ANDREW Seabrook, Managing Director of New Zealand Bloodstock, has been referred to as “the man everyone wants to be nice to”, and even “New Zealand’s greatest leader”.

Seabrook’s NZB, with gavelhouse.com, will be staging the Klawervlei Farm Sale, online, between 15 and 21 June. We caught up with him for some background news and a preview of what to expect.

New Zealand Bloodstock is a leader in bloodstock auctions, private sales and supporting services to the thoroughbred market. Since 1995, New Zealand Bloodstock has provided auction sales, bloodstock, insurance, finance and airfreight services to customers worldwide.

Introduced in April 2016, gavelhouse.com has had a huge impact on the trading landscape of New Zealand’s thoroughbred industry with their fortnightly online auctions.

TT: You are well known in SA breeding circles, but give us some background on your career. You have been involved in the breeding industry in New Zealand and liaising with and visiting other countries for over 25 years?

AS: I was born into a horse racing family in Cambridge, the horse capital of New Zealand and having completed an Accounting Degree at University, went straight to work for New Zealand Bloodstock where I have worked now for 28 years.

During that time, I have worked in many facets of the company, originally starting in the pedigree department before moving on to be a bloodstock agent, making use of my degree as the company accountant and graduating to Managing Director 10 years ago.

New Zealand’s industry relies heavily on exports and a lot of my time is spent traveling overseas. My first trip to South Africa was 20 years ago when I witnessed the David Payne trained, Laurie Jaffee owned, New Zealand-bred filly Hoeberg win the Fillies Guineas in Cape Town. Although I haven’t been for a while, South Africa remains one of my favourite countries to visit and I still have some close friends there. I am particularly fond of your food and red wine!

TT What brought about New Zealand Bloodstock’s association with gavelhouse.com?

AS: It became apparent that the online sale of horses was going to become a major part of the future trading landscape. New Zealand Bloodstock purchased gavelhouse.com from founder Gary Moore in its original classified form in 2015. It then transpired that the immediacy of online auctions would be a better approach to selling online rather than classifieds that sometimes stayed on the site for months without selling so we undertook the arduous process of building a new site from scratch.

TT: How many online sales have you conducted alongside gavelhouse.com and how has their technology improved since they relaunched in 2016?

AS: We re-launched the site in April 2016 and since then our fortnightly thoroughbred sales have become an integral trading tool for New Zealanders both domestically and internationally. The effort and expense put into the initial build has paid off in that we have not had to make any major changes to the code and how the site works since we launched apart from minor tweaks.

TT: Have you had a previous association with Klawervlei Stud through horses bought and sold and how did the idea for this online venture come about?

AS: We were thrilled to be approached by Grant Knowles for this venture. South Africa has been on our radar for some time now and to partner with a farm of Klawervlei’s standing and values gives us a fantastic launching pad. I visited the farm a couple of years ago.

TT: In your experience, do buyers adapt readily to the online system? Were there teething problems and, considering the Covid-19 ramifications, do you envisage a massive future growth in frequency and popularity of online auctions?

AS: When we developed the site there was a big focus on it being user friendly as obviously there is a wide spread in the demographics we needed to cater to. Feedback from vendors and buyers who use other online trading options in Australasia consistently favours the gavelhouse.com user experience and this is something we have continued to focus on since we launched. In the past six months we have broken new ground in selling two Group One winning mares on the site, both for well in excess of NZ$600,000, proving that there are no limits to the level of bloodstock that can successful sell online providing the right approach is undertaken. We feel strongly that with the quality technology out there for video and photo studies of horses, online trading will continue to grow and there is no-doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked others into appreciating the benefits and investigating them further. Having built the site from scratch and with our robust, bespoke, bidding engine we have fielded plenty of enquiries recently into how our system can be adapted to different scenarios as more and more businesses look to shift to online.

TT: When will the Farm Sale catalogue be uploaded and how does the buyer registration process work?

AS: Once the site is live in early June, buyers will be able to register to bid. When their registration has been completed online, their bidding application will be reviewed before being approved. The catalogue will be launched on 15 June and bidding will run through until the final countdown from 1pm on Sunday 21 June. The Klawervlei team will pre-register buyers on the Gavelhouse system. These buyers will all be sent a username and a password for online participation. Interested participants should contact Grant@klawervlei.co.za for all registration enquiries.

TT: Are there minimum bids and how long, on average, does it take for single lots to be sold (or not sold)? Assuming bidding stays open on unsold lots until the end of sale and thereafter?

AS: Each Lot closes in its own time slot, starting with Lot 1. If a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds of that Lots auction, another 30s is added on and this will happen indefinitely until there are no further bids. Each time the auction auto-extends, it pushes back the closing time of subsequent Lots. If a horse passes in on the site, it remains there with its reserve price visible in case interested parties would like to make an offer. Bidding increments are set as follows:

Minimum opening bid R5000

R5,000 – R10,000 R1,000 increment

R10,000 – R 30,000 R2,000 increment

R30,000 – R60,000 R5,000 increment

R60,000 – R150,000 R10,000 increment

R150,000 – R800,000 R20,000 increment

Buyers and vendors interested in seeing a catalogue live on gavelhouse.com are welcome to browse the various sales we will be running in New Zealand before the gavelhouse.com South Africa site launched.

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