Japanese breeders and consignors celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale with collective jumps in the air while clapping their hands on Sunday night at the urging of JRHA Vice Chairman Teruya Yoshida.
But despite that exuberant display of enthusiasm during a party at the Northern Horse Park, even Yoshida expressed a note of caution. The sale begins on Monday with 157 yearlings catalogued and continues with Tuesday and Wednesday sessions for which 329 foals were consigned.
“The market is still very strong. Our economy is coming up and many people have an interest in horses,” Yoshida said during an interview. “But since last year’s sale was so overheated, maybe people will be a little more reluctant. We don’t know what will happen.”
A world record price for a foal or weanling was established at the 2006 JRHA sale when Nobutaka Tada of Globe Equine Management Co. bid 600 million yen ($5,217,391) for a filly by Japanese champion King Kamehameha out of Dubai World Cup (UAE- I) runner-up To the Victory.
Sale records also were set for gross (8,340,500,000 yen or $72,526,087) and average (37,739,819 yen or $328,172) for the foal sessions, and a Japanese record for a yearling was reached when a colt by Pivotal from the family of Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact was sold for 205,000,000 yen ($1,798,245).
Some of the uncertainty in the current market stems from the fact that no heir to the late Sunday Silence has risen yet to claim the mantle of dominant stallion in Japan.
“We don’t know where the good horses are coming from now,” Yoshida noted. “Before, everyone was buying the offspring of Sunday Silence. Everybody is watching all the horses very carefully now. It’s a good thing for the market.”
Yoshida spent part of Sunday afternoon greeting a group of new owners belonging to a racing syndicate who traveled by a tour bus to his Shadai Farm to inspect foals. “We are teaching them how to buy horses,” he said.
Later, at the party, he reflected on the past decade, beginning when the sale was inaugurated in 1998 with concern from breeders who were more comfortable with the old system of private sales and thus were worried they might not make as much money from an auction.
“Now people are doubling their prices so it was a very good business decision after all,” said Yoshida, laughing and declaring that “It would be my dream to have a very competitive horse in the international field” emerge from this year’s sale.
Leaders of the Japanese industry have been trying to cultivate buyers from other countries to attend the sale as well as improve Japan’s standing on the world racing stage.
The sale features grade/group I bloodlines from every continent that offers racing. Catalog highlights include the first foals of elite runners such as European champion juvenile and dual French classic winner Shamardal; Dubai World Cup winner Roses in May; Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Motivator; Irish and English group I winner Oratorio; European champion Bago; Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy; Japan Cup (Jpn-I) winner Alkaased; multiple American grade I winner Rock Hard Ten; and Japanese champion miler and twice champion sprinter Durandal.
Internationally prominent sires represented by foals in the catalog include Kingmambo, Johannesburg, Pivotal, Rahy, Red Ransom, Singspiel, Unbridled's Song and Fusaichi Pegasus , while sires of yearlings include Mr. Greeley, Gone West, Moon Ballad and Grand Slam.
In the void created by the death in 2002 of Sunday Silence, who is again is leading all Japanese sires by a wide margin through the first half of 2007, his champion son Agnes Tachyon is making a move to become his heir. Currently second on the Japanese general sire list, Agnes Tachyon has a total of 31 yearlings and foals entered in the JRHA sale. Market leaders by numbers are King Kamehameha and fellow champion Kurofune, who each are represented by 38 offspring in the catalog.