HTBA Yearling Sale 40 Years On

HTBA Yearling Sale 40 Years On

Featured Image: Front cover of the catalogue for the HTBA Scone Yearling Sale 12 May 2019

I could start with yet another hoary old cliché; but I won’t! I decided for no good reason to compare the HTBA promoted yearling sales after 40 years of ‘progress’. I have written about the First Annual Scone Yearling Sale before and elsewhere.


Retrospective Analysis

The catalogue for both sales lists 204 lots which is a remarkable coincidence. In 1979 there were 76 vendors with the largest drafts coming from Miss Anne Raymond’s Sledmere Stud (13) and Holbrook Partnership Widden Valley (8). All but one of Sledmere’s consignment were by ‘Eucalyptus’ (GB). In 2019 there are 52 vendors with the major consignments coming from Ambergate Farm (11), Arrowfield (9), Davali Thoroughbreds (8), Middlebrook Valley Lodge (17), Sledmere Stud (10), Vinery Stud (13) and Widden Stud (20). Only Holbrook Thoroughbreds, Sledmere Stud, Segenhoe/Vinery, Widden Stud, Yarraman Park Stud and possibly the Baker family of Port Macquarie/Wauchope as vendors are common to both catalogues although some under new ownership and/or name/location.

In 1979 a total of 87 sires had progeny in the sale contrasting with 71 stallions in 2019. The most represented sires in 1979 were Eucalyptus GB (12), Fleeting Orbit USA (7) and Tall Dream IRE (9). The equivalences in 2019 are Bull Point (10), Nicconi (9), Outreach (12), Scissor Kick (9), Shamus Award (8), Smart Missile (7), Super One (10) and Wandjina (10).

Of 71 the stallions listed in 1979 perhaps only Agricola (1), Baguette (1), Convamore (1), King of Babylon (1), Lunchtime (1), Sostenuto (1), Vain (1) and Vibrant (3) would be rated as ‘successful sires’? The jury is still out for 2019 although Brazen Beau (1), Dundeel NZ (1), Hinchinbrook (2), More Than Ready (1), Nicconi (9), Not A Single Doubt (1), Rubick (3), Sebring (2), Smart Missile (7), So You Think NZ (2) and Star Witness (7) could mount strong claims? Others may yet emerge most likely from the new season sires.

In 1979 the sale was a ‘stand-alone’ promotion on Sunday 4th March. In 2019 the offering reverts to the traditional date during the Scone Horse Festival in May.

Prospective Study & Philosophical Purview

I think it would be fair to argue that the sale itself has not come a long way since the early enthusiastic and buoyant predictions a purported by Peter Hodgson and others. It’s still a ‘cull offering’ at the very tail of the selling season and has not transcended the high ideals as espoused by Peter and others. I would like to see a greater commitment by the local breeders but I think it’s a remote possibility. The signature sale envisaged by the inaugural committee is at best a pipe dream.

Small ‘hobby breeders’ (like me) provided over half the catalogue for the 1979 sale. These were usually based on farms scattered throughout the Upper Hunter Valley and beyond. They no longer exist and are consigned to the scrap heap of history; unless? The more stringent (and costly) requirements of the revamped Australian Stud Book have made it much more expensive to breed thoroughbred yearlings. The vicissitudes of ‘unmanageable’ climate changes (droughts) and consequent escalating feed costs have not helped.

However the sale has produced a host of racetrack stars in recent years including G1 winning sprinter Voodoo Lad, G2 winning 2YO’s Time For War and Look To The Stars as well as Stakes winner Rom Baro. Perhaps the real chance of selecting an elite performer is about the same or similar to any other sale?

It is just possible that recent exponential increases in prize money for all three grades of racing in NSW especially will attract these potential breeders back into the fold? However the way the breeding industry is structured and dominated by the larger stallion stations will make it very hard for the ‘farmer breeder’ with a few mares and/or a new stallion?

Not long before he died I visited Mr A O Ellison at ‘Kilwinning’. As I  was leaving, and the last time we spoke, he told me in his best clipped barrister’s tone: “Bill, let me tell you, you have to be a very wealthy man to go chasing thoroughbred horses”! He was talking about someone else but I think it was then that I decided to quit when well ahead?

Footnote HTBA Scone Yearling Sale 2019: Acknowledge Brian Russell ‘Australian Thoroughbred May 2019’

Sires with three or more lots are Bull Point (10, first crop of four times winner and two Group1 thirds son of Fastnet Rock), Choisir (3), Dawn Approach (Ire) (3), Deep Field (4), Delago Deluxe (4), Denman (4), Dream Ahead (USA) (4), Eurozone (3), Foxwedge (4), Hallowed Crown (3), Headwater (4), Nicconi (9), Olympic Glory (Ire) (3), Outreach (12), Panzer Division (4), Pluck (USA) (3), Press Statement (4), Rubick (3), Scissor Kick (9), Shamus Award (8), Shooting to Win (4), Smart Missile (7), Star Witness (7), Super One (10), Time For War (3) and Wandjina (10).

Leading vendors are Amarina Farm (5), Ambergate Park (10), Arrowfield (9), Kingstar Farm (6), Middlebrook Valley Lodge (I7), Newhaven Park (4), Sledmere (10), Southern Cross Breeders (6), Toolooganvale (4), Vinery (13), Widden (20) and Yarraman Park (5).

All Scone yearlings are eligible for $8million Inglis Race Series and the bulk of them for the lucrative NSW BOBS rewards.