Paul Moroney has had a unique experience purchasing horses at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale this year.
For the first time in nearly four decades the international bloodstock agent wasn’t able to be at Karaka as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but he did not let that stop him from being active at the annual sale.
While he wasn’t able to be physically present, he utilised technology to remotely inspect the entire Book 1 and Book 2 catalogue.
“It’s a completely new experience as far as Karaka is concerned. It is the first Karaka sale I have missed in the last 38 years,” Moroney said.
“Fortunately, we did Sydney Easter remotely as well because we were in Melbourne and couldn’t get up to that sale, which never took place anyway.
“We had a very good experience doing that online and we were confident we could analyse horses online.”
Moroney spent a lot of time in front of his screen over the last two weeks inspecting yearlings and he said he even commissioned a team to video yearlings for him on-site to help him in the process.
“In the videos we didn’t believe were of high enough quality, or they weren’t good enough for conformation analysis, we got some people to go out for us and anything we needed extra on, we sent them to video the horses,” he said.
“It has been a lot of work, but we trust our eye and we trust the group of people we work in with.
“Between myself and my partner Catheryne, we have spent more than 100 hours on video analysis.
“Since last Tuesday, when we first started looking at Karaka, we have had five 2am finishes and we have never finished earlier than midnight.
“It’s been hard work, but it is a process you have to go through.”
While time consuming, Moroney was pleased with the method he used, and he has been pleased with the 17 yearlings he has purchased at Karaka this year.
“We believe we have been able to analyse them (yearlings) very well,” he said.
“We had 234 individual horses videoed on-site at Karaka, and 113 of those that made our final third-look list, we had them videoed in high definition.
“We have had a really good look at them and we are confident we have bought a high class and high quality group. We think we have bought very well across the board and have spent over $1.5 million on 17 yearlings so far.
“We are really thrilled with how it has gone. It has been hard work, but we have had a good team behind us, who have helped us. Regan Donnison from New Zealand Bloodstock has been an absolute gem getting videos for us. Alan Fu from Pegasus Bloodstock did all of our high-definition videos for us, which was great to have.”
Moroney said he also utilised the judgement of his brother Michael, head trainer at Ballymore Stables.
“The ones that we have bought for Ballymore, 16 of the 17 (yearlings), we were forwarding the videos of the horses we liked to Mike and he had a great look at them as well, and we conferred on them.
“It was pretty much as we would have done it, but we have done it remotely.”
While Moroney is hoping he won’t have to carry out this method of inspecting yearlings remotely for too much longer, he is confident that he has implemented a formula that will prove successful if travel restrictions continue.
“We are happy with how it has gone. It has been a bit of fun and it’s what you have to do,” he said.
“It has been stressful at times, but sales can be stressful anyway.”
Moroney highlighted that there is a learning curve for vendors when it comes to producing videos of their yearlings, but he is confident this will be addressed in time.
“A lot of the vendors didn’t quite grasp that the requirement was to get good conformation analysis videos and not marketing videos,” he said.
“There were a lot of videos with two or three strides in slow-motion and that is all you saw of the horse - walking towards you and away from you - and that is completely useless. It was no good to anybody and we had to get a lot of those horses redone.
“I am sure there is a learning curve for everybody. This is the first major yearling sale that this has been done in New Zealand and collectively as buyers and sellers, everybody will be able to improve a little bit and fine tune things like that.”
Moroney was also pleased with the level of activity from domestic buyers at the sale.
“It has been great to see the sale go ahead, and the support it has received. It has been really wonderful to see New Zealand buyers get involved and have a real go,” he said.
“There is going to be a lot of good stock racing in New Zealand, and hopefully the prizemoney can lift and can run with that, because some of the best bloodstock to remain in New Zealand will come from this year’s sale.
“That is good for the future of New Zealand racing.
“Everybody has rallied around and I think everyone has done a tremendous job across the board.” – NZ Racing Desk