When it comes to buying weanlings, for respected sales veterinarian Ivan Bridge it is all in the legs.
For the first time in New Zealand standardbred sales history, the entire All Age Sale run by New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred goes online today on their gavelhouse.com platform, basically a Trade Me for potentially elite future racehorses.
The All Age Sale is usually held at Karaka but with the COVID-19 restrictions it has migrated online and the star attractions will be the weanlings, with huge drafts from both Alabar and Woodlands Stud.
While the Sale has already produced horses like millionaire Hard Copy, dual Derby winner Line Up and Southland superstar U May Cullect, it is even more attractive this year as the weanlings sold are eligible for the Harness Million series and can be pinhooked not only for yearling sales here but in Australia.
Inspection days at Alabar and three separate Woodlands properties on Tuesday saw plenty of trainers casting their eyes over the youngsters, some with the phones out Facetiming potential buyers from the South Island or Australia.
There is no doubt weanlings look greatly different from yearlings, mere babies as compared to teenagers.
So what does an expert look for when buying a weanling as opposed to the more finished product of a yearling?
“The legs are crucial,” says Bridge, the popular South Auckland vet used by so many sales buyers.
“You want their legs to be good, well conformed because that is something that may not change as much as they develop as something like them growing taller or filling out.
“You want the legs correct, or as much as they can be, not too turned out or facing in.
“Whereas their physical maturity isn’t as important because some horses develop at different rates. So that is what I have been looking at mostly this week, the legs.”
Bidding opens on gavelhouse.com at 5pm (NZT) on Wednesday and NZB’s James Jennings says the first step for potential buyers is to register.
“Gavelhouse is really easy to use and the vendors have done a great job with their videos and photos of the horses,” says Jennings.
“You can view the whole catalogue on the site at any time but it cost nothing to register. Once people have done they can bid or not bid but it gives them a chance to potentially snare a real bargain.
“And of course we will be using gavelhouse.com in its regular format for sales of broodmares, young horses and going horses all the time going forward.
“So my advice to people would be register, go have a look at the site and enjoy it and if those people can use it to find a horse they want, then even better.
“But is really is a tool for the whole industry, buyers and sellers.”
The NZB Standardbred All Age Sale runs for a week, with the countdown to final bids starting next Wednesday 27 May from 1pm (NZT). View the catalogue and register to bid online here.
– By Michael Guerin