Post-Sale X-Rays Discussed by Aussie, NZ Sale Companies

By Bronwyn Farr and Peter Tonkes
Two of Australasia's largest bloodstock sales companies, New Zealand Bloodstock and William Inglis & Son, have ruled out post-sale X-rays as the much-anticipated repository system is about to become a reality. But Queensland rival Magic Millions is prepared to entertain X-rays post-sale to determine whether a transaction should stand.

"Provision of post-sale X-rays is really something that is a decision to be made between the vendor and the purchaser, and there may be circumstances when it is appropriate," Magic Millions managing director David Chester said.

In line with the Inglis position, no sale cancellations will be allowed on the grounds of X-rays by New Zealand Bloodstock, the sale company headed by Peter and Philip Vela.

Magic Millions Ltd. conducts sales at its headquarters on Queensland's Gold Coast, but four years ago expanded to include sales in Adelaide and Perth. The Sydney-based Inglis also operates sales in Melbourne and New Zealand Bloodstock enjoys a monopoly in that country.

Inglis will unveil the Sydney repository for its breeze-up sale on Sept. 27. New Zealand Bloodstock comes online for its ready-to-run sale, also for 2-year-olds on Nov. 18-20 at Karaka, Auckland. Those sales will be final dress rehearsals for the 2003 series which starts with the Magic Millions Gold Coast sale in January.

William Inglis & Son managing director Reg Inglis believes that after the inevitable teething problems are sorted out, "the repository system will work very, very well."

Julia Naismith, NZB's bloodstock and marketing general manager, said the Auckland auction house was keen to ensure as much consistency as possible between New Zealand and Australia.

"New Zealand Bloodstock has maintained communications with both Inglis and Magic Millions to ensure a degree of consistency between both countries. "Provided that both buyers and sellers keep the X-ray issue in perspective for what it is, that it's just one element in the assessment and purchase decision process--not the 'be all and end all'--then I believe we can integrate X-raying into our sales in this part of the world successfully and with relative smoothness," Naismith added.

Aushorse has succeeded in getting Magic Millions and Inglis to agree to having X-rays completed within 42 days. This is double the period than purchasers at Keeneland are familiar with. It is a matter of logistics, however, with breeders less centralized and technology currently less widely-available than in North America. The 42-day rule as a starting point also has the support of the Australian Equine Veterinary Association. Breeders agree to work toward having X-rays completed closer to sale date.

New Zealand Bloodstock will strongly recommend its consignors X-ray within 30 days of the sale, a point Australia could reach within two years.

The X-ray issue reached a head in Australasia at its major yearling auction, the 2002 Inglis Australian Easter sale. Aushorse departed from its previous position that X-rays wouldn't be offered under any circumstances, and ultimately recommended consignors offer purchasers a limited warranty against specific conditions evident on post-sale radiographs. The measure was taken to avoid a threatened boycott of the sale by major spender, the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The situation was exacerbated when Coolmore sold three yearlings privately to the HKJC on the eve of the sale.

Up to 15 Easter sales were cancelled after post sale X-ray scrutiny. The most expensive of them was a $1.4 million (Australian funds) Danehill colt. While it was Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges of the HKJC who broke the resistance to X-rays by insisting his club would not purchase without them, the debate gained impetus in Australia courtesy of Rick Hore-Lacy. The Melbourne conditioner spoke out publicly for their widespread use, his stance swiftly backed by various racehorse owner associations.

Conditions of X-rays at Australian sales are not quite finalized but a preliminary set will look something like the following:
- X-rays are the be supplied on a voluntary basis by the vendor.
- They must be placed in the repository no later than four days prior to the commencement of each sale. The repository will be under management of a librarian.
- X-rays must be taken within 42 days of the sale.
- Vets will only be permitted to inspect one set of X-rays at a time (under review).
- All veterinary surgeons who enter the repository will need to sign a confidentiality agreement for each set of X-rays examined.
- Thirty four X-rays will be required clearly identifying the horse by endorsement on the X-ray of brands, date, clinic name, breeding of the yearling, and hip number.
- X-rays will be taken using the protocols determined by the Australian Equine Veterinary Association.