For many wealthy owners, it's about prestige or face
While not actually being fans of the Jockey Club's International Sale concept, we figure it's there for those who want to play and nobody puts a gun to the heads of buyers.
Already several of the 2011 sale horses have been retired without any sort of result and you can bet there will be some from the 2012 event, but it didn't deter any of the small bidding-eligible group last weekend.
Twice the old record was broken, leaving us with a new HK$9 million record, and the amounts paid are quite bizarre, considering there is no prospect of residual stud value in most cases, and some observers were critical of the way the bidding was conducted last Saturday.
A raise of the paddle was often worth an extra HK$1 million and prices went from HK$1 million to HK$4 million or HK$5 million with an obscene haste that would not be seen in the major sales around the world for all but the occasional lot.
At least it ended the pain quickly and it's their money to tear up.
We recognise that for many wealthy owners, it isn't only about money (since they have oodles of that already) and it is about prestige or face, but tear it up they will.
That isn't a statement on how good or bad the horses might be, it is reality. Even if the horses at the sale turn out to have any talent at all, the extraordinary sums shelled out, for these thoroughbreds, which have not so much as had a barrier trial, will ensure that only a champion will turn a profit and champions are tough to find.
If that buyer of the HK$9 million lot now has the next Entrapment or Eagle Regiment or Little Bridge, he might want to consider the records of these three top-line sprinters.
Entrapment has won eight races and HK$8.79 million in stakes; Eagle Regiment six wins and HK$5.74 million; and Little Bridge seven races and HK$8.2 million. So if he has walked away with one as good as them, he's still finishing behind after climbing to the top.
And all of that is without considering training fees and percentages for jockeys and trainers that come out of prize earnings. It's taking short odds about your chances, and nobody, however rich, likes to look that foolish.