SUNDAY’s Klawervlei Farm Sale was a ‘shot in the dark’ for John Koster and his team, but the online experiment itself, and the overall results, were unexpected triumphs for the Bonnievale farm, who has felt the industry’s pressure alongside fellow-breeders this last year.

“We were willing guinea pigs, partnering with for a first of its kind sale in South Africa, but we just didn’t know what would happen. This was a wonderful surprise,” said Koster about the sale, that yielded R8,4-million in turnover in just a few hours of internet bidding.

Koster added: “When the country shut down three months ago, we knew we had to do something foreign and out of the ordinary to give ourselves and fellow-breeders a platform to at least try sell some yearlings. The sale was open to other breeders and that played a role too.

“To be honest, we thought that if we sold 30% of the yearlings, it would be some sort of a result. We went in with the attitude of ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’, and what we received in terms of support and aggregate was most pleasing for all of us.”

“We have had a lot of very positive feedback. People had fun and everything was extremely transparent. If one looks at the stats there is every reason to celebrate.”

Koster noted that:

-Over 120 buyers cards were issued,

-There were up to 1543 views on a single yearling, -95% of the draft was sold,

-a top price of R680,000 was realised,

-The turnover of R8,4-million was more than R1million higher than the 2019 figure and just R900,000 down on 2018, when the overall market was stronger and a R1-million foal was among the sold lots.

Buyers and sellers were unanimous in their praise for the online auction.

“Klawervlei’s online sale was a fantastic initiative that worked really well and was not only a cost-saver, but highly effective way to sell horses, provided of course that viewing was done on the farms prior to the sale,” said Pieter Graaff, owner of Lammerskraal Stud.

“What an amazing experience,” said owner Etienne Braun. “It was exciting and such fun after the lockdown.”

Snaith Racing echoed: “This was very slick and fun to participate in.”

Trainer Brett Crawford commented: “I was very impressed with how easy and efficient it was to bid and buy online.”

Craig Carey of Ridgemont/Highlands said he loved the format: “I was surprised in at the action in the last three minutes.”

Said Oscar Foulkes Of Normandy Stud: “There was active bidding on the better horses, with prices appearing to settle at fair levels. I had hoped that the format would draw in bidders who wouldn’t otherwise have participated, and that was the case. We’ll definitely be back next year. Moreover, this causes us to reconsider traditional ways of selling horses.”

Vermaak Equine’s Justin Vermaak opined: ‘A smooth sale from start to finish, probably the best online sale experience I’ve had,” and Lynton Ryan added: “From the comfort of our homes, with due diligence, we entered the world inhabited by the Musks of the world, and didn’t it go well! Horses made and often exceeded perceived values, and the fear of the unknown soon evaporated as the slick new platform took us to dynamics that will probably live on after Covid-19. The Gavel in your House!”

Mark Bass, for Bass Racing, said: “Thanks and well done on a good sale, we thoroughly enjoyed the new format and this is definitely the way forward.”

James Everett, for Hollywoodbets, noted: “Congrats. It seemed to work like clockwork. It was a first for the Hollywood Syndicate, as far as online auctions are concerned, but it proved a huge success for all stakeholders. The innovative viewing and bidding process couldn’t have been easier and it is a testament to the professionalism of both the Klawervlei and Gavelhouse teams.”

“Somehow the Klawervlei Farm Sale attracted as much “gees” on a virtual platform as it does in real life,” said Kathryn Ralphs of CK racing, and Beaumont Stud’s Anton Shepherd summed up his feelings with, “I wish I had more horses on this sale!”

Koster concluded: “We have a lot of good ideas traded to make huge improvements next year. The people in this industry are extremely resilient. To all the buyers who participated, thank you for your wonderful support.

“To the vendors who rowed the boat with us, we admire your courage to try something new and appreciate being in this venture together.”