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Hawkes on top with A$1.8m Exceed And Excel colt following Coolmore tussle

Sale topper: this Exceed And Excel colt, pictured with Cressfield yearling manager Kim Rieck and colleague Dave Harrison, made A$1.8 million
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The stallion-making stable of Hawkes Racing on Friday warded off heavyweights Coolmore in a tense but theatrical bidding duel to ensure a A$1.8 million (£947,000/€1.15m) Exceed And Excel colt became the most expensive yearling by the champion stallion.

The colt was also the highest-priced yearling sold on day three of the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

For Exceed And Excel, Friday’s results continued a remarkable past 12 months in the sales ring and on the track. Late in the day, an Exceed And Excel colt also reached an even A$1m (£530,000/€620,000), marking a milestone for breeder Ian Smith of Edinburgh Park as his first yearling sold for seven figures.

Wayne Hawkes, stood alongside father John and brother Michael, was just metres from the Coolmore team as they vied for the session-topping Cressfield-bred-and-sold colt, and he knew they would have to dig deep to ensure the highly-vaunted yearling returned home with them.

Hawkes said: “He was the colt of the sale we thought, so when Coolmore walked in about Lot 635 I said to MV [Magnier], ‘Here we go, Lot 640’, and he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t get aggressive’. 

“I said, ‘I’m not aggressive’, and he just looked at me and smiled. To their credit Tom Magnier just came up and said, ‘Well done’. 

“It wasn't easy, that's for sure, and certainly they’re a pretty tough crowd to get past.”

While yesterday’s session-topper created a new sale benchmark for Exceed And Excel, the colt is the eighth million-dollar yearling – and second at this year’s sale – by Darley’s flagbearer.

He is the second foal out of dual Group 1-winning mare Platelet, who won ten races.

Hawkes continued: “Everyone says Magic Millions and Golden Slipper and everything like that, but I've won a couple of them, the old boy has won four of them. I certainly know what it takes to win a Golden Slipper. 

“The bottom line is he's a beautiful athlete, which is what you’re looking for. He's got the sire's side with Exceed And Excel, but when you see a mum who has two Group 1 wins as a sprinter, it’s very hard to find those mares. 

“A lot of times people don’t sell the progeny out of those mares.” 

Smith savours magical moment for Edinburgh Park

Edinburgh Park’s Smith, meanwhile, was elated after selling his first million dollar colt, eight years after coming so close to reaching the elusive figure.

A long-time breeder, Smith thought he had achieved the milestone in 2012 when he offered Bull Point, but the bidding was pulled back from seven figures to $960,000 (£504,690/€594,940).

The Exceed And Excel colt is the fourth foal out of US-winning mare Smokin’ Alice, a family Smith has invested in strongly, while she has already produced stakes-placed pair Eleven Eleven and War Memorial.

“We went close one year with Bull Point, and today we finally got to a million, which is another mountain climbed,” said Smith.

“We went and sourced those mares in America, we have a whole heap back at home, and they’re in foal to the best stallions in the country. This is proof that this is what the market wants.”

Smith also reserved praise for Exceed And Excel, adding: “He’s a fantastic stallion. We’ve got three mares at home in foal to him and, value for money, he’s the best stallion in the country.”

It was Rosehill-based Gerald Ryan who zoomed in on the colt after inspecting him a week ago and was determined to buy him despite having to pay double what he thought he would make.

Ryan said: “He's a lovely, athletic, great moving colt. I've sat back and waited for him and that's why we haven't bought many others." 

Houtzen’s sister makes A$1 million

The sister to 2017 Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Houtzen also reached an even A$1m (£530,000/€620,000), with the filly bound for the Peter and Paul Snowden stable and set for a ‘California’ moniker.

Asian Bloodstock Services’ Marie Yoshida, who acts for prominent Hong Kong owner Howard Liang, alluded to having her eye on another yearling after securing the Astern half-brother to Group 3 winner California Zimbol early on day one.

Houtzen: sister to the sprinter was sold for A$1m

And so she did, buying the Yarraman Park Stud-consigned filly, who is the fourth foal out of Set To Unleash.

“This is the horse of the sale and we’re so thankful and blessed to purchase her,” said Yoshida.

“I cannot believe it. You just have to turn and see Houtzen on the wall here as a Magic Millions winner and we can buy her. The mother has an I Am Invincible filly and she’s back in foal to the stallion, while Houtzen is in foal to Curlin – it’s a golden family. 

“She has the walk and she has the moves – she’s the most gorgeous horse in the sale.”

Sale statistics

2020 figure/2019 figure

Catalogued 786/795
Offered 718/722
Sold 628/624
Aggregate A$158,327,000/A$149,380,000
Average A$252,113/A$237,866
Median A$180,000/A$170,000
Top Lot A$1.9 million/A$1.6 million

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The bottom line is he's a beautiful athlete, which is what you’re looking for
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