A recent court victory by leading Hong Kong owner and trainer Ivan Allan in England probably will not have ramifications for sale companies in this country, according to officials for Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton.
The Racing Post reported that Tattarsalls had sought a summary judgment for Allan to pay £555,187 (including tax and interest) for a yearling purchase he made last fall through bloodstock agent Anthony Stroud. However, the case was rejected on the grounds that the identity of the vendor was not known. The original seller listed on the Tattersalls application form apparently sold the Darshaan yearling for £180,000 to a third party the night before the horse went through the auction ring. Allan argued the transaction violated Tattersalls' conditions of sale. Stroud bought the yearling for 450,000 guineas.
Tattersalls officials plan to appeal the decision.
"We have no conditions that restrict the sale of a horse privately prior to a sale," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "We are aware of some of them (private sales), but I don't believe it happens as much as people believe it does. It's not a major number compared to the numbers of horses we sell."
Fasig-Tipton's conditions of sale also do not restrict private sales prior to auction, according to Terence Collier, the company's director of marketing. However, because owners of sale horses sign contracts with Fasig-Tipton, they should report the transaction to the auction company, he said. If such transactions are not reported, the new owner will not be protected under the Fasig-Tipton's conditions of sale if a dispute arises.
Fasig-Tipton officials are made aware of a "handful" of private transactions each year, Collier said. However, "from a practical standpoint," the sale company is not always notified, he explained, because the parties all "are comfortable with each other" and they work out the details themselves.
Neither Keeneland nor Fasig-Tipton notifies buyers when horses change hands privately prior to auctions. In fact, in many cases, the original owners are not identified either. A number of horses are listed in sale catalogues under the agents' names only.