A horse may have four legs, but that won’t prevent it from tripping
Chaos, lack of music, a sleepy audience and complete lack of a mood that should be present at this kind of event. The auction itself ended with a slight feeling of dissatisfaction, quick falls of the hammer, discontentment of the buyers, repeated biddings and a heavy and strangely stiff atmosphere…
The above words are not a description of this year’s Pride of Poland, but a quote from an article that covered the Janów Sale in 2009. It was then that we witnessed a chaos surrounding the selling of Fallada. „She achieved a price of 480 thousand euro, after which the auctioneer declared that the mare did not reach her reserve price. However Jerzy Zbyszewski, who commented the sale, gave a contrary information that the mare was sold, but did not say where”, we wrote (through Rafał Czarnecki) on our website. The mare was eventually sold after the sale by way of negotiation to Belgium (Knocke Arabians) for 465 thousand euro.
We recall these events because human memory is short and unreliable. We’re not writing about last year’s records, because others are already doing so. A majority of people making comments about the last sale, surely imperfect in many ways, do not want to remember that it was not always so wonderful back in the day.
Either way, Janów Podlaski 2016 was to be different than ever before – and it was.
The main sale – a chronicle of the anticipated disaster
After a successful Polish National Show the organizers of the Janów event were full of optimism. There were stands full of people, 44 potential buyers who paid the required deposit, contentment on the faces of the guests from the VIP sector. First we heard the voice of Marek Grzybowski, organizer of the once Polish Prestige Sale, who visited Janów for the first time after 16 years of absence. It seemed that history made a loop, bridging new times with those past, though this time Marek Grzybowski did not conduct the sale, but represented a company which insured the sale horses. Auctioneer Greg Knowles started the bidding with humour and charm (though he later tended to mistake euro for dollars). Unfortunately that’s where the pleasant moments ended…
The first bidding – of Lot 0, being the 16 year old Emira, Polish National Champion from 2001 and 2004, 2002 champion from Aachen, 2014 World Bronze Champion – went rapidly. The price quickly achieved 350, then 450 thousand euro. Finally it was announced that the mare was sold for 550 thousand euro and everyone waited for information which country she would go to. This information however did not come. The concern of the gathered public was further roused by the bidding of another star, which was to give the auction a „push”. Al Jazeera, despite receiving a bid for 350 thousand euro, was not sold. This significantly contributed to the graveness of the atmosphere. At the end of the sale the auction’s commentator, Joanna Duszyk, announced a surprise – a repeated bidding of both mares.
However before we get to that, the buyers form Qatar successfully bid on Sefora (Lot 1) for 300 thousand euro (the highest price of the sale). Formia also surpassed the coveted 100 thousand euro mark and was sold for 125 to Romania. Ballena received an offer of 60 thousand (Sweden). Piaconella was not sold, and next came the confusion with Al Jazeera. Despite the consternation of the arena and the joy of a group of „well-wishers”, who awarded the blunder with huge applause, another mare, El Emeera, again achieved a good price – 160 thousand euro, offered by guests from Qatar. Esparta was purchased to Kuwait for 90 thousand euro. Later came a stagnation and subsequent horses left the arena unsold. Surprising was the lack of interest in the WH Justice daughter, Ekspiracja out of a dam by Monogramm. An interesting pedigree and beauty of the mare offered a chance of a high price. A lack of buyers willing to purchase this mare is one of the secrets of this auction.
This stagnation was finally broken by Wabia (Lot 13), sold for 100 thousand euro to the Middle East. The buyers from France activated themselves during the bidding for Ebona (30 thousand euro). The Kuwaiti purchased Angelina (50 thousand euro). A decent price was offered also for Cerena (33 thousand, Kuwait). The clients from Romania also successfully bid on Gabi (15 thousand euro), Cefena (15 thousand), Dama Trefl (18 thousand), Złota Korona (20 thousand) and Goltra (18 thousand). Edwina was sold to Saudi Arabia for 12 thousand.
And later, prior to the bidding on Alert (who didn’t have any interested buyers at 50 thousand, rather unsurprisingly), came the „surprise”. Emira once again entered the arena. The bidding proceeded strenuously, but proceed it did – until it reached 225 thousand euro, offered by the Swedish agent Anette Mattsson. The true buyer soon turned out to be the Qatari Al Thumama Stud – the one that the media informed would boycott (beside the American Hennessey Arabians) the auction. Let’s remind that Al Thumama is still leasing the stallion Morion.
„Important clients are boycotting the Pride of Poland Sale in Janów Podlaski”, heralded „Dziennik Wschodni” on May 9th**. And following the RMF FM radio station clarified that among the studs absent in the upcoming auction would be the “conflicted with Michałów Stud” Al Thumama from Qatar. „Important clients won’t come. Boycott of the Pride of Poland”, echoed TVN24 BIS and also mentioned Al Thumama. The information was also given among others by „Rzeczpospolita”, „Newsweek”, „Wprost”… Translated to English, it was spread across social media, as well as on the Facebook page „Reinstate Anna Stojanowska, Jerzy Białobok & Marek Trela”, set up by the manager of Al Thumama Stud.
„If an important buyer announces his absence at the Janów sale, others may find it suggestive”, Anna Stojanowska told the „Polska. Metropolia Warszawska” newspaper (16.08). No wonder that an influential buyer (and show sponsor), who first threatened to sue the stud that he previously cooperated with and announced that he won’t participate in the Janów sale – something that could discourage other potential buyers, including agents who could be worried about being stigmatized in the community – and later purchased the star of the auction for a price regarded by many commentators as a deal, was to many a great surprise.
It seems that in the future potential buyers should not pay attention to information in the media (boycott of the sale, a dispute with a contracting party etc.) or a negative campaign in social media. Because they will be acting to their own disadvantage.
As „Gazeta Współczesna” wrote, a role in the bidding of Emira was also played by the former director of Janów Stud, Marek Trela: „Friends asked me to help them in the purchase of two horses, which I did, adding a little to the sale outcome”, he said. As the newspaper states, one of those horses was Emira. So did he therefore contribute to the selling of the sale’s star? „Also, because I was in constant contact with the lady who finally bought her”, admitted Marek Trela to AIP agency***.
However – if there was no (at least) six figure discharge allowance together with a non-competition clause – one shouldn’t expect that the fired stud directors would not run any business activity in the industry of Arabian horses. Though there may now be concerns about international judges having obligations towards particular studs and persons. „It would be bad if the former directors would act in the interests of buyers now. They possess reserved knowledge about the offered horses and on internal matters”, said the president of Janów Podlaski, Professor Sławomir Pietrzak (gazeta.pl****).
However back to the auction. Al Jazeera was not sold. The bidding stopped at 200 thousand euro and the mare returned to the stable. The overall outcome was 1.271 million euro. Among the 31 horses offered for sale 16 found buyers.
Many people today ask whether the repeated bidding of both mares was a mistake or not. According to the organizers the purpose was to show the transparency of the auction. Marek Grzybowski comments: „It was a mistake. The reserve price was set at 700 thousand euro, which was unachievable in these conditions. Such prices can be paid for young mares with both a show and breeding future ahead of them. The confusion in not being able to establish the bidders of the highest offers during the first time was in my opinion the fault of the ringmasters. Perhaps the buyer withdrew himself, counting on the mare returning to the stable and being able to buy her for much less. Putting her in the auction ring again was as if saying „please give what you can”.
Also incomprehensible appear some of the other decisions regarding the reserve prices. For example Piaconella was offered a year ago (08.08.2015) at a tender in Michałów for 80 thousand PLN. Demanding a huge amount for her now had a very small chance of success. It would also be quite a feat to sell a horse with evident depigmentation. This was not managed.
Also not without significance was the offer itself, weaker than in previous years. That was noticed by auction frequenters, among others Faisal Al o Taibe from Saudi Arabia, who said to the New York Times newspaper: „the quality of the horses of the auction has dropped”*****. Similar opinions could be read on internet forums.
For the first time there was a group of people on the arena who clearly waited for every mistake. That was a novelty. Until now the public was always happy with the auction successes and was sad when the auction hit some bumps. This time there were clearly people wishing the sale ill luck. The conduction of the sale itself is still disputed about and this subject will probably continue for some time.
The disaster of the auction (though in the financial sense it was not a complete disaster; its result, as given by TVN station******, is 9th best since 2003 during the last 14 years) was made up of many other factors, which will definitely be analysed more than once. The organizers are not without fault (the commentary and music were poor and the ringstewards – though experienced according to TVP Info, as they had worked years ago with Animex and Polturf******* – just couldn’t cope). However it must be noted that the organizers worked under lots of pressure. Never before was there such a crowd of cameras and microphones right after the sale during an improvised press conference in a tent. There never were, because nobody expected such a conference before. No one attacked the organizers, even if the results were not the best and all explanations were considered well-meant. Not this time. The media behaved like hunters pursuing their prey. Already before they made the sale a political matter, which could not benefit the selling. Buyers do not like to be in the hot seat in the public eye – neither in Poland, nor in the world.
The overall bad atmosphere could not have not affected the potential buyers. Many people are noticing more and more that the declarations to stigmatize the people that would come to the Pride of Poland contributed to a smaller attendance. „Everybody has the right to buy a horse where and whenever they want”, we read in one of the comments pointing to the ethical aspect of the entire situation.
It should be mentioned that the „witch-hunt” was actively conducted by people who each time emphasize that Arabian horse breeding is something very close to their heart.
The effects of this love could’ve been witnessed during this year’s auction.
In the satirical play of Alexander Ostrovsky titled „A horse may have four legs, but that won’t prevent from tripping”******** (1868) one of the characters is working on a „Treaty on the harmfulness of reforms in general”. It also includes many other interesting and surprisingly modern motifs. I won’t encourage to read it, because nobody probably will. And that’s a shame.
Monday: the success of the Summer Sale
The excellent impression which accompanied the participants of the Janów event after the Polish Nationals appeared again during the Summer Sale. Auctioneers – Greg Knowles (USA) and the accompanying him Michał Romanowski, who has conducted many sales at the Służewiec Racetrack, were a harmonious duet and worked hard on each horse in order to sell it as best they could. The result of their efforts was very good – it was one of the best auctions ever since it became the Selection Sale and later the Summer Sale. Out of the 25 offered horses 18 found buyers. The prices stretched from 8 thousand euro for Michałów’s Chimera (who will remain in Poland) and Janów’s Poema (who will go to the UAE), to 50 thousand for Ersa from Michałów, purchased by Stanisław Redestowicz (StanRed Arabians). Ersa will also be joined by Kachiria (14 thousand euro).
Ersa would not have been the highest sold horse of the Summer Sale, had the owner of Lot 11 Ewarda, Krzysztof Goździalski from Falborek Arabians, decided to sell his mare. The bidding reached 95 thousand euro! The reserve price was 100 thousand, which is an unheard of amount at a sale considered „supplementary” to the main sale. Usually the seller, when the sum gets close to the reserve price (and this was the case here), agrees to sell the horse slightly below his expectations. Not this time.
The Chinese were expected to participate in the sale, however they did not show up. But guests from Romania turned out to be rather good buyers. This is a new direction in the selling of Polish horses. During the Summer Sale the Romanians bought 4 horses: Oria (20 thousand), Czeszka (33 thousand), Egipta (20 thousand) and Elekteria (20 thousand). They also made purchases the day before during the main sale. Buyers from Kuwait secured two horses (Fila with a colt by Pogrom for 36 thousand and Alshira for 27 thousand). Other buyers came from Namibia (Złota Rola – 28 thousand, Perylla – 17 thousand), the UK (Pustynna Perła – 35 thousand, Felliza – 12 thousand), Saudi Arabia (Hulina – 13 thousand), Italy (Zenteria – 23 thousand) and the United Arab Emirates (apart from Poema also Entorja – 32 thousand and Fuksja – 13 thousand). The efficient and good atmosphere resulted in the total outcome of more than 400 thousand euro. The buyers were pleased, because the prices reflected the real value of the horses. So were the sellers, because it turned out that the lack of buyers was untrue.
(Net prices in EUR)
Pride of Poland 2016
(30 mares offered and 1 stallion)
Sefora 300 thousand, Qatar
Emira 225 thousand, Qatar
El Emeera 160 thousand, Qatar
Formia (colt Filister by Vitorio TO sold after the auction with her) 125 thousand, Romania
Wabia 100 thousand, Kuwait
Esparta 90 thousand, Kuwait
Ballena 60 thousand, Sweden
Angelina 50 thousand, Kuwait
Cerena 33 thousand, Kuwait
Ebona 30 thousand, France
Złota Korona 20 thousand, Romania
Dama Trefl 18 thousand, Romania
Goltra 18 thousand, Romania
Gabi 15 thousand, Romania
Cefena 15thousand, Romania
Edwina 12 thousand, Saudi Arabia
Al Jazeera sold after the auction for a price not publicly given to Qatar
Summer Sale 2016
(25 mares offered)
Ersa 50 thousand, Poland
Fila (with colt by Pogrom) 36 thousand, Kuwait
Pustynna Perła 35 thousand, GB
Czeszka 33 thousand, Romania
Entorja 32 thousand, ZEA
Złota Rola 28 thousand, Namibia
Alshira 27 thousand, Kuwait
Zenteria 23 thousand, Italy
Oria 20 thousand, Romania
Egipta 20 thousand, Romania
Elekteria 20 thousand, Romania
Perylla 17 thousand, Namibia
El Kachira 14 thousand, Poland
Hulina 13 thousand, Saudi Arabia
Fuksja 13 thousand, UAE
Felliza 12 thousand, GB
Chimera 8 thousand, Poland
Poema 8 thousand,GB
P.D. – Examples of other auctions, which did not necessarily avoid complications:
2012 – we wrote: „Few buyers, low prices, very slight enthusiasm from the public – one could only dream about a heated atmosphere which should accompany an event of this rank”. (The overall sum at the time was 1.325 million euro from the main sale and 99.6 thousand from the Selection Sale). There is also some confusion with the selling of Ejrene: „The auctioneer announced that the expected priced is one million euro, but when the bidding came to a halt he was ready to seal the transaction at 450 thousand euro. The buyer however did not raise his offer and the mare returned to the stable. It was not until the end of the entire sale that Ejrene once again appeared on the arena. It was announced then that she was sold for the last offered bid”.
2011 – 14 horses are bought by a mysterious buyer from Australia, who does not pay for the horses later on. The final result of the sale is therefore much different than the one that is made public.
2010 – the main sale brings in just above a million euro. „The round 10th anniversary of organizing the event by Polturf did not end in a great celebration, as there wasn’t much to be happy about. It was the weakest auction of the past several years, as 10 out of the 36 horses offered in the main sale did not sell. Several were bought without any fight whatsoever after reaching the reserve price, which this year seemed to be set for many horses at a low level of 10 thousand Euro”, we wrote.
2001 – a new organizer (Polturf) takes over the auction after the removal of Polish Prestige. Out of the 39 horses offered in the main sale as many as 15 remain unsold and the average achieved price per mare is slightly below 40 thousand dollars.
The whole original article about the Arabian Horse Gala 2016 (A horse may have four legs, but that won’t prevent it from tripping) you can find here
******Fakty, 16.08. http://www.tvn24.pl/wideo/z-anteny/16-08-2016-nie-cichna-glosy-krytyki-po-tegorocznej-aukcji-w-janowie-podlaskim-czy-posypia-sie-dymisje,1550552.html?playlist_id=19989
********Polish title for the play „Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man” (original Russian title: „На всякого мудреца довольно простоты”)