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Gold Coast buyers spoilt for choice of mares in foal to Tapit

Australian vendors step up their involvement with US champion

Peneleput, a winning daughter of Mr Greeley, is offered in foal to Tapit by Vinery Stud as lot 1490 at Magic Millions
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Earlier tentative but triumphant attempts to introduce champion North American sire Tapit to the Australian market intensify at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast this week.

The presence of eight well-bred mares in foal to Tapit at the four-day auction, which starts on Tuesday at 10am local time, is timely to say the least as Gainesway's son of Pulpit supplied his 22nd individual top-level winner on Saturday when son Cupid scored an impressive victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Tapit, who holds the North American record for progeny earnings in a single season, has soared from a debut covering fee of $15,000 to $300,000 in the past three seasons on the back of supplying greats such as Frosted, Tonalist and Untapable.

He has advertised his international credentials by also delivering a Grade 1 winner in Japan – Testa Matta in the February Stakes – and a few useful sorts in Europe including Christophermarlowe and As De Trebol despite scant representation.

Tapit does not shuttle, though, so, in a case of Muhammad having to go to the mountain, agents and trainers outside the US have to import his Kentucky-bred progeny or send mares to him to southern hemisphere time.

Previous appearances by Tapit in Australian auctions have shown demand is there. For example, at last year's National Broodmare Sale, Newgate Farm sold Morning Fix, a Grade 3-winning daughter of First Samurai, with a September service by the sire to Tim Stakemire for A$620,000 (£360,000/€413,000).

At the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January, meanwhile, Mandalong Stud and Gary Nickson Racing gave A$700,000 (£406,000/€465,000) for a Tapit filly out of the Listed-winning Ready's Image mare Leinan.

The eight mares in foal to Tapit this week are split evenly between Vinery Stud and Newgate Farm.

Vinery's quartet, being sold in association with Gainesway, are Seeking (lot 840), a Mizzen Mast half-sister to Grade 2 winner Nefertini; Caminadora (1093), a Grade 3-winning daughter of More Than Ready; Dixie Smile (1168), a Dixie Union half-sister to two Listed winners whose dam Broad Smile and granddam Wings Of Jove were both Graded scorers; and Peneleput (1490), a winning Mr Greeley half-sister to Grade 3 winner Windrush.

The Newgate Stud four are Ziptomylu (1004), a winning City Zip half-sister to stakes winners Kathballu and Kathmanblu; Best Behaviour (1068), a Grade 3 winner by Into Mischief; Heart Stealer (1256), a Grade 2 winner by Speightstown; and Lindisfarne (1350), a Listed-winning City Zip half-sister to Grade 1-placed Flora Dora.

Conor Phelan of Vinery hailed Tapit as a “freaky stallion” and said it was a shame he had never stood in Australasia. “But getting the foals and weanlings and mares in foal to him over here is the next best thing,” he added.

Tapit has not had much exposure on Australian racetracks yet, and trainers here might need some winning over before they fall in love with the American interloper, but Phelan drew an interesting comparison with Vinery's shuttle stallion par excellence, More Than Ready.

“Agents are well aware of Tapit and trainers would know of him, though they haven't had experience with his progeny yet and would still favour the colonial-bred, especially with all the success horses bred in Australia for two or three generations have had,” he said. “But obviously all the international buyers here are well aware of Tapit and his profile will grow domestically – he's too good to ignore.”

“Pulpit may not be too well-known down here, but that is only through lack of opportunity. I remember when we launched More Than Ready – a heap of people wrote him off as a dirt horse and said who the hell is Southern Halo? He started off at a fee of A$20,000 and didn't have the quality of mare some of the other shuttlers had that year, but he's been a phenomenon and is still going strong.”

More Than Ready is the sire of 19 Group/Grade 1 winners; is a rare beast as a shuttler equally brilliant in both hemispheres; and his superstar status was anointed last year when chosen as the latest mate for legendary sprinter Black Caviar, who is safely in foal.

Newgate Farm general manager Bruce Slade is another Tapit true believer.

“It's a global market now and people are well aware of what's happening in other jurisdictions and there's a healthy respect for Tapit here,” he says.

“We sold Morning Fix well here last year, so we're back with more this year. He's a leading global stallion and, on top of everything else, he's versatile - breeders can get the same for a filly as they do for a colt.”

If visitors to Magic Millions are not yet convinced by the charms of a Tapit foal in-utero and the chance to breed from the well-bred mares for years hereafter, perhaps a financial consideration will help.

Seven mares in foal to Tapit sold for an average of $1.375 million at the Keeneland November Sale last year; compared to that, the offerings on the Gold Coast will likely be a snip.

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I remember when we launched More Than Ready – a heap of people wrote him off as a dirt horse and said who the hell is [his sire] Southern Halo?

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