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Shadwell Success Underpins Another Strong Yearling Sale

Patrick Halkett | 30.04.2016

A buoyant yearling sale series continued when Shadwell Stud dominated the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney this year.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s breeding operation purchased 19 yearlings for a gross of $10,215,000, including two of the top ten lots, and finished the sale as the leading individual purchaser.

Shadwell Stud’s Angus Gold was impressed with the quality of yearling on offer at the Easter Sale and felt he had more success purchasing than in previous years.

“I thought there were a lot of very nice horses as you always get there,” Gold said. “For Inglis’ premier sale I thought the standard was very high.

“Sheikh Hamdan doesn’t come to the sale himself as he is always busy in Dubai at that time of year so he very much leaves it up to me, in conjunction with David Hayes in Australia and Mike De Kock in South Africa.

“I always try and stick within a certain budget. However, the last few years I have found it quite frustrating as we were underbidder on Wandjina; I was very keen to buy Deep Field; and we also wanted a nice filly called Kangarilla Joy.

“The last few years with the strength of the sale with the Americans coming in and the China Horse Club and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum has made it quite frustrating because what I want to do for Sheikh Hamdan is get him a stallion.

“If you get a stallion or two you start to pay for the operation that way through nomination income so this year I felt that we might have to pusher a bit harder to get the ones we really wanted.

“Sheikh Hamdan was happy with that so I said to David Hayes at the start of the week: ‘let’s try and find what we consider to be the star colts rather than just go out and buy big numbers of quite nice horses’. I said: ‘let’s concentrate on two or three of the really nice colts and see if we can buy them’.”

Gold’s pursuit of a stallion prospect for Shadwell Stud was epitomised by the $1,750,000 spent on a colt by Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) from the Arrowfield Stud draft.

Catalogued as Lot 433, the colt is the fourth foal out of the three-time Group One winner National Colour who to date has produced two winners in Circle Of Speed (Sebring) and Rafeef (Redoute’s Choice).

Gold also purchased Lot 44 for $900,000 and earmarked the yearling as a stallion prospect if he is successful on the racecourse.

The colt by Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) is out of Canadian-bred Listed winner Roses ‘N’ Wine (Broken Vow) and is a three-quarter brother to Spring Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Hampton Court (Redoute’s Choice) who now stands at Spendthrift Farm.

His second dam is Regent’s Fancy (Vice Regent), the dam of seven winners including Pete’s Fancy (Peteski) and Byzantine (Quiet American), who both won at Listed level. Further back this is the family of Makybe Diva (Desert King).

“That’s what we did to a degree; we bought two colts we both loved: a Snitzel colt and a Redoute’s Choice colt,” Gold said. “Hopefully if either of them can run they would be stallion prospects.”

Gold, who attended the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for the first time in X years, was delighted with his purchases and found it much easier to buy the yearlings he wanted than in previous years.

“The dynamic of the sale was very interesting. I found the first day much easier to buy on than in previous years. The second day got much stronger and we were underbidder on quite a few that day or we were just plain outbid as the sale really took off then.

“But overall I found it better to buy this year than I have for the last two or three years and I left really liking what we bought and I felt much happier.

“I had also been to the Gold Coast this year so we bought six or seven up there so that’s why we bought less numbers for David Hayes in Sydney and tried to concentrate on the quality at the top end.

“The way Australian racing is going at the moment, it is great to see so many international people getting involved now, with fantastic prize money, facilities and the quality of horses that have always been there.”

While Shadwell Stud were top purchaser of the week, it was Arrowfield Stud who led the way as leading vendor by aggregate, selling 21 lots for a gross of $9,510,000 at an average of $452,857.

Jon Freyer, Arrowfield’s bloodstock manager, was delighted with the effort made by his team, but did identify the ever-increasing challenge of presenting the correct yearlings for the Easter Sale.

“We’re really proud of the Arrowfield team effort that achieved our Easter Sale result – everyone on the farm, in the office and at the Sale worked hard and did their job brilliantly,” Freyer said.

“And we needed to, because the market is very challenging for everyone, buying or selling. We’re certainly finding it harder than ever to produce the ideal Easter yearling. We have to be super-selective about the horses we choose to offer, which is why we had a smaller draft this year.”

Freyer was also keen to acknowledge the excellent results of smaller stud farms with less stock to offer than their more powerful rivals.

“However, our job is made easier by the large number of foals we start with; the results achieved by boutique farms such as Cressfield, Element Hill, Highgrove Stud, Milburn Creek and Mill Park are simply outstanding,” he said.

The strength of Arrowfield Stud’s Easter Sale was also underpinned by the popularity of their stallions: Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt (Redoute’s Choice).

The Arrowfield triumvirate were responsible for 42 yearlings selling for a gross of $21,215,000 and sired ten of the 20 top-priced yearlings that were sold.

Freyer was delighted with the demand for Arrowfield stallions, in particular Redoute’s Choice, who was the leading sire by average (three or more sold) with 20 yearlings selling for an average of $573,250.

“It was exciting and very satisfying to see Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel & Not A Single Doubt dominate the top end of the sale, as sires of ten of the 20 top-priced yearlings,” Freyer said.

“For Redoute’s Choice especially the results were exceptional, reflecting his status as an elite stallion, and the stunning horses he continues to give us, 12 years after his first million-dollar yearling and his first Group One winner.

“Snitzel is following that example, making the most of every opportunity breeders give him.”

Meanwhile, Coolmore Australia’s flagship stallion Fastnet Rock (Danehill) again proved popular, with 44 yearlings by the sire selling for an average of $328.977 at a sale described by the stud as a “selective market”.

Lot 42, a Fastnet Rock colt who is a brother to Group Three winner Bull Point sold for  $1,200,000 to Tom Magnier, Gai Waterhouse, Julian Blaxland and Nordic Racing and Breeding from the draft of Newgate Farm (as agent).

The colt’s dam Rose Of Cimmaron (Bite The Bullet) is a sister to Mica’s Pride (Bite The Bullet), the dam of four-time Group One winner Criterion (Sebring) as well as stakes winners Varenna Miss (Redoute’s Choice) and Silently (Anabaa).

“The Fastnet Rock–Rose Of Cimmaron colt was a real talking horse around the sales grounds and was a standout physically. He’s an even better looking horse than his brother who was a big-priced yearling and was very talented,” Coolmore Australia’s bloodstock sales manager Shane McGrath told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Generally speaking the subsequent record of high-priced Fastnet Rock yearlings as racehorses is excellent, as the likes of Lake Geneva, Foxwedge, Rock ‘N’ Pop, Wanted , Zululand and company show, so it’s not hard to be optimistic about the future for a horse like him.

“We’re excited about him, our partners are excited about him and Gai is very excited about him, so fingers crossed he’ll be lucky.”

McGrath said it was understandable the progeny of Fastnet Rock were sought after at Easter given the sire consistently remains near the top of the Australian leading sires’ table.

“Generally speaking, Fastnet Rock had another very good sale and his progeny arguably represent even better value nowadays that they have done in years past given he’s consistently proven his ability to churn out good horses one after another, year in, year out,” McGrath said.

“Twenty-five of his progeny to pass through the ring at Easter were either the progeny of or siblings to Group One performers, so he’ll have abundant quality in his two-year-old crop again next season as he looks to continue incredible record of producing Group One horses from every crop.”

Progeny of Coolmore Australia’s first season sire Pierro (Lonhro) also continued his strong appeal at this year’s yearling sales, with 27 horses sold at an average of $204,074, with a top price of $750,000 for Lot 399,  the half-brother to the recently retired Criterion. The colt was purchased by Astute Bloodstock.

Fellow high-priced first season sire, Vinery Stud’s All Too Hard (Casino Prince), averaged $216,000 from 25 lots sold.

“Easter is traditionally a difficult place to bring the progeny of a first season stallion, they are competing with many of the best yearlings by the established stallions, but the progeny of Pierro performed well,” McGrath said.

“A number of those trainers and agents who purchased his progeny earlier in the year, were back to buy more at Easter, which is surely a positive endorsement. So You Think sets a fantastic precedent for him and they all have Pierro to beat in the race to be champion first season stallion next season.”

Overall, Coolmore Australia was second leading vendor by aggregate, selling 25 yearlings for $7,720,000 at an average of $285,926 and a top price of $1,800,00 for Lot 285, a brother to Australian Horse of the Year and Champion Sprinter Lankan Rupee (Redoute’s Choice).

“Coolmore brought a strong draft of horses to the sale and they sold very well in what was a selective market,” McGrath said.

“Given the amount of effort an investment that goes into producing a quality sales yearling, we set out before each sale with the objective of achieving a ‘perfect’ outcome for our draft and our clients.

“There are factors at any particular sale that have the potential to compromise results and there seems to be an every expanding train of thought to suggest that there are too many horses catalogued for the select sessions at Easter.

“To what extent a smaller ‘select’ book would affect the sale is unclear, but I’m sure it’s something that Inglis is giving due consideration to.”

Buying on behalf of China Horse Club, bloodstock agent Michael Wallace purchased ten yearlings, seven colts and three fillies, at the Easter sale, including Lot 315, a Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) colt for $700,000.

Wallace said his brief was to buy horses who had the physique to develop into early two-year-olds and fillies who would hold residual value once their career on the racetrack had finished.

“The market felt very solid for a decent-nice horse, as it has all year and signifies the buyers’ thoughts on the market, highlighted by the nice prize money on offer when compared to other racing jurisdictions. The statistics back this up,” Wallace told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“This sale still easily leads any others, for the prices, on quality bloodstock. When comparing the percentage of offered horses in categories of $1,000,000-plus  sales, sales of $500,000-plus and sales of $400,000-plus the statistics are compelling.

“The Easter sale percentages are at least twice as high as any other sale over two categories and nearly threefold in one case.”

Despite the competitive buying bench, Wallace said value could still be found away from the most expensive yearlings.

“An area I felt offered great opportunity in the market is the ‘middle market’. Year after year I believe this is an under exposed area by buyers in general,” he said.

“Often some of the best pedigreed horses you see during the year, are often snapped up at what I would perceive as very good value. While it seemed more syndicators were present at this year’s sale, their strength in this portion of the market in undeniable. I’m sure the results reflect this across the year.”

Wallace believes the strength of the Australasian yearling market was cemented by the 2016 sales series, emphasised by the increased averages across the board at all major sales.

“As the last of the major sale for the season, it capped a great selling period for the Australasian market, emphasised by the clearance rates across the board in 2016,” Wallace said.

“The Australasian market is now increasingly securing its position on the global selling schedule.”

Blue Sky Bloodstock’s Julian Blaxland, who bought in conjunction with Waterhouse, was the leading domestic buyer at the sale, purchasing 18 horses for a total of $7,402,500, including the $2,300,000 sale-topping half-brother to Winx (Street Cry) by Snitzel who was catalogued as Lot 135.

Blaxland agreed with Wallace that the Easter sale retained its traditionally strong top-end yearling quality and purchasing power.

“It’s generally always strong at Easter on the horses you want to buy, but I think if you treat the sale as any other and rate horses on their merits – you can find value in the market,” Blaxland told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Of course, some horses make a lot of money and are entitled to when high-end pedigrees match a quality physical type and, certainly, you run into the usual suspects when bidding on nice horses, such as Angus Gold, James Harron and Gerald Ryan. We get to find out who got it right in about 12 to 18 months.”

Blaxland believes there were missed opportunities for some buyers, with value at the middle to lower-end of the catalogue.

“The headlines may focus on the top sellers and the big pedigrees, and for that reason I noticed the absence of a few local trainers and buyers this year. There were over 200 lots that sold for $150,000 or less and over 100 lots sold for $100,000 or less.,” he said.

“Just an observation, but I think some buyers can focus too much on the big pedigrees and think they can’t get into the market.”

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s racing manager Tim Stakemire bought 11 yearlings totalling $5,395,000, an amount similar to what was spent by Al Adiyaat Racing and Breeding at the 2015 Easter sale on four yearlings.

Stakemire’s most expensive purchase was Lot 158, a More Than Ready (Southern Halo) colt out of Absolute Joy (Zabeel), a half-sister to four-time Group One winner Tuesday Joy (Carnegie), who was sold for $925,000.

“The yearlings this year in terms of quality were second to none and would be regarded by many top judges to be right up there with some of the best you will find throughout the world,” Stakemire told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“We purchased a few more fillies this year and found a few colts that didn’t enter into that million dollar bracket. There was no real strategy but after consulting the trainers we use and getting them the horses they liked and we liked I feel we walked away with some bargain buys.”

Mark Webster, Inglis managing director, believes the success of Redoute’s Choice, Hinchinbrook (Fastnet Rock) and Snitzel highlights the strength the Easter Sale.

“Easter yet again demonstrated that it is the place to sell progeny by proven sires, emerging sires and from first and second crop stallions,” Webster said.

“Redoute’s Choice’s Session One average of $573,250 was more than double what he achieved at any other Australian yearling sale this year.”

“Yarraman Park Stud’s emerging sensation Hinchinbrook joined the $1,000,000 club with his colt from Al’s Magic Miss at Easter this year.

“It was only three years ago that Snitzel had his first million dollar yearling, which was Easter graduate Wandjina, and now Snitzel has had the sale topper the last two years at Easter.”

Webster also identified the success of emerging stallions at the Easter Sale in comparison to levels achieved at other yearling sales this year.

“Second season sires So You Think, Sepoy and others recorded their best results of the year at Easter,” he said. “There was tremendous support for first-season sires, with the progeny of previous Inglis Easter Sale topper All Too Hard selling up to a record $600,000 and average of $242,000, while Frankel was a big success with four sold at an average of $865,000, which is very encouraging for breeders looking to sell his next crop at Easter in 2017.

“Easter is renowned for its versatility in producing Group One winning two-year-olds to champion three-year-olds to weight-for-age greats that can travel the world

“Therefore, it should come as no surprise to that there was an impressive variety of stallions who recorded their highest-priced Southern Hemisphere yearling at 2016 Easter, including but not limited to; Snitzel, Frankel, Hinchinbrook, Medaglia d’Oro, Not A Single Doubt, Dalakhani, All Too Hard and Choisir.”

A diverse stallion mix was contributing factor to the overall success of the sale, according to Webster.

“Given the different mix of stallions represented this year to average over $280,000 in Session One and $88,000 in Session Two at an overall clearance rate of 83% is a wonderful result.

“The sale average has risen 13 per cent over the last two years from $250,000 in 2014 and we’ve already started planning on big things for Easter 2017.”

Overall Webster was delighted with the level of competition at the Easter Sale and with the results in general.

“There was increased competition from local trainers and syndicators this year, which was very encouraging to see in the results,” he said. “Over 150 yearlings were sold to trainers licensed in Australia, while 29 lots were sold to syndicators up from 13 last year.

“The results were very good indeed. A Session One clearance rate of 84% and average of $284,000 is a fabulous result for the vendors and breeders that supported the sale with their best yearlings yet again.

“We welcomed new and existing clients from all over Australia and the globe to Sydney and the competition for the yearlings was immense, highlighted by 50 lots selling for $500,000 or more, including nine for $1,000,000 or greater.”

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