By John Boyce
The European yearling market is positively booming. That’s the inescapable conclusion when we examine the returns this year and compare them to the results going back as far as 2010. And it’s not just the top of the market that is carrying the whole show, either. At every level from the elite end to the very bottom, there has been extraordinary growth. It is the kind of growth that would be the envy of almost any other industry.
Year-in and year-out, vendors will always be disappointed not to get their yearlings on the right final lists and will often cite the fact that only the elite yearlings are making proper money. That will always be the case–that’s how most markets work. But they can at least console themselves with the fact that investment in yearlings in Europe–at all levels–is most definitely progressing in the right direction.
The top 10% of the market is undoubtedly very lucrative. The average price in this segment was £234k this year, up from £212k a year ago. That represents an increase of 9.4%. In fact, the top segment has risen every year since 2010, when the average price was less than half what it is now. But it’s the same story with every other segment in the market as well. The sixth decile, which is just below the middle market, shows just as much growth–up 14.3% on last year and 100% on 2010. That’s £19k to £37k in less than 10 years. Even the bottom 10% is up 12% on 2017 and nearly 100% on 2010.
The growth is all the more impressive when we take into account the supply side of the equation. The number of yearlings offered at European sales this year looks very much like it did in 2010, but there is an upward trend in the period: in 2011 just over 6,000 yearlings were offered for sale, compared to over 7,100 last year. Clearance rates are also at their highest in recent years at around 79%. Remarkably, the growth in stud fees in the same period for those sires with 10 or more yearlings sold looks comparatively subdued at 11%.