Breeder Says Stallion Fees Need Revisiting

'We need more sales companies'

There’s no secret that at Heversham Park we are continuously attempting to upgrade our broodmare band and our stallion offerings.

Over the past three years we have been searching and considering stallion prospects from all corners of the globe, writes Nigel Riley.

Nigel Riley – gives his opinion

One of the rather alarming factors in our search is that on many occasions we have been offered the same horse at vastly different prices by different Bloodstock agents; leading me to believe that I have a rather large – but only visible to a select few sellers of horses) expletive starting with the letter “C” tattooed on my forehead.

The results of the recent TBA yearling sales must also place in question the appropriateness of the current various stallions advertised fees.

There is no doubt that a mere handful of breeders cannot produce enough stock to satisfy the demands of the South African racing market, and as such the smaller commercial breeders must also have a place in the industry.

However excessive stallion fees, together with the high costs of selling yearlings and poor sales returns have, in my opinion, been one of the primary causes of the demise of many of this country’s breeders.

I am well aware that the high cost of selling yearlings in this country is one of respected bloodstock agent David Allan’s well considered gripes, and I can only wholeheartedly agree with him in this regard.

The reality in the present situation is that whether the vendors sell their offered horses or not, and regardless of whether the sales companies have properly marketed the sales; the sales companies still earn substantial commissions.

It is for this reason that it is imperative to buyers, breeders and sellers of horses that there is a multiplicity of sales companies, and that such sales companies are independent entities competing against each other.

The present system of commissions on reserve prices means that the sales companies financially benefit regardless of whether a vendor’s horse is sold or not, therefore they have no “skin in the game”, as they are in a “win win situation” with no downside for themselves.

Nigel chats to the TBA’s Catherine Hartley

This can never be a commercially acceptable situation and as such, especially in the present difficult times that the industry is experiencing, must be reconsidered. I also do not believe that presently the two big sales companies compete against each other in the truest sense of the word as it appears that they have entered into some type of agreement as to which of them sells, where and when.

Anyway I shall leave that issue to my much more experienced friend Mr Allan and instead share my thoughts and experiences on buying a stallion.

At Heversham we have discovered that determining what will make a good stallion is a complex operation.

First of all you have to work out whether the stallion is going to be popular enough that breeders will send mares to him because without the mares he’s not going to make it. That means he has to have a popular pedigree, be good looking and so will get good looking foals. He has to be a good enough racehorse to attract people as well. All of these requirements have to be subject to a balancing act and that is only to get people to send mares to him initially.

Then you have got to buy him at the right price that financially it makes sense. And that you can stand the stallion at a fee that enables people to make money out of him as well.

All of that before you go anywhere near trying to work out whether he can actually be a good stallion or not, which is at the end of the day the most important thing but constitutes the great unknown.

To do that, in my opinion he has got to be the best performed racehorse you can find at the price you can afford. There is no surprise that Jet Master and Dynasty were brilliant stallions because they were both brilliant race horses.

However, pedigree is important too. At Heversham we demand a sire line that works, but just as important for us is a dam line that works too.

Physically he has got to be able to get physical horses that look like they can run and furthermore, very importantly, a thing that often gets forgotten, he has got to get the proper temperament in his offspring.

All in all a piece of cake (not).

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