F.B.A. Review of 2008
Our warnings of overproduction and lack of buyers for low-grade horses contained in the Review of 2007 came true in no uncertain terms in the past twelve months. But we cannot claim that we knew that the world was about to be engulfed the greatest economic crisis of our generation, which would inevitably impact on world bloodstock markets
Yet even as late as August at the Arqana sale in Deauville, the yearling market was still holding up, but that sale may have owed more to the energy of the new Arqana management team which produced new buyers and some solid results.
Thereafter through the year it was pretty much downhill all the way. The lower end of the horse market was as to be expected, badly hit with some horrendous figures being returned at a number of sales. Ireland after a number of boom years and with a relatively small economy was particularly badly hit by the economic downturn and horse sales there were some of the worst affected.
But with the European (and even world bloodstock markets) all being interconnected to some degree, and with the economic downturn going global, no bloodstock market was likely to escape. However, some of the falls in gross sales and average prices could be attributed to the lack of quality offered at auction, particularly with breeding stock sales as owners elected to hold on to quality mares rather than face an uncertain market. This seemed to be particularly true of the Keeneland November 2008 and January 2009 sales.
Aside from all the economic gloom there were a number of memorable performances on the racecourse to make 2008 stick in our memories for the right reasons. The battles between Henrythenavigator and Raven’s Pass lasted right through the season whilst trainers Aiden O’Brien and Jim Bolger both enjoyed remarkable years, the latter in particular when he produced the not entirely easy New Approach to win the Derby. The Breeders Cup at Santa Anita was a tremendous event for the Europeans and the racing on the new artificial surface seemed to our eyes to be more exciting than the regular slog on the old American “dirt” surface. Raven’s Pass coming from behind to take the Breeders Cup Classic was particularly memorable.
Zarkava was one of the best fillies seen in many years culminating in her Arc victory, whilst Curlin in the USA and Dubai continued to show what a champion he was. Interestingly, both these great horses were bred from unraced mares, to confirm there are no hard and fast rules about breeding racehorses. Having said that, the economic downturn will surely bring harsh reality to the breeding world and reduce the number of low class mares being sent to cheap stallions.
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