CTS CEO Wehann Smith presides over his second Cape Premier Yearling as the innovative sales company presents the ninth renewal of an annual event that turned our thoroughbred marketing landscape on its head when breaking ground in 2011.
Based in the heart of one of the world’s most beautiful cities, the Cape Premier Yearling Sale rides on the majestic back of the very best that the Mother City has to offer in a first-world experience that is sweetly timed in the week of the R5 million Sun Met – South Africa’s premier racing and social event.
Smith, an actuary by qualification, was appointed CEO in September 2017. The man who founded a major insurance industry player in Kuda Holdings in 2009, brought an eclectic mix of corporate acumen, sales synergy and common sense to the CTS table – but probably most importantly, a passion for the racehorse.
“It’s been an exciting ride so far. Selling thoroughbreds is a dynamic and demanding pursuit that requires flexibility, foresight and some good fortune. It’s in the nature of the game that we are subject to the vagaries of so many external uncontrollable factors. That’s why we have to have world-class housekeeping at the top of our priority list.”
He concedes that while the landscape has changed in his sixteen months at the helm, very little has actually changed in terms of CTS’ customer orientated philosophies.
We asked him why the move to shift the 2019 sale timing, and the shrink from two days to one.
“We took a broad view of it and given all the factors, it made good sense to adapt. Many have indicated a wish to attend the Karaka Book 1 Sale in New Zealand, which starts at 15h00 on Sunday 27 January. So that was a consideration. Then the Met is an internationally renowned horse race and having our sale in the week this great race is run is an added bonus for visitors.”
As regards the dropping of a second day, Smith points out that, while the fist day was historically well attended, the second session was often the poor cousin with shades of the post adrenaline ‘after-party’.
“The opening was always charged with excitement. Then the second day was off the dizzy high and was a bit flat. We have easily managed 250 lots comfortably in a session, so Wednesday’s 226 will be no problem at all.”
The recent Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale had shown the benefits of a strong international buying bench.
“Yes, every sale needs a mix of local and outside buyers. In hard currency terms, the Cape Premier Yearling Sale is one of the best value sales on earth in terms of value and quality. We hear that there is some great news around the corner on the export protocol progress front. All told, we have a very attractive product and every week we see how our horses are competitive globally.”
Smith says that there will definitely be an increased amount of foreign buyers here this week.
He confirmed that the CTS team had made strides with their marketing efforts in the UK, France and Hong Kong. “Our inward buyer incentive has attracted plenty of interest. We breed top horses. Cape Town is an attractive visitor destination. So we try and offer an all-round package that rounds off the experience.”
The logistics of getting 226 yearlings housed and settled in a city environment has been mastered by breeders. We asked if CTS were on top of things.
“Yes, it was a daunting task initially, but it’s a lot smoother now. Anne Dalton of Agri-Expo has mastered the stabling and internal infrastructure. They arrive on Thursday 18 January and the entire operation has to be out and the venue handed over by Met day, 26 January. We leave that exercise to the professionals!”
Smith said that the established auctioneering team of John O’Kelly, Andrew Miller and Grant Burns would be doing duty again. O’Kelly is one of the world’s most respected auctioneers. Miller is a household name at South African auctions and both vendors and buyers have been very impressed by Grant Burns’s style.
On the catalogue itself, Smith said that he would leave the analysis in the capable hands of the Sporting Post and the experts.
“I know it may sound cliched, but it really is a balanced catalogue with great depth amongst the dam lines. We have the established champion sires and the exciting new men. We also have international sires in the mix. And it’s the last chance to buy a Captain Al from the Cape Premier Yearling Sale. So there may be some interesting sentimental bidding for the champion’s last 9 lots!”
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