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The 2020 Cape Premier Yearling Sale recorded a sharp drop in prices from last year’s auction – reflecting pessimism in the horse racing industry and the gloomy state of South Africa’s economy.
Held in Cape Town’s International Conference Centre, the sale on Thursday saw 173 horses change hands for R56 490 000 – a decline of 32.4% in the aggregate, or total amount, spent (last year, 192 sold for R83 560 000).
The average price paid dipped 25% from R435 208 to R326 531. The median price was down from R300 000 to R250 000.
Speaking to Tab News, Wehaan Smith, CEO of Cape Thorough-bred Sales, commented: “Considering the economic climate, both macro and micro, we came into the sale with limited expectations. But all said and done, it’s still a significant amount of money and we still see a R3 million colt and a R2.2 million colt, and two fillies over R1 million, in trying times as positive.
“The most positive thing of all, as I went through the buyers’ list, is that there’s certainly new money and certainly new international money, so internationals are faster to seize the opportunities than us locals, with exports opening up soon.”
Smith was referring to the European Union’s imminent audit of South Africa’s protocols on African horse sickness, which is expected to result in a significant easing of the export rules for this country’s horses.
Locally bred thoroughbreds have proven to be competitive against the world’s best, so removing onerous travel restrictions would be a major boost for South African breeders and its racing industry – particularly as the country’s horses are cheap by international standards.
The top lot at the Cape Premier sale, a colt called I Want It All by champion sire Silvano, was bought for R3 million from Drakenstein Stud by prominent local owner Nic Jonsson. Two un-named colts – by Gimmethegreenlight and new stallion Rafeef – fetched R2.2 million apiece. The latter was acquired by international bloodstock agent Amanda Skiffington on behalf of Jersey-based owner Fiona Carmichael.
The top-priced filly, All That Jazz by Trippi, was bought by New Zealand agent Ric Wylie for R1.65 million and is understood to be destined for Australia.
Smith pointed to another possible reason for the subdued action at the sale: a transition period in the ranks of the country’s top sires, with the likes of former champions Captain Al and Dynasty having died in recent years.
“There are no Captain Als any more, there were very few Dynastys on the sale and Silvano is 20-something, so does not have a full book of mares. Trippi is 20-something with fertility issues,” he told Tab News.
“So, we are now relying on the Gimmethegreenlights, Queraris and What A Winters – the next generation – to step up and take over those names and I don’t think our markets are at the point, as it showed today, that people are willing to pay the really big numbers for those sires.”
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