The Annual Merry Go Round

Its sales time once again, there was a time when this was harvest season for us breeders, now its a time for trepidation and doubt and hope as one hopes to sell the stock that has taken us three years of toil to bring so far with their limbs and airways intact. The TDS issue made last year’s sale one of the worst ever, many horses that were produced for racing ended up as horses for riding and polo instead. A severe correction has taken place and as a result we are sans Doaba, Mare Haven, Arabesque, Sunder and a few other farms. Once again the main track is not available for us to roll on to show our stock. Instead we pay ₹ 12,500 plus service tax, for a stable and a free suntan over four gruelling days. The RWITC clears a nice profit from the sale yet never is any of that money used to promote the sale, its put away into its coffers to subsidise their losses from the activity of Racing. One hopes this year things will be better as the TDS issue has been sorted out and the foal crop is smaller after ballooning to almost 2000 in last year’s crop. The market is healthy when production goes below 1400, we’re not there yet but will be there as soon as next year.

Many successful stud farmers succumbed to what can only be termed as greed as they expanded their broodmare bands to excessive numbers, one understands a lot of them are now reducing to more manageable numbers. So lets hope this year’s sale doesn’t see local Pune breeders hijacking buyers from the Turf Club to show them unsold stock at their farms. You know who you are and one hopes the 12,500 plus service tax that you save is keeping you in a healthy state of profit! Be ashamed of yourselves as you are cheating your brethren! Similarly anybody promoting their new stallion, make sure you at least serve good biryani, that 2 minute pasta that you served last year is etched in the memory of at least one senior trainer. Another complaint; a new farm never entered even one horse for the sales but bought ad space in the catalogue to advertise their wares and then proceeded to take people from the sales grounds to a private stable nearby and sold their stock, so once again you know who you are and what you did last year was in very poor taste.

Similarly the sales have spawned a certain breed of perverse humans who are having breakfast in the canteen early on the first day and then strut around for the duration of the sale pulling out every horse and never making an offer. There’s a big dark guy and a fat fair guy with shades and catalogues tucked underarm, BREEDERS BEWARE these guys are wasting your time. I’d also like to encourage all of you to contribute names of bum buyers who fail to honour their debts, its kind of sad that many of these guys are part of the polity of race clubs too and as such maintain a veneer of false respect.

Anyway a lot of selling has already taken place and I’d be amiss not to say that things are better this year not just at the higher end of the market but at the mid and lower levels too, one of my colleagues in Punjab had 3 for sale and has already sold two, he would have sold the third too but wanted to at least bring a horse to the sales, just as a PR exercise. Similarly there is a huge misconception that the horses that come to the sales are left overs. To put things in perspective Malpensa with earnings in excess of a Crore was a 4.5 Lakh Pune sales buy by the late Nana Raghunath, Suzanna a winner of two Millions at Calcutta was also bought by her owner and trainer at last year’s sales. Similarly Fly like The Wind was on offer and after the sale a Mumbai owner passed on her because he felt that my asking price was too high, after almost 90 Lakhs in earnings and big race wins for my partners who got into her and myself I thank god she ended up where she did because its been fun racing her. Honestly as a breeder its impossible to know for sure whats your best stock, as a racing man I would have raced them myself. I have seen trainer S Padmanabhan buy top runner Diamantaire at the sales as well from Usha Stud and Indian 1000 Guineas and PBM winner Winning Pretty too for Feroz Khan from us.

So as a buyer do the right thing, select your horses on looks then see your pedigrees, see who turns out their horses looking well then get into the nitty gritties of turned in and turned outs, remember procedures like knee stapling and periosteal stripping can make a crooked horse look correct. Know your budget and make sure that you stick to your payment plan because the breeder whom you are buying from has spent on that horse with no return so far, once you’ve shook be honourable and be good with your payments, its greatly appreciated and makes your reputation better. There was a time when all horses were sold at the auction which today can only be classified as an utter waste of time. I’d love to put a few in the ring but once again perception messes it up since the moment a horse goes into the ring the feeling is that the horse is a crock, so us breeders shun the ring instead. Its a vicious cycle but sales in an auction ring is the only way things will settle down for both owners and breeders. Full disclosure by breeders too is the need of the hour and the club should invest in a digital endoscope and X Ray repository in order to make buyers more comfortable, testing for Anabolics by the sales company ie RWITC would also be a step in the right direction? A lot of breeders are already doing scoping and X Rays at a private level. So its on to Pune for the sales, most of the stock from Punjab is already at the sales grounds since they need the extra time to recover from their journeys from up North.

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