Bobby Zen

With the announcement that the Australian auction house Inglis has expanded into American after purchasing a majority share in the Thoroughbred auction company Wanamaker’s, the TDN sat down with Wanamaker’s co-founder Liza Hendriks, who will stay on as CEO of the company, to discuss the re-brand to Inglis Digital USA.

Q: Could you give us a little backstory on how the re-brand came about?

A:  When I was part of Godolphin Flying Start four and a half years ago, I was in Australia and I saw how well the online auctions were working there. It was how I decided to start Wanamaker’s when I finished Flying Start.

I was down at the Inglis Easter sale two years ago and I got to meet their team. From there, we kept in touch and the partnership worked seamlessly for both parties. Inglis wanted to expand because their online auctions have been working so well there. They purchased a majority share of Wanamaker’s. I had previously been the sole owner.

Inglis has such an incredible and historic brand. They’ve been running auctions for over 150 years and they’ve been running digital sales for nearly eight years. They’re grossing over 90 million Australian dollars a year in digital sales, so they are very experienced and it has been great to be able to have them share their experience on things that have worked well and things that have not worked so well.

Q: How does the digital market in Australia differ from here in the U.S.?

A: They tend to be a little ahead of the curve in terms of technology throughout the industry. Digital sales have worked very well for them with being able to trade proven horses, broodmares and broodmare prospects throughout the year. Everyone there has gotten really comfortable with it and they sell over 300 horses every two weeks. In the past couple sales, they’ve listed over 500 every two weeks, so it’s definitely still growing there.

Another huge benefit that the Australian industry has seen is that it adds liquidity throughout the year with their sellers. They have been able to then reinvest that money into other horses, typically keeping it within the industry.

A: Who will the team for this new venture be comprised of?

I have stayed on as CEO and Kyle Wilson is the senior director of sales and recruitment. He also did Flying Start so we’re excited to have him on board. He will be heading up client relationships because while it is an online sale, we want to make sure that we still have great in-person relationships and build a trustworthy brand. Kelly Brophey is the director of sales operations. She will be running everything with the sales process from entering to helping with questions that come up with buyers or sellers during the sale. We’ve set up an office in Lexington as well and will be based there.

Q: What type of buyer do you expect Inglis Digital USA to be geared toward?

A: The digital sales have worked best for proven racehorses and then fillies and mares with updates. It will be buyers that want to have immediate action on the track or want to build their broodmare band with fillies and mares that have active families. With Wanamaker’s, we’ve seen a horse sell and then a day later it was entered in Saratoga and ran that weekend. There is such a demand for racehorses right now and this gives buyers the benefit of being able to run right away.

Q: For sellers, will there be any upgrades or changes they should expect with the rebrand?

A: We will charge 5% commission on sales, 3.5% on sales $100,000 or more and still no commission on RNAs.

This will be aimed toward sellers who want to capitalize on recent results or if they have a filly or mare that has a big update throughout the year. We’ve seen with Wanamaker’s and should continue to see that it adds so much liquidity and transparency to the market. Rather than trying to trade privately throughout the year, it can be online and the price can be transparent with the vetting and everything else that comes with the sales process.

Q: Since Wanamaker’s was launched in 2020, how have you seen the digital space change in America specifically?

A: We’ve seen buyers and sellers get more used to trading throughout the year, whether it’s buying or selling a broodmare outside of the typical season or selling horses of all ages. We can have more immediate sales rather than relying on public sales throughout the year.

Another trend that we’ve seen is that the barrier to entry for racing has gotten lower because sometimes if a new owner goes to a sales ground they can get intimidated with how everything is working and flowing, wondering if they have to have an agent or how to vet a horse. With having all the information online publicly, we’ve seen new owners come into the sport. We have been able to help connect them with people and they’re able to just hop on and buy a horse straightaway.

Q:  What do you think sets Wanamaker’s and now Inglis Digital USA apart from other auction houses, both public and digital? 

A: We have a whole team dedicated solely to online sales. I think that’s a great benefit. We’re focused on online sales and not holding any horses back for a physical sale.

Without having to go to a physical sale, racehorses don’t have to leave the track and be out of training. Broodmares don’t have to have that biosecurity risk of being exposed to the sales ground. If they’re in foal or have a foal by their side, you limit the risk of exposure. They can stay right where they are and sometimes they stay at the farm where they were going to foal anyways.

Q: Are there any other changes that buyers and sellers should expect with Inglis Digital USA going forward?

A: We are adding an assistant to verify all vendors and set bidding limits. With our announcement, we will also have people register and request a bidding limit.

We should be able to globalize quickly and market to all different areas of the world as well. If we have a racehorse or broodmare that looks like it could be marketable down in Australia, Inglis will help with their contacts. We hope to attract buyers worldwide, from South America, Europe and the Middle East.

The post Q&A with Inglis Digital USA’s Liza Hendriks appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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