We’ve had a mixed response to our story about the horse trading adventures of prominent Queensland country racehorse owners Peter and Peta Gray yesterday, with some – including an industry figure I greatly respect on the animal welfare front – telling me that I’ve got it all arse up, and that Peter/Peta Grays are animal s who perform brilliant deeds by digging into their own pockets to save unwanted horses from a slow trip to a quick death at the glue factory’s.
I don’t buy that theory for a second.
The Grays are dealers.
Dealers buy and sell for money, and the dollar is the bottom line, not the horse.
In addition to that, the Grays almost exclusively buy fillies and mares, which leads me to suspect that there might be a wee borderline legal tax reduction scheme going on, for female horses attract a far greater concessional advantage than the boys do, and I’m yet to meet a trader who was jumping over fences in their delight at paying tax.
The tax laws around deducting racing expenses are relatively complex, but in short, mares are the deduction gift that just keeps on giving, and at the borderline level all you have to do is buy lots, race a few and breed a couple, and then Bob’s your Uncle, you’re in racing as a business, and all your racing expenses can be offset against the tax you would otherwise pay on the the profits from your farm or associated business.
I’d take evens that the Grays are eager participants in this great rock n’ roll legalised racing and tax game, and if anyone will bet me a price I will back my judgement for plenty.
That’s a not the issue here though.
The issue here is whether horses the Grays buy cheap at auctions are living long, carefree lives in lush green paddocks cared by horse-loving young ladies with dreams of riding their babies to Olympic gold in the equestrian ring.
Due to the almost zero lack of lifetime tracing up until now, it’s almost impossible to know; but one way we might get some idea is to have a look a batch or two of dirt-cheap gallopers that the Grays have bought in sales, and see where the sport has taken them.
Let’s start with the March 2017 Inglis bloodstock auction.
Peter/Peta Gray bought ten horses at this sale, at an average price of $1 445, with the highest priced purchase costing a mere $2250.
At the time exporters in the Phar Lap flesh trade were getting US $6.00 a kilo for horse meat, giving each animal a live exported value in the range of $3000 – $3600, depending on how fat they were.
It was better than bank interest for anyone who was prepared to kill a horse for a buck.
We make no suggestion of course that Peter/Peta Gray ever had such thoughts or inclinations; we have no idea what they are thinking, and wouldn’t dare to presume.
I know what I’m thinking though.
Here are the ten horses, with their price, the name, and what they did (as far as we can ascertain) after the Gray’s bought them .
Take a look for yourself.
$2 250 – Tan Tat Wish – 20 starts, 1 win, $15 370 prizemoney earnings post-sale
$2200 – Vite Mamselle – never raced
$1800 – She’s a Fireball – never raced
$1600 – Cameo Kissed – never raced again after sale
$1600 – Nimberley – never raced
$1200 – Mission Completed – never raced
$1200 – Go Demi – never raced
$1200 – Unnamed (Skilled x Jaywalk) – never named, never raced
$700 – Bonnie’s Tang – never raced
$700 – Startacular – never raced again after sale
Only one since horse out of the ten that Peter/Peta Gray purchased at the bottom of the market from that sale ever raced again after the hammer dropped.
Seven of the ten never raced at all, either before or after the sale.
One wasn’t even named.
Why did the Grays buy such a bulk lot of no-hopers?
What happened to the ten mares?
Where did they go?
Who took them there?
How are they now?
As I said, I have formed my own opinions based on what I have seen and read.
You be your own judge.
I don’t wear dresses and wigs.