Contract strategy leaves the door open

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Trade was strong last week at the prestigious Goffs Orby sale in Kill. The best buyers in global industry were there, hoping to find the equine equivalent of the next David Clifford, Joe Canning or Johnny Sexton.

Earling sales are generally fascinating because they’re a bit like trying to find a diamond in the rough. The sales catalog included 444 horses with an average price of 109,000 euros and a top lot of 1.5 million euros. One of my best friends, David Cox, was one of the largest consignors there with 40 year olds sold on behalf of breeders. He and his team operate a high-performance environment in which every horse is meticulously prepared to look at its best during the sales week. These horses are unbroken, however, so they are unproven.

The sales catalog is published weeks in advance and buyers study it like a set of notes from a grind school the night before Leaving Cert. Spotters visit and observe the yearlings on their farms throughout the summer. Those that catch the eye are checked again at the time of sale and a second and third opinion is often obtained. Breed, height, temperament, gait, athleticism, and budget are part of the decision-making process. The day you buy is the day you sell and one bad choice could be enough to wipe you out.


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