Cape Racing Sales: Exciting New Developments Announced

The future looks bright!

After a highly successful edition of the CRS Premier Yearling Sale powered by Tattersalls in January of this year, Cape Racing Sales has announced exciting changes to its sales plans and calendar for 2025.

Since 2022, the South African thoroughbred auction sector has seen a substantial increase in average prices of thoroughbreds sold via auction.

This increase is undoubtedly linked to Cape Racing’s significant investment into the industry in the same year. A renewed demand for thoroughbred stock has been created, as reflected in the superior mean and median prices on the sales.

For example, the mean sales price at the CRS January 2024 sale of R545,336 compared favourably to the R443,812 mean price in 2023 (an increase of 23%), with a median sales price at the CRS January 2024 sale of R400,000, compared to R300,000 in 2023 (an increase of 33%).

Over this period, vendor support for CRS has been steadily growing. The 122 lots catalogued for the first edition of the CRS Premier Yearling Sale in January 2023 steadily grew by over 11% to 136 lots catalogued in January 2024.

The most pleasing statistic for the CRS team was the receipt of 280 entries for the 2024 sale. This figure was almost double the original entry from the 2023 auction. This is a clear indicator of increased trust in the performance of CRS, off the back of a successful 2023 auction, and the increased desire to sell quality stock in the Cape.  This enabled the sales inspectors to select the highest quality draft available for the sale, ultimately translating into healthy mean and median sales increases.

New Sales Calendar

After continued dialogue and engagements with our customers, our owners, our vendors, and our other stakeholders, CRS is pleased to announce an enhanced sales calendar for 2025, which will now include two “select” sales.

The revised sales calendar for 2025 is now as follows:

  • 23 January 2025 – Cape Racing Sales  Met Sale
  • 15 March 2025 – Cape Racing Sales Premier Yearling Sale
  • 16 June 2025 – Cape Racing Sales Winter Yearling Sale
  • 27 October 2025 – Cape Racing Sales Ready to Run Sale

Justin Vermaak (Cape Racing’s Executive: Racing & Bloodstock) explained the thinking behind the expansion:

“Going into the recent January sale, our team discussed, at length, the various options regarding the January sale and its date. It was clear to us, after vendor and buyer consultation, that the time of the sale would never be ideal for preparing large numbers of the highest quality yearlings.

Therefore, we planned to delay our select sale into March, which is more accommodating to vendors and thus will attract a larger bench of higher quality stock than would otherwise be achieved in the January sale.

However, after observing the overwhelming success of the recent January sale, it was clear that there was strong demand for a sale in this time slot just before the Cape Town Met. We have therefore decided to split this sale into two select sales, one in January and one in March.

Our January sale will be named the Cape Racing Sales Met Sale and will be held during Cape Town Met week. The Cape Racing Sales Met Sale will be a boutique high-end sale, providing the most precocious and highest quality of yearlings.

This sale will be fashioned after the Goffs London Sale, which takes place in Kensington Palace Gardens in the build-up to Royal Ascot – a smaller, select, high-quality sale to take place in the week leading up to a prestigious race meeting. 

The Cape Racing Sales Premier Yearling Sale will now be held in March and will reflect a more extensive catalogue. The extra few months will allow a larger group of prospective entries that could not historically be ready and prepped in time for a January auction. Having the second sale in March will also ensure we do not have to turn away hundreds of vendor entries.

After consultation with our colleagues at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and our numerous other international buyers, we settled on a date in the middle of March, which is perfectly placed between the two Inglis sales held in Melbourne and in Sydney towards the beginning of March and April, respectively.

This gives our Asian-based buyers the opportunity to make all three sales. Furthermore, for our European buyers who are avid fans of the Cheltenham Festival, the sale is positioned just after the event’s conclusion. When we add to that the fantastic weather in Cape Town in March, we believe we have found the ideal date for a select sale of this nature.”

New Sales Races

As part of our plans to create a successful sale, it is our intent to host a Cape Racing Sales race day on March 16th, the day after the Cape Racing Sales Premier Yearling Sale.

This race day will play host to our newly established sales races:

  • The Cape Racing Sales Slipper (1200m / 2yos) – R3,000,000
  • The Cape Racing Sales Classic (1600m / 3yos) – R1,000,000
  • The Cape Racing Sales Sprint (1200m / 3yos) – R1,000,000

These races will be open for ALL graduates of Cape Racing Sales auctions throughout the year.

The race meeting will be incorporated into the Summer Festival as the eighth Festival meeting of the season.

We are thus extending the Festival to a mid-March ending as opposed to the end of February as it is currently.

New Sales Venue

A decision has also been made to hold all the sales at the newly renovated Hollywoodbets Kenilworth going forward.

Greg Bortz, Chairman of Cape Racing, added:

“The CTICC has been a fantastic host over our first two editions of the sale. The venue does not come cheap, however, and we would much rather reinvest that expenditure into the industry in the form of prize money and incentives. 

We have built a world-class home at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and plan to utilise our home base for our sales going forward. 

I am pleased to announce to our breeders that plans are afoot to build a stunning sales complex at the course.

We cannot expect our vendors to sell their best horses with us unless we can provide a venue that is befitting of their support. We will be levelling the holding box area behind our current saddling boxes.

This area will be built into a sales complex and serve a dual purpose as holding boxes for our runners on race days. We will provide a world-class facility for our vendors to show their high-quality stock and confidently sell at our auctions.

Our sales facility will match the standards already set at the new Hollywoodbets Kenilworth while retaining the feel of our heritage buildings on-site. We can say with a high degree of confidence that all will be ready for the 2026 sales.

We are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that all will be ready for the 2025 sales too, but that is a little more uncertain.

All work requires plans, permits, and approvals from the City of Cape Town and other bodies, which is a process we do not control.

Furthermore, add to this the increased degree of difficulty of construction during the lead-up to our summer season and our big feature race days, and one can understand why the January 2025 sale might be a little too soon for us, as may be the March 2025 sale.

But we have pulled rabbits out of hats before, and we will strive for more such outcomes in the nine months ahead! In summary, all the sales from 2026 and thereafter will be held at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.

Regarding the 2025 sales, we are confident that the sales in the latter half of the year will be held here too. The January 2025 and March 2025 sales are more uncertain – the ability for the sales to be held at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth will depend on the state of completion of the construction.

Should it not be possible, an appropriate alternate venue will be identified.”

New CRS Advisory Committee

Cape Racing Sales is also announcing an important enhancement and addition to the structure of the sales company, namely the formation of the CRS Advisory Committee, which will comprise up to eleven breeder representatives and two representatives from Cape Racing Sales.

Explained Justin Vermaak:

“At Cape Racing, we always try to be as dynamic and forward-thinking as possible. The thoroughbred auction business is a global industry. New initiatives and developments from various sales houses around the globe are being rolled out on a constant basis, and we need to stay abreast of the changes. It is essential for us to stay current and connected, with the hope of global exports opening in due course. We have therefore decided to build an advisory committee around Cape Racing Sales. The committee will meet at least three times a year to discuss global trends and provide feedback on matters that affect our service delivery as a company, as well as to discuss initiatives for our upcoming sales. We have invited five breeder members onto the committee during this first phase of the launch. We plan to invite the remaining breeder members over the next few months. We are encouraging breeders interested in giving up some of their time and expertise to put their hand up for consideration. We would like to add to the geographical and size diversity of the breeders on the committee in keeping with the inclusive spirit of our sales company.”

Greg Bortz added further:

“The feedback and reaction from our breeders has been terrific and enthusiastic, and for this we are most grateful. Having an extra select sale during a peak month in the Cape makes a lot of sense. Our breeders are committed to selling their highest quality lots on our sales.

The logistics of having the sales at our Hollywoodbets Kenilworth home, 200 metres away from the country’s only free-zone quarantine station, is a bit of a “no-brainer”. We look forward to the continued upward trajectory in our sales mean and median prices and the continued resurgence in our breeding industry around the country.”

The initial members of the CRS Advisory Committee are as follows:

  • Avontuur Stud – Ms Pippa Mickleburgh
  • Drakenstein Stud – Mrs Gaynor Rupert
  • Maine Chance Farms – Dr Andreas Jacobs
  • Ridgemont Stud – Mr Wayne Kieswetter
  • Varsfontein Stud – Mrs Susan Rowett
  • Cape Racing Sales – Mr Gregory Bortz
  • Cape Racing Sales – Mr Justin Vermaak

For racing queries and sales queries, contact Justin Vermaak at [email protected] or Janine van Blerk at [email protected]

  • Media release by Cape Racing Sales on Tuesday, 19 March 2024.

 

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