By Aurélie Covini

This year will definitely be remembered as the year of sales 2.0 when, due to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, the number of online sales skyrocketed. And while the world economy may have trembled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the sport horse market avoided last year’s crisis, as more than 3,190 horses were sold in public auctions in under four months, generating a turnover close to €70 million, once again consecrating confirmed damlines and stallions.

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There has been incredible sales consistency with certain stallions and damlines; Cornet Obolensky and his son Comme il Faut, Chacco-Blue and his son Chaccoon Blue, Diamant de Semilly and his son Emerald have seen success that has not faded over the years. In fact, Cornet Obolensky is so successful that a sale was almost entirely dedicated to his offspring on November 9, organized by the Westfalian stud-book, where some 25 products were offered.
Public auctions are clearly not the place for all types of breeding, with the business side seeing the dog biting its own tail at one point. However, buyers are reassured by investing in trendy lines and stallions, with auction organizers prioritizing to suit buyers’ desires, which leaves little room for genetic innovation for breeders who want to sell at auction. And where nature would naturally limit access to these genetics by the availability of semen or a limited number of gestations, science has come along to upset this law of nature, thanks to traditional embryo transfer. And also now due to ICSI, which has made it possible to see a quantity of Chacco-Blue foals born from their ashes, which would not have been possible without the advent of these modern reproductive techniques.
There is no doubt that today more than ever a portion of 2.0 breeders are informed speculators who know how to count. How else to explain the record sale of Gatoucha van’t Roosaker in December during the unique auction of Stud Hero. This granddaughter of Usha reached the record sum for a broodmare of €570,000, a price built by the many embryos she was able to produce and which were themselves sold for record prices. We have to wonder whether it is now the embryo that determines the price for the mare rather than the other way around?
And yet, what could be more uncertain than an embryo? How will this foal be born, will he live up to his genetics? It’s mathematically unknown how many cracks will appear even with excellent strains and, in all probability, are increased with genetic mixing.
If Covid-19 influenced the physical organization of the 41st PSI sale pre Christmas, a first since its existence, it did not damage the morale of the buyers, neither for this sale, nor for trade in general during 2020, which has been exceptional. And while the PSI sale did not report its full results, it once again generated its share of ‘top prices’ with the record sale of Calourina (London) a daughter of double Olympic silver medallist in London 2012, who sold for €1.6 million... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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