Above: Stripping Royalty is entered in the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale in May which will be online this year. She is already in foal to Swettenham Stud’s Puissance de Lune.
If you think racing is tough? Wait until you get into the breeding game!
For the last 5 – 10 years breeding has been perceived as a goldmine. Stallion service fees have sky-rocketed as have the price of broodmares, especially stakes winning mares. This over-inflation of price was due to the high quality of horses being bred in Australia, and the involvement of international buyers at our bloodstock sales.
We can confirm that finding quality horses at the right price has become very difficult in the last few years, and it’s safe to say that we have ventured all across Australia and beyond to find genuine value for our owners.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now sitting back and watching how the next 6 months in the breeding industry plays out.
January to April is when the mainstream yearling sales are held that most buyers attend, and it seems that most yearling sales were not grossly affected by COVID-19, except for Inglis Easter which is Australia’s biggest. Inglis did a great job of conducting it online and getting a lot of horses sold for breeders. There were however a large amount of yearlings withdrawn, and some high profile studs withdrawing their drafts, due to buyers not being able to view the yearlings.
The current state of play is that May and June will see the broodmare and weanling sales in full swing with Inglis and Magic Millions all in readiness. The current Inglis Digital platform, which conducts up to 10 online sales all year round, has been inundated this month with broodmares, weanlings and yearlings for sale. A third of the lots offered in the online sale are broodmares (189 of 564 lots) while an additional 94 are fillies and mares still in training. With a total 564 horse being offered, it’s a 50% increase in numbers and a sure sign that breeders are very nervous about what ramifications COVID-19 will have on the breeding industry.
During the week we have had Jeremy Rogers able to travel around Victoria under isolation guidelines looking at weanlings and yearlings in readiness for the sale that ends on Thursday. We have also had John Foote looking online in Queensland, but with limited opportunities of travel and not being able to inspect interstate horses, the mantra of both our agents has been not to buy unless we physically inspect them on farms.
The bigger issue for the breeding industry is that breeders need to sell their yearlings (albeit online) to afford the service fees for their mares in August this year. If they don’t sell their stock, they may be forced into not breeding this year or selling their mares in the upcoming broodmare sales.
So what does that mean for RTD, its mares and our owners?
Well we certainly expect that the recent value of broodmares to take a hit. We have spoken with our bloodstock agents, John Foote and Jeremy Rogers, and they are predicting a significant correction up to 40 – 60% from last season. The auction houses understandably are a little more positive in acknowledging a decline, but they are not prepared to stick their neck out and put a figure on it.
Like the property market, if you buy and sell in a low market then it’s all relative. The question for RTD and our owners is when will the broodmare market pick up, and when will our mares be ready for the breeding barn. Unfortunately, as is the case in all horses racing careers, it’s not up to us to decide. It will be the horse that makes the decision, and we will have to be prepared if that happens in the near future before the market picks back up.
Above: Jeremy Rogers inspecting yearlings at Three Bridges in Eddington this week.