While mistakes are rarely profitable, it is an exercise in good sense to learn from them - something the Jockey Club would appear to have done in relation to the Select Sale which is now part of the International Races week in December. Doncaster Sales' supremo Harry Beeby, whose name is a byword in the European bloodstock sales business, passed through Hong Kong recently with son Henry to give an encouraging account of what was happening to ensure that this December's second sale would not be the publicity disaster that marked and marred the inaugural effort last year. For all the Beebys' smooth, encouraging words, the most significant quote came from Simon Cooper who said: 'The Jockey Club are keeping a much tighter control of the sale this year.' Cooper is the Jockey Club's man in charge of the 30-horse sale split evenly between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. He is not much in the limelight - and probably has no desire to be there - but he knows only too well that the Jockey Club simply cannot afford another fiasco or the Select Sale will perish. 'We were on a learning curve,' said Cooper in the wake of last December's shenanigans and, to be fair, the Jockey Club have moved fast and firmly in an attempt to ensure that this year buyers will not only have access to good horses but will also not see extravagant sums pass straight into the pockets of vendors. But the bottom line at any sale, be it Keeneland or a horse fair in backwoods Ireland, is quality and value for money. When the hammer fell on the last high-priced purchase at the inaugural Sale, the only ultimate proof of its success would be the performance of the horses. The fighting performance of Danzighill, unbeaten in three starts and not 100 per cent fit, plus the courageous effort of Cornwall Hero, two on end this season, freshly demonstrated on Saturday at Sha Tin that there were good horses bought and sold last December. That point has been made in these pages before. While prices were high it is a fact of life that Hong Kong owners do not mind shelling out - if they end up with a winner. Unfortunately, of course, several of the Select Sale horses did not make the racecourse and several more will not make the grade, but there is nothing new in that as far as yearling sales are concerned. At the very top of the market, it is not that long ago that the Arabs paid US$13 million for a yearling that, embarrassingly, could scarcely gallop and never saw a racecourse. The success of horses like Danzighill, Cornwall Hero and Saint Tak do not exonerate those responsible for the appalling mistakes and misinformation that dogged the first Sale but, paradoxically, they set a standard for what lies ahead this December. It is an interesting shift in perspective because the infamous rigs now matter very little. The question now is: will this season's batch of 30 horses measure up to the best that were sold last December? There were certainly initial doubts about this as the Jockey Club set their various agents around the world very strict parameters in which to buy and their men lost some good prospects because of the tight control. But the Jockey Club had to act because their lack of co-ordination, control and general ham-fistedness helped ensure the public relations disaster the inaugural Select Sale became. And it was a sensible, welcome move to buy the horses themselves so that they are sold as Jockey Club property with the virtually certain excess of income over expenditure going to a non-profit making organisation. Likewise, the strict veterinary checks are being made on their own horses so there is simply no chance of any horse suspect in the slightest way being passed on to the buyers who are, of course, also the Club's members. The decision to breeze the horses at Happy Valley before the sale is particularly welcome and will greatly enhance proceedings. There is generally no lack of excitement at a good horse auction, but this year we are likely to see certain trainers become more interested and involved - through their prospective owners - when they can have a look at the product offered in action. Last year the sale was confined to horses from New South Wales, due to the tardiness and lack of foresight of several European enterprises. This year, following the high-profile, high-profit ground-breaker of last December, the northern hemisphere has a 50 per cent representation. Ultimately, that will also produce an interesting examination as to which side of the world provided the most successful lots. Agents in Europe and Australasia all started out with the same amount of money to spend - so again it comes down to expertise and value for money. The moves made by the Jockey Club in relation to the second sale are welcome and it could very well be that, this time around, those buying in December really are on to a good thing.