Justin Snaith will train last Thursday’s R3 million Cape Premier Yearling Sale top price, the Silvano colt I Want It All who was purchased by Nic Jonsson and Bjorn Neilsen. Snaith trained the grandam Captain’s Lover and her half-sister Ebony Flyer to win the Cape Fillies Guineas in 2007 and 2010. This is also the family of Vardy.
However the price was R1 million less than last year’s top and only half the R6 million paid for Charles at this sale in 2017 and for the little-remembered Silver Coin the previous year.
Indeed the figures for last Thursday’s event are frightening, or at least they are at first glance. The R326 531 average was down by 25% – it has fallen in each of the last three years and is less than half what it was in 2017. Turnover has also fallen consistently over the same period and the R56.4 million aggregate was down by almost a third this time.
The fall was accentuated by pre-sale expectation. Sales boss Wehann Smith had said: “I’m quite positive. The news about a pending solution in the export side is firm enough to make an impact.”
That was also a view held by many people and some translated it into a 10% increase. “That was over-optimistic,” said Bryn Ressell’s racing manager Mark van Deventer. “People have heard this [re the exports] so often that they have become a bit cynical. They want to see it become reality.”
Brett Crawford, who trains Charles, said: “Don’t forget, three years ago we had Markus Jooste and he brought some big players with him. It was a buyer’s market last week and there were some nice horses to be had at good value.”
John Freeman listed the economy as well as the Jooste factor but he also mentioned more technical issues. “Three years ago there were yearlings by five top stallions whereas this time the market was out of kilter as far as the new rising stars are concerned. I bought horses well below their value.”
Fellow bloodstock agent Jehan Malherbe added: “The market is struggling. It’s because of the economy and the situation that racing is in with stakes coming down and expenses going up. It’s going to be a tough year for breeders”
Opinions vary about the effect of the loss of the two CTS R5 million sales races (Van Deventer: “Having a big incentive like that does attract buyers”) but Peter de Beyer believes the whole market is shrinking and that people have to adjust.
The owner-breeder is also an actuary, a former deputy managing director of Old Mutual and still on the board. “The number of foals registered each year has gone from 3 000 to 1 600 in recent years,” he said. “I worked out that 75% of horses sold at auction last year were sold at a loss.”
As he says himself: “Sometimes it’s depressing to be good at numbers!”
By Michael Clower