New foreign buyers thin on the ground for Book 1
TATTERSALLS did not have to rely on foreign participation to buffer Book 1 from the effects of the economic downturn as the crisis in stock and money markets spread across the globe. Tattersalls officials could not say how many potential foreign buyers were likely to be on the grounds, as they do not register bidders ahead of the sale. However, accounts director Paul Ryan said: "We have several established customers from foreign areas, but there haven't been any major new approaches."
Mark Player, agent for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, was one of the most active early buyers from abroad. In between signing tickets for a 50,000gns Exceed And Excel colt and a 100,000gns colt by Danehill Dancer, he said he was hopeful of getting a higher quality yearling, on the same budget, than he might have before the economic crisis hit.
"I thinkthe market's adjusting, but you invariably end up trying to purchase a high-quality horse when the market goes down," said Player, who was buying horses to be resold at next year's Hong Kong International Sale of two-year-olds in training. "That's possibly why the market becomes polarised, because people take the opportunity to try to upgrade. It's always fun to shop above your limits, but at the end of the day we're always trying to get the best quality we can at an affordable price."
John Stuart of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services in Kentucky found the prices had not dropped enough to prevent him being outbid on his top choices. Representing American Andrew Rosen, whose current string in training with Brian Meehan includes Ribblesdale fourth-placed Icon Project, Stuart explained: "We buy fillies to race here, and then if they're good enough they'll go to America to race and either be sold or bred from.
He added: "We looked at some fillies and bid on a couple, and they were expensive."
Grant Pritchard-Gordon, who was accompanying Starcraft's owner Paul Makin, said there were a number of other Australian buyers on the grounds but it was uncertain how much they would be readyto spend.
"I know the Australians will be affected by the fact that the Australian dollar slumped against the US dollar this morning," he said. "I think everyone's guessing what will happen [in the economy].
Olin Gentry's new venture Legends Racing Stable made quite a splash when spending more than $12 million at last month's Keeneland September Yearling Sale. However, Gentry is at Park Paddocks this week as a seller rather than a buyer, with two US homebreds.
"We sell here when we think maybe the horse is more suitable here, and we'd like to have them race here for the dam's record," he said.
He added: "As far as our horses go, they'll probably bring as much here as theywould have at home. But you want to sell here so the horse will end up here."
Only three buyers have traveled from Japan this year, with two representing the Yoshida family's interests, said Naohiro Goda, Tattersalls' representative in Japan.
"I understand some Japanese owners are suffering quite seriously from the Lehman Brothers shock," Goda said. "This is a market which everyone expected would not be very strong, and now the yen is getting stronger so it should be a good opportunity to buy, but unfortunately the Japanese buyers mostly didn't come."