26th Nov 2012
We are in the middle of the breeding stock sales where mares and foals change ownership and the dreams change address. Pinhookers buy foals to resell as yearlings (disclosure – I have been doing so most of my life). These creatures are considered by some as the financial lifeblood of the industry allowing for an accelerated payback on breeding investment in a market which is intense and ultracompetitive. Others see pinhookers as bloodsucking parasites feeding off the imagination and industry of others. Whatever the view, the trade at Goffs was frenzied at times as the traders stocked up for next Autumn, trying to spot the trendy sire of the “growthy” foal as one auctioneer repeatedly described them. One thing is sure, it is an efficient market which rarely misses an accurate valuation or appraisal and which has become ruthless in its condemnation of the lesser lights.
Speaking of lights, I have never seen so many veterinary endoscopes at a sale. If they were tied end-to-end they could have formed a nice decoration for the Goffs building in this Christmas season. (Disclosure- I am a vet). Apart from the decorative effect, replacing the gold medallion as the jewellery of choice, the benefit and acuity of the procedure is out of proportion to the cost and negative impact. Amajor leap forward in recent times has been the “overland” or galloping scope. This records laryngeal function at full tilt and has revealed how limited the once-off examination at rest can be. The larynx is complicated and flexible, designed to bend and twist, expand and contract and which also grows as the animal grows. It suffers from some serious developmental problems on rare occasions, and is known to be a limiter of performance on many occasions. I am not sure how accurate the examination of foals can be, on the most stressful day of their short lives. Answers on a postcard please.
Whatever the opinion of people or procedure, the vibrancy of the bloodstock market is astonishing and it has been a relief to see some confidence restored to the trading scene. I keep repeating that the benefits do not reach everybody, and that many animals fail to recoup their costs. It will always be that way and no system of financing the industry can provide for certainty of return. The prospect of a big win has always been enough to create a market which has been described every year of my life thus: “foals were fierce dear”.