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Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale

Patrick Halkett | 11.07.2016

A strong international contingent ensured that this year’s Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale achieved some staggering results and continued a memorable year for the Gold Coast-based sales company.

After three days of Book One at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, the company’s all-time record fee was broken, the aggregate was up $12,382,000 on the previous year and a strong Asian-funded contingent dominated the leading buyers table.

The sale’s key indicators told the story of a buoyant market – the clearance rate grew from 79 per cent last year to 82 per cent in 2016 and the average price rose 14 per cent from $117,017 to $133,600.

The top ten per cent of the market was on average, very similar to the 2015 figure when this bracket averaged $581,389 compared to $571,984 this year. The middle market however was the section that showed the largest gains with the 41 – 50 per cent bracket up 30 per cent from $54,481 to $70,310.

This was echoed in the figures for the median, with this bracket up 30 per cent from $54,000 a year ago to $70,000 while the top ten per cent fell 13 per cent from $460,000 in 2015 to $400,000 this year.

The highlight of the sale came when the China Horse Club and Bruce Perry Bloodstock combined to purchase Listen Here (Elusive Quality) from the Edinglassie Stud draft for a record-breaking $3,400,000.

The daughter of Elusive Quality (Gone West), who was catalogued as Lot 1375 and was sold in foal to Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado), is the dam of Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner and now Darley stallion Shooting To Win (Northern Meteor).

Her only other foal to race is the Tab.Com.Au Stakes (registered as Linlithgow Stakes) (Gr 2, 1200m) winner and now Newgate Farm-based stallion Deep Field (Northern Meteor).

Vin Cox, managing director for Magic Millions, saw the opportunity to sell Listen Here as a huge compliment to the company.

“It was a huge thrill on a lot of levels,” Cox told ANZ Bloodstock News. “To be trusted with a mare of that calibre is fabulous and it gives you a great platform to get out and attract the leading broodmare buyers from across the world.

“And then to deliver well beyond the vendor’s expectations was great too, so it proves that our market is mature enough to handle mares of that ilk and get real money for them.”

Co-purchaser Bruce Perry was not surprised by the level of interest in the mare, who is due to be covered by Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) this season.

“The competition for her was unbelievable but expected,” Perry told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“She is a gem who I am sure will prove to be a wonderful acquisition for Cressfield and the China Horse Club for many years to come, be it through her or her future generations.”

Michael Wallace of the China Horse Club echoed the sentiments of Perry, describing the sale of Listen Here as a “unique opportunity”, and was impressed by the strength of the sale on the whole.

“The Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale was an extraordinarily strong sale, through all aspects of the market,” he told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“The demand for commercial mares is extremely strong and the market is bullish on the short-term outlook. Rises in all the pointers across the board clearly identify this.

“We played a small part in the strengthening of the market at this sale no doubt, coupled with greater across the board demand and an overall trend in supply weakness in foal crops.”

Increased buying from the China Horse Club, who purchased 14 lots for a total of $9,345,000, is down in part to the group’s expanding investment in Australian stallions, according to Wallace.

“The China Horse Club have growing stallion equity in Australia and it’s our belief and policy that supporting these stallions both in the breeding shed, and also in time, in the sale ring is essential to giving these stallions the opportunity to achieve long-term success.  

“If you have the faith to buy them as stallion prospects you need to back this up with conviction through the entire process. Passive investment is a bit like rowing with one oar.”

While complimentary about the depth of the broodmare market, Wallace does believe that a period of stabilisation would be beneficial for the industry in the long run.

“The market as a whole has reached a point where I’d like to see some stabilisation, however,” he said. “Stallion prices off the track have continued to rise, now to levels where it’s an increasingly fine line to ensure return on this investment over a short-term position.

“While the stallion price market is strong the service fee market is highly competitive. The unfortunate death of a number of our select commercial leading stallions over the last 30 months, have shifted the focus to other areas. The $20,000 – $30,000 service fee range stallion market is highly competitive.

“Further foreign investment from a number of parties from China and an increasing presence from the USA, with leading operations like WinStar, Stonestreet, Spendthrift and Glen Hall Farms shows an increasing awareness and confidence in our Australian product and market on an international stage.

“We are currently no doubt in a very healthy market, one which will please a majority of breeding industry participants. I just hope the equilibrium of this can be sustained.”

The China Horse Club formed part of a strong Asian-backed buying contingent which commanded a strong market share with Sun Stud and Aquis Farm also featuring prominently in the leading purchasers table.

The latter, Aquis Farm, purchased the most broodmares with 28 lots for a total of $2,633,500.

Like the China Horse Club, Aquis Farm were buying stock to support their new stallion roster, according to Kacy Fogden.

“The appeal for us buying on the Gold Coast at this time of year is huge, especially since the stallion have just arrived,” she told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Obviously it is very important to us that we support our own stallions not just with quantity but quality and the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale allowed us to do that.”

Fogden was full of praise for the catalogue assembled by the Magic Millions team and also observed the strength of the international buying bench.

“I thought the sale was very competitive and Magic Millions did another great job with their catalogue.

“They attracted a wide international buying bench including a lot of competitive foreign buyers, not to mention the strength from the local market.”

While Chinese investment dominated the market, American purchasers also helped drive an upturn in the sale aggregate with Marette Farrell purchasing two lots on behalf of Mount Brilliant Farm for a gross of $940,000.

Farrell heaped praise on the recent success achieved by the Australian bloodstock market and believes the success of the sale was testament to the buoyancy of the Thoroughbred market as a whole.

“I found the sale very strong across the board,” Farrell told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Broodmare sales are a gauge of breeders perception of the future because mares are a long-term investment.

“The enthusiasm to reinvest evident in this sale was certainly an indicator of the vibrancy of the Australian industry.

“And internationals want to be a part of it as evidenced by Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Farm and Spendthrift’s commitment to Australia by buying a farm in Victoria.”

The desire to compliment the Mr Prospector (Raise A Native) bloodlines in US racing was a driving force behind Farrell’s trip to the Gold Coast.

“I came over here for Mt Brilliant Farm from Kentucky, which is owned by Greg Goodman.

“He and his son Hutton have built up an elite boutique broodmare band of around 25 mares.

“I would like to describe them as ‘frontier’ breeders. They want their mares to have international appeal.

“They understand the efficacy of trying to find something else outside of the multiple strains of Mr Prospector that will blend.

“Mr Prospector is a speed influence and the modern day Australian lines are speed oriented also and the benefits of Northern Dancer and Mr Prospector crossing well are evident to everyone.

“However, we all know how certain families do well in one country but falter when introduced to a different gene pool in another country, so the plan has always been to find a connection to US horses in the families.

“This connection allied with the idea of a different genetic pool that could provide an outcross of sorts brought the idea of Australian mares to the forefront.”

Farrell confessed that she had originally attended the sale with a view to purchasing a mare from the family of Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) but was nevertheless delighted to secure Lot 1350, Golden Cropper (More Than Ready), from draft of Teeley Assetts for $650,000.

“Vin Cox alerted them to the Teeley Dispersal and we came down with the intention of bringing back one of those mares from Redoute’s Choice family to the US. Unfortunately we were direct underbidder three times and came away empty-handed and scarred!

“The appeal for us was the fact that Golden Cropper’s famous family in Australia actually sources from blue hen mares Stolen Hour and her daughter Best In Show who were US-based.

“They spawned a dynasty that spread across continents and parts of the extended family are owned by the very best breeders in the world.

“The family stretches to Champion three year old Peeping Fawn in England and Ireland along with Belmont Stakes winner Rags To Riches which are owned by the extended Coolmore group.

“This family keeps regenerating, with many descendants having racing success in America, despite being bred in different countries.”

Farrell also purchased Lot 1056, Darci’s Dream (Darci Brahma), for $290,000 from the Oakwood Farm draft.

The New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) runner-up is out of Van Nistelrooy (Storm Cat) mare Sweet Dreams Baby, which makes her a sister to dual-Listed winner Windborne.

The desire to introduce a mare descended from the Northern Dancer (Nearctic) line was behind the purchase, according to Farrell.

“Darci’s Dream is by Darci Brahma who is by Danehill out of a Zabeel mare,” Farrell said.

“While he is statistically a really good sire, he is too young to be a broodmare sire of note yet. However, for us in the USA, the gene pool is important as Zabeel is by Sir Tristram who in turn is by Sir Ivor who was bred in the US. Also there is Nureyev on the dam side which stood in the US.

“(Darci’s Dream) is Group One-placed and traces back to Lianga of Danehill Dancer fame  and it is also the family of successful sire Street Sense.

“This lineage also has as its descendants like Breeders Cup winner Reraise and Kentucky Derby winner Count Turf, too.

“A more recent winner from this extended family is Group One winning Speightstown filly, Mona De Momma, who was a very fast filly over seven furlongs to a mile in the US.

“We believe that there was certainly value to be had for us regarding spending $290,000 for a Group One-placed filly that is a mirror image of many of the great Danehill mares.

“The US horses could do with some more bone and substance and this mare also has a huge walk to compliment her typically powerful New Zealand / Australian physique.”

The development of the international market has been particularly pleasing for Cox.

“The Chinese and American buyers have been a revelation over the last three or four years.

“If you go back beyond that those markets were not operating at any level in any country and it’s a fantastic compliment for our industry and for Magic Millions that those purchasers are supporting the industry.”

The impact made by Chinese and American purchasers was also not lost on Damon Gabbedy, whose Belmont Bloodstock Agency purchased 18 lots for a total of $2,968,500 at an average of $164,917.

“There is no doubt that the strength in the market is being driven by the increased level of international investment,” he told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“You only have to look at the results sheet – the Chinese and Americans have made a real impact in our industry and I am sure the Europeans will follow in a bigger way very soon.”

The strength of the sale was abundantly clear to Gabbedy.

“The 2016 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale was possibly the strongest sale I have attended in all the years I have been in business,” he said.

“The sale was electric from the moment the first racemare came into the ring and the intensity remained until the very end when the auditorium was on a knife edge waiting for Listen Here.

“The demand is red-hot for young Group performed mares as maidens or carrying their first or second pregnancy.”

One such mare was the Willow Park Stud-consigned Lot 611, Bounding (Lonhro), who sold to Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings for $1,900,000.

Winner of the 2014 Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) in New Zealand, Bounding went on to win the Heath 1000 Stakes (Gr 3, 1100m) at Caulfield last August when transferred to the stable of Peter and Paul Snowden.

The sale of Bounding was a contributory factor in Willow Park Stud finishing the sale as the leading vendor on aggregate with 35 broodmares sold for a gross of $7,907,000 and an average of $225,914.

Glenn Burrows of Willow Park Stud was delighted by the results achieved by the Scone-based operation.

“It was an extremely satisfying sale for all of us here at Willow Park,” he told ANZ Bloodstock News. “To sell our homebred champion Bounding for an incredible $1,900,000 and then be leading vendor by aggregate is an enormous thrill.

“We sold mares worth a total of almost $8,000,000 which has set a new benchmark for a Southern Hemisphere draft of mares apart from a couple of major dispersal sales.”

The progress made in recent years by Willow Park Stud is particularly pleasing for Burrows.

“Our Magic Millions broodmare aggregate has grown exponentially year-on-year from $575,000 in 2012 to $7,900,000 this year.

“During this period we have sold 95 mares from 98 offered which is about 97 per cent clearance and is a remarkable statistic in anyone’s book.

“The influx of new international money, particularly from China, was extremely positive whilst domestically, it again showed that our own breeders are reducing in numbers.”

Like Gabbedy, Burrows noted the shift from well established producers to mares that are on their first or second covering to a new stallion.

“The broodmare market has become extremely polarised,” he said. “If you have a young, commercial mare off the track, who is in foal and in their first or second season at stud then the demand is great.

“If the mare has had two or more foals without a stakes horse on board then the depth of buyer isn’t there to provide a fair price for these girls and there is certainly plenty of value and opportunity to be had in this section of the market.”

Medaglia d’Oro headed the table of leading covering sires with all six of the mares in foal to him offered sold for $4,980,000 at an average of $830,000. Also popular were mares in foal to Arrowfield Stud’s Snitzel (Redoute’s CHoice) with all eight offered selling for an average $385,000.

The popularity of the National Broodmare Sale amongst breeders means that it has become a ‘must-attend’ event, according to Cox.

“It has been staggering how far the sale has come in the last three years,” he said.

“It has really come of age and has become one of three major broodmare sales in the world with Tattersalls in the UK, Keeneland in the US and us in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Cox is excited about what the future holds for the National Broodmare Sale.

“We are particularly proud of what the sale has achieved and where it is going. It has become an event that wherever you are in the world, you have to be there, and that is very exciting.”

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