Choice filly on top in roaring Easter trade
McEvoy to train A$1.8 million half-sister to English
The opening session of the final Inglis Easter Yearling Sale to be staged in its historic Sydney base provided a spectacular measure of the booming fortunes of the Australian bloodstock industry. With bidding contested by investors from all corners of the globe, demand was intense at every level of the market and the indices duly recorded giddy gains.
By the time the hammer fell for the final time on Tuesday 110 lots had changed hands for A$38,175,000 (£23,216,422/€27,088,000), an average of A$347,045 (£211,058/€246,209) - 24 per cent higher than at the corresponding session in 2016 - and a median of A$300,000, up a huge A$100,000 on last year. The clearance rate stood at 80 per cent.
The top lot of the day was a Redoute's Choice half-sister to English, who was run down by the astounding finish of Chautauqua in Saturday's T J Smith Stakes down the road at Randwick.
She was bought by agent Tim Stakemire on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, and will now head into training with Tony McEvoy. An opening bid of A$500,000 briefly looked to have scared off the opposition, before a host of interested parties quickly drove the price all the way up to A$1,800,000 (£1,094,725/€1,277,233).
"What a gorgeous filly," said McEvoy. "I looked at English at the yearling sales and this filly is far superior, in my view and obviously everyone else's. She was my number one horse of the sale, let alone filly. I might not look like it, but inside I'm going mad. I'm so excited to get her.
"Sheikh Khalifa asked me to get him the best filly in the sale and that was this filly. I looked at her seven times and wanted to take her home from the very start. I started to get nervous as everyone was talking her up, all the good judges were on her, so I’m very humbled to get the opportunity to train her."
The filly, offered by John Kelly's Newhaven Park - who race her Group 1-winning half-sister - is out of the Group 2-winning Anabaa mare Court, a cross that has produced Listed-winner Come Hither.
On Monday it was announced that Yarraman Park will be doubling red-hot sire I Am Invincible's covering fee to A$110,000 in 2017 - and it was not hard to see why when James Harron gave A$1.6m for the first foal out of the unraced O'Reilly mare Captivating Claire.
"He's just a beautiful colt, lots of quality and he's come from a great farm at Segenhoe," said Harron, who was bidding from a well-concealed position down one of the passages leading to the ring. "It's going to be very exciting to see what type of colt he develops into. You can't help but be impressed by I Am Invincible, he keeps going from strength to strength. With these better mares coming through now you've got to get excited. Hopefully this guy can fly the flag for him next season."
Segenhoe Stud supplied last year's most expensive Easter Yearling and its manager Peter O'Brien was understandably thrilled by the sale.
"He was born and bred at Segenhoe," beamed O'Brien. "I know it sounds like hyperbole but he's as good a horse as I've ever seen. I've never had a horse have so many x-rays, scopes. Every good judge in the country was on him, although I never thought he'd make that amount. And to have him bought by James Harron, who's not just a good friend but in my opinion the best judge in the business, we’re just delighted."
The transaction will also fuel the Segenhoe team's hopes for the future, as O'Brien explained: "We have the full-sister at home, who's just as good as he was as a foal, and the mare is back in foal to I Am Invincible, so we're well covered!"
The colt's dam is out of a three-parts sister to Commands, the sire of 2017 freshman shuttle stallion Epaulette, while the likes of southern hemisphere stars Octagonal and Tristalove also appear further back on the page.
Harron also broke the seven-figure barrier when going to A$1m to secure a colt by Written Tycoon from the draft of Turangga Farm. The Ulsterman had a hand in the meteoric rise of Written Tycoon, having also sourced his Golden Slipper-winning son Capitalist.
The colt is out of the Elvstroem mare Brilliant Bisc, who won a Listed race on debut as a juvenile and is herself a daughter of Group 1 winner Stella Cadente.
"He's a smashing colt, really forward-going, a real two-year-old type, which you expect from that family," said Harron, who finished the session as leading buyer with three acquisitions totalling A$3.4m. "Brilliant Bisc was a super filly that won the Gimcrack, there's a lovely fast family underneath her so it's speed on speed and lots of precocity, which suits what we're trying to achieve."
Returning Stanley on cloud nine
The dominance of Danehill on the Australian breed was again highlighted late in the session as his son Fastnet Rock supplied the fourth and final seven-figure lot on the day. The Newgate Farm filly, out of the New Zealand-bred mare Fleur De'here, fetched A$1.15m from Brent Stanley on behalf of Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds.
"She's a lovely filly with a great pedigree and it's great for my clients to get involved with her," said Stanley, who recently returned to the training ranks having served a nine-month ban for breaching the Australian rules of racing in the sale of a horse to Hong Kong. Stanley told the owners of Equita that their colt had changed hands for A$200,000, when in fact he had raised A$300,000.
"I've been back for a week now and the clients have been very supportive," said a contrite Stanley. "Having a supportive team and people trust you is important. Hopefully I can get the results for them as that's what it's all about in this game."
The filly, a typical model by the sire, boasts a fine page, being a three-parts sister to Listed-winning and Blue Diamond third Zamzam, and out of a half-sister to Australian Oaks winner Tully Thunder.
Aga Khan on target
Breeders as well as buyers brought an international edge to proceedings in Newmarket, and the partnership between the powerhouse operations of the Aga Khan Studs and John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud bore fruit when a Redoute's Choice colt out of Azmiyna sold to Guy Mulcaster for A$700,000. Angus Gold was the frustrated underbidder.
"We had an order from Hermitage Farms. This is the colt we picked out and they're really happy to have secured him," said Mulcaster. "Azamour was a champion and this colt is out of a half-sister to him. He'll be trained by Chris Waller and we'll just bring him along quietly, I'm sure he'll make a lovely horse. It's a pretty hard task to beat Angus!"
The colt is out of the unraced Galileo mare Azmiyna, whose page features a host of talented Aga Khan horses - most notably her half-brother, the four-time Group 1 winner and much missed sire Azamour, who supplied the likes of Dolniya, Valyra and Covert Love in a relatively short but productive spell at stud.
The Arrowfield and Aga Khan partnership also sold the very first lot through the ring, a colt by first-season sire Animal Kingdom from the family of Vadamos, who went the way of Dean Hawthorne for A$200,000.
She Will Reign's half-sister in demand
The 2017 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign has been a fine advert for the talent that can be sourced without spending eye-watering sums, having been picked up by Darby Racing for just A$20,000.
But her exploits have had a profound impact on the appeal of her siblings. Her Shamus Award half-sister, offered by Yarraman Park Stud, was signed for by Attunga Stud and Blandford Bloodstock New South Wales at A$425,000, some 20 times the sum that secured her illustrious half-sibling.