On the July 28, 2022, we reported via our social media platforms that we had concerns about the legitimacy of some of the bidders in the Andrew Wilson Online Sale.
We have continued to record the sale outcomes, not only for thoroughbreds and standardbreds but for all horses. Over twelve months later we still have the same, and even greater, concerns.
The majority of buyers probably trust what sellers say and the majority of sellers probably believe that a genuine private buyer, who has taken a particular fancy to their horse, will bid and that their horse will go to a wonderful home. On occasion, it does play out that way, but we also know that dealers sell through that sale and their care factor is usually limited by dollar signs. From our observations, we believe that dealers also buy through the online sales, just as they do at live sales. Online sales are an advantage to them as they can hide behind a ‘bidder code’ and have the anonymity they don’t get at live sales.
Every sale we continue to see the same thing – the same bidder code will bid on ten, twenty, even thirty horses. Why would someone genuine bid on thirty horses in the same sale? Why would the same person bid on Miniatures, Clydie crosses and everything in between in the same sale? Why is it the people who bid on the most horses in the one sale rarely actually buy any? Are they dealers looking for bargains and the prices go too high? Are they dummy bidders? If they are indeed dummy bidders (and this is a question not a statement), is it fair on genuine bidders to be bidding against them? Why would someone put in low bids on thirty horses in one sale? Why would another person bid on twenty-six horses in the same sale and a third person bid on twenty horses that were spread over not one or two states, but four states? Why would none of these bidders actually buy a horse? It makes no sense to us unless they were dummy bidders.
In one of the most recent sales there was again numerous bidders who bid on numerous horses, most again not buying anyone. However, one regular bidder code who bid on twelve horses across three states, on July 21, 2023, did buy four horses, two from VIC and two from NSW. Someone, it seems, thought it financially worthwhile to do so. Were they a dealer? Even in the sale just gone, one bidder bid on twenty-eight out of ninety horses yet bought none. Why?
Another thing that makes no sense to us – why is it that horses are sometimes passed in at a certain price and then offered for sale later at the passed in price or even less? For example, “Tyson”, also in the sale of July 21, 2023, was passed in at $175 to a bidder code that was used for at least eighteen other horses in that one sale. A bidder that had the highest bid on six horses yet bought no one. Was that bidder a dummy bidder? It seems likely to us seeing that “Tyson” sold after the sale for $100, $75 less than the highest bid.
A similar scenario with “Peggy” (aka Don’t Take No) who was in the sale before. She was passed in at $400 to a bidder who had bids on twenty-four horses over two states and also bought no one. Peggy was listed straight after the sale as a “second chance” at her passed in price of $400.
In a sale just last month, Unexpected Gift was passed in at $550 yet sold straight after for $500.
We could go on and on but suffice it to say that none of the above scenarios are “one off” instances, it’s a similar scenario every single sale.
We are of course very happy that there are no longer any live horse sales in Victoria, that COVID-19 put an end to Echuca, Warrnambool and Pakenham, and that the horses are not terrified in sale yards. BUT one thing doesn’t change. Reserve or not, sellers have no control over who buys their horse. We see ads that say “good home only”. In our opinion that is just the seller trying to make themselves feel better about risking their horse’s future. How can they possibly know if the person with the winning bid is going to be a “good home”? They can’t. We see sellers say their horse is “a member of their family” yet they won’t make the effort to make sure they go to an appropriate home. We see bidders that, to us, appear to be anything but genuine buyers. We see posts from buyers who have played with fate, bought horses unsighted and lived to regret it. And most upsetting to us is the risk to the horses who are the pawns in this game of chance.
Pictured: Unexpected Gift