Redwall Bloodstock make statement of intent with Australian foal spend
Mark Scully speaks to Hannah Wall about her pinhooking ambitions
There may be concerns about how yearling markets in Britain and Ireland will hold up in the wake of the disappointments of the breeze-up season but the Australian scene is buoyant and Hannah Wall is seeking to make hay in the sunshine.
Her Redwall Bloodstock, set up alongside David Redvers and featuring former Rugby stars Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel, made a splash at last month's Magic Millions Gold Coast National Weanling Sale when signing for seven foals.
Having spent A$410,500 (£234,115/€266,860) at the 2017 sale, Redwall Bloodstock brought on more investment in order to set their sights higher this time around and left the sales complex with the same number of weanlings, only this time for an outlay a shade over A$1 million (£570,220/€650,025).
"We wanted to have a slightly bigger pool to buy the better horses, the horses we really wanted," Wall explains. "We had to take a slightly smaller piece of them as a result but it just meant we could get the ones we really wanted."
Unsurprisingly given Wall and Redvers' association with the stallion via their Qatar Racing boss Sheikh Fahad, foals by Zoustar featured prominently on that list, with three being bought in the end, including for a top price of A$310,000.
Zoustar has made a flying start with his first crop of juveniles, headed by the Group 2 winner Sunlight, a fact that has been reflected in the price of his yearlings during 2018.
"We went very hard on Zoustar, who's had the most phenomenal start," says Wall. "We're very keen to get behind his stock, not only because they're beautiful types but because of what he has on the ground already and the yearlings he has coming through. For us, we felt buying nice types by him was a no-brainer because we have so much confidence in him.
"I would be a huge fan of the horse even if we were not remotely associated with him but the fact that we're invested in him anyway is lovely."
Having the opportunity to benefit from the start made by an emerging force like Zoustar would be a shot in the arm for any organisation but it is not the only factor driving the continued emergence in Australia of Redwall Bloodstock, set up in 2009 and working down under for a third year.
Wall acknowledges that lessons have been learned from previous years and she now has a clear idea of what she hopes to buy in order to bring back to the sales in 2019, most likely at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January.
"This is the third year we've bought horses," Wall says. "As with anything in a new market, we've learned hugely as we've gone along, from our successes and our mistakes. We've tried to streamline our approach so it can be the most effective and have tried to stick to first-season or proven sires."
On the yearling sales scene, Wall adds: "The market appears to be getting stronger and stronger in Australia, the facts support that from each sale. Trade on the Gold Coast in January this year was incredible and the quality of foals who have shown up for auction at the weanling sales there and at Inglis has improved year on year since I've been doing it.
"That's why we wanted to have enough money to go and get the horses we wanted and not leave anything behind."
It was the state of the market closer to home that first prompted the Redwall team to look to Australia to set up a separate branch of their operation, with the competition for the best weanlings driving prices to an level whereby profit margins were being eaten into.
"There are exactly the same foals on everyone's lists, so you were paying a premium to buy them," Wall says.
"There are many more active pinhookers in Europe than there appear to be in Australia but the numbers are increasing as more and more foals come on the market.
"Historically, if you look at the amount of foals offered, a lot of them were big operations culling their lesser types rather than taking them through to yearlings, whereas now people are targeting foal sales. At the same time, there is so much strength in depth in the Australian yearling market and that, coupled with how much more easily accessible syndication is, drives the market overall and means there is more opportunity."
Redwall Bloodstock bought a total of eight foals in Australia during 2018 and while the Inglis Great Southern Sale is up next on the calendar, commitments in Europe for Wall and Redvers means the shopping is done for the year.
The young horses have been shipped off to Widden Stud, where they will be boarded and prepared for sale next year, when the Redwall team will discover just how shrewd their aggressive approach this year was.
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