Technology steps up at yearling sales

By Michael Guerin

One of the men responsible for selling our elite yearlings at the up-coming sales loves the fact standardbred vendors are embracing technology to fill the void for potential buyers who can’t be there in person.

And that has even extended to pre-sale endoscopic reports in what is a rarity for standardbred sales in this part of the world, which New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred’s James Jennings says is a very smart move.

“Because the standardbreds are so clean winded 99 per cent of them come back great so the scoping is a really good move,” he offers.

Endoscopic examination of the upper respiratory tract has been a common post-sale practice in thoroughbred sales since 1995 but even more common place these days are pre-sales examinations which are placed in a repository at the sales allowing vets to check horses airways for potential buyers before they bid.

That and x-rays have become huge determinants of how thoroughbred yearlings sell but the harness racing industry has been far less demanding in those regards.

Some would say, in the case of x-rays, that could be a good thing, some would say it is shooting in the dark.

But in this new era when Australian buyers can’t be at the sales grounds because of travel restrictions, the more information vendors can supply the better and Jennings says three of the biggest preparers for the Karaka sale which starts at noon on Sunday have embraced that.

“Woodlands, Breckon Farms and Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson have all taken pre-sale scopes and we think that is great,” says Jennings.

“It provides even more info for potential buyers which might make them more comfortable, particularly if they are considering making a significant purchase.

“And the real beauty of it is the standardbreds scope so well. 99.9 per cent of the time the scopes are great because as a breed they have big open airways and most of them scope as 1 or 2s (good airways with no expected breathing issues).

“So we applaud vendors for doing it.” Logan Hollis, who prepares a very strong 15-horse draft for Karaka, says 13 of theirs have been scoped and it is just another level of professionalism as the standardbred industry tries to rise to the levels of the thoroughbred sales.

“We had one owner who didn’t bother getting them done but we are happy to do them and provide buyers with some extra peace of mind,” says Hollis, who says he has his best ever draft.

Jennings says vendors have excelled this year with the standards of their photos, video presentations and overall information for buyers, again crucial for the Australian market. “We have already had two of the biggest Australian buyers register and we expect plenty more.”

One of those buyers, Jean Feiss, says she intends to buy New Zealand yearlings but as a very hands-on buyer she misses seeing them up close.

“It is definitely different not being there,” laments Feiss.

“You miss the atmosphere and knowing who you are bidding against as well as I usually see the horses at different stages in the months leading up to the sales.

“So I really miss all that but I will be still looking to buy.”

Jennings says for all the information available online for most yearlings going under the hammer next week, some buyers who can’t get to yearling tours and inspections have been going straight to the source.

“A lot of people are using Facetime for real time inspections,” he explains.

“I have been on the Southland yearling tour this week where there have been some stunning yearlings and a lot of people had their phones out and I thought they were videoing the horses.

“But when you get closer you realise they are actually talking to somebody on Facetime and showing them the yearling at the same time.

“So people are really embracing the technology which can only help come Sunday and next week.”

The yearling parade for the Karaka sale starts at 1pm on Saturday with the first lot under the hammer at noon on Sunday before the sales heads to Canterbury on Monday.

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