example being Vancouver (Aus) who has enjoyed a purple patch with his first 2-year-olds since May, with five individual winners and a stakes winner, pegging him as a really exciting prospect going forward.
From a pedigree point of view, among the most interesting are the Capitalist/Savannah's Choice filly, lot 39, who is out of a half-sister to the dam of 3 champions in Japan including Saturnalia (Jpn), as well as the I Am Invincible/Miss Atom Bomb colt, lot 95, who is out of a half-sister to the great Winx (Aus).
TDN: What's the best way for international participants unable to travel to get involved? Will there be an option for online bidding?
SH: As is the case for all of our auctions, we will have our online bidding service available. Interested parties just need to visit https://inglis.com.au/sales/onlinebidding/ and follow the simple process to register.
Additionally, we will have the sale streamed live through our website. The sale will be worked by many of Australia's leading agents and trainers, while the Inglis Bloodstock Team is always available to assist. I encourage anyone who is considering getting involved in the sale to contact a member of our team and every effort will be made to facilitate any requirements.