2012 Breeding Season Offers Mare Owners Plenty of Opportunities

The recent economic downturn has left many people questioning their involvement in the racing and breeding industry. New Zealand racehorse owners are suffering from rising costs and reduced stakes while breeders are experiencing a tightening yearling market.

Despite this there are genuine reasons to own and mate quality mares this season and in my opinion there is no better place to breed than New Zealand.

The NZ brand continues to perform well at the highest level on the international stage and the demand for the quality local product continues to remain strong. If patient, quality young mares and fillies off the track can be picked up relatively cheaply and the selection of stallions has never been better.

Too often we hear that selling yearlings profitably is the sole domain of a few select studs. The simple fact is that the agistment, preparation and the associated sale costs of raising a foal and taking it through to the yearling sales are approximately $25,000 – especially if you are paying a stud to do it. By the time service fees (say $20,000) and the cost of the mare are taken into account you probably need to sell your yearling for close to $70,000 to break even.

However not all breeders require $70,000 to return a reasonable profit, especially if they have spent little on their service fee, mare or looked after and prepared the yearling themselves. A number of stallions standing at a fee of less than $10,000 offer excellent value and the resulting foals can sell for well in excess of $70,000 as yearlings.

The secret is recognising the quality or lack of quality at a reasonably early stage in the foal’s life and deciding on the best way to either cut your losses or maximise its value. There is little point sending an average yearling to the sale in the hope of getting a reasonable return. Most buyers aren’t idiots. Often your best option is to sell as a weanling or to wait and target the tried horse market. Obviously some fillies at this level are more difficult to move but once again their are options.

Logic says half of your foals will be fillies so look to reduce the risk.

Firstly always try and breed a good correct type. Where possible breed from families that people want to get into and breed from mares with quality black type performers up close. If your budget allows, mate your mares to stallions whose progeny sell well regardless of the sex. That may require you to spend an extra $10,000 on the service fee but at the end of the day it is little more than one bid in the yearling sale ring.

This brings me back to my comment “there is no better place to breed than New Zealand”.

Not only are costs relatively cheap compared to similar countries but more importantly so are service fees. This season breeders have access to some outstanding proven stallions as well as some exciting unproven ones. At the top of the tree remains Zabeel @ $100,000 (less than $Aus80,000). Then there are the likes of O’Reilly @ $45,000 (less than $Aus36,000), Pins @ $37,500 (less than $Aus30,000), Savabeel @ $35,000 (less than $Aus28,000), Pentire @ $30,000 (less than $Aus24,000), Stravinsky @ $22,500 (less than $Aus18,000), Thorn Park @ $22,000 (less than $A17,500), Darci Brahma @ $20,000 (less than $Aus16,000) and others right through to Nadeem whose oldest are only 3yo’s yet he has already left 4 stakes winners and he stands @ $8,000 (less than $Aus6,500). All offer breeders outstanding value for the right mare and a realistic opportunity to be marketing yearlings in 2015 at a significant profit – regardless of the sex.

The quality of many of the unproven stallions is also exciting.

Outstanding international Gr1 winners such as Makfi, Mastercraftsman, Rip Van Winkle, Cape Blanco and Pour Moi are all ready to flex their muscle as are a number of other well credentialled young sires such as Shocking, Nom Du Jeu, Per Incanto, Guillotine & Zacinto just to name a few. There is no reason why any of these can’t sire yearlings capable of returning significant profits as yearlings.

The market for thoroughbreds may have tightened during the last year or two but while stakes in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore continue to strengthen the demand will always be there and buyers will continue to pay a premium for quality.

And for those of you wanting to do your own thing and raise and market your own yearling – don’t be afraid especially if you do the job properly. If you present a quality yearling it will attract the attention of the buyers. More than once I’ve found a yearling in a small draft and thinking it will be cheap and then waited for it in preference to others – only to get stuck in a bidding dual with others who thought the same.

Bruce Perry Bloodstock

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