Blue Gum Farm and Oakland Park rise to top with $725,000 Snitzel colt
Aquis lands session-stealer as 2020 momentum continues at Inglis Premier Sale
An emotional Philip Campbell admits his family’s Blue Gum Farm cannot compete on the stallion front against the international conglomerates but the Victorian stud has again demonstrated its capacity to prepare high-class stock at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
The long-time leading vendor sold the highest-priced lot on day one, a $725,000 Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) colt, for loyal Western Australian breeders Neville and Susan Duncan of Oakland Park Stud.
After a $200,000 opening bid, he was eventually knocked down to Aquis Farm’s Brian McGuire who outlasted Boomer Bloodstock’s Craig Rounsefell to secure the colt who is out of a half-sister to the stud’s young stakes-winning stallion Jukebox (Snitzel).
He is the third most expensive yearling ever sold in Victoria behind the $1.4 million I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) half-brother to The Quarterback (Street Boss) who went through Oaklands Junction in 2017 and an $800,000 Brazen Beau (I Am Invincible) colt who went through the same ring last year.
The colt also set a new benchmark for Blue Gum Farm, surpassing the $700,000 achieved for another son of Snitzel in 2016, in an opening session which saw solid trade and a trend that was up on the 2019 sale.
“We’ve had a long wait for that colt because we knew he was very special. We’ve had the privilege of selling some cracking colts here in the past and we knew this fella was right up there amongst them,” Campbell said.
“To see the quality of people going after him and the amount of money that they were prepared to pay for him, it was very, very satisfying.”
The fact Blue Gum Farm prepared the colt for the Duncans added to the momentous occasion for Campbell who receives the Oakland Park Stud yearlings for the Premier sale in late November or early December each year.
“I’ll get emotional because they are just the nicest people and they are brilliant breeders,” he said.
“They keep sending us quality horses year after year for this sale. It’s just a pleasure to work with them and I’m just so happy that we’ve been able to have another great result for them.”
The leading vendor at the Premier sale twice in the past five years, Blue Gum Farm’s presence as a stallion operation has plateaued in recent years as it became increasingly hard to compete against the likes of Spendthrift Australia and Aquis Farm.
“We offer a broodmare service whereby we have some beautiful broodmare bands on our farm and we walk those mares out to stallions on farms like the people you are talking about and we specialise in yearling preparation,” he said.
“Our record at this sale for the past five or six years proves that we have got it right.
“I believe that we have got a fantastic system going at home.
“We can’t compete with those farms on the stallion front but it is all a matter of doing what you do and doing it properly and I think that is where we are at.”
One of 33 yearlings to make $200,000 or more yesterday, up from 28 the previous year, the top-priced colt is the third foal out of the twice-winning mare Jestajingle (Lonhro) who is a half-sister to the former Ciaron Maher-trained Jukebox and Molto Allegro (Fast ‘N’ Famous), herself the dam of Listed winner Beethoven (Helmet). He was catalogued as Lot 227.
Aquis Farm managing director Shane McGrath had a high opinion of the colt from early inspections and believes they secured him for a reasonable price.
The appeal of the colt was backed up by the fact that Maher held his close relation Jukebox, who won his first three starts, including two as an early season juvenile.
“We thought that was about where he was,” McGrath said.
“He’s a top level colt by a champion sire. We thought he was a super mover, he looks a real two-year-old and he comes from great breeders as well.
“Phillip Campbell has done a lovely job preparing him and at the end of the day you only need one other person to be taking you along.
“That’s what these horses make so I was glad to get him and if you look across the board at these top quality colts, that’s what they’re going to make and they’re expensive at the moment but if they can win a nice race, it’s a future stallion prospect for us.
On the ties to Aquis’ resident stallion Jukebox, McGrath said: “We’ve had a bit of luck with him (Jukebox) and he wasn’t dissimilar to him.
“I thought looking at the horse, he had a great action as well and he looks like a horse that can get up and going early. We’ve had a bit of luck in the last couple of Breeders Plates (with Dubious and Global Quest) and I think that’s the sort of target for him going forward.”
It didn’t take long for Ciaron Maher and training partner David Eustace to strike big on day one of the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, going to $460,000 to secure a colt by Teofilo (Galileo) in the first hour of selling.
There was strong competition for the Yulong-offered yearling in the ring but Maher said he would have “went a bit more” for what he hailed as one of the best colts of the sale.
He was the highest-priced of nine yearlings purchased by the large-scale operation on day one.
“I loved him as a type, he ticked all the boxes for what I look for in a yearling and hopefully he’s one for the future,” Maher said.
“He was from a good farm by a good stallion and he was a great type and if they tick all those boxes, generally they’ve got a hefty price tag.”
“He was one of the obvious ones so you didn’t have to be too tricky to spot him. I would have gone a bit more but that’s sort of where I rated him so it was great to get him for that price.”
Catalogued at Lot 25, the colt is out of Andes (Street Cry) who is a sister to Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) runner-up Tupac Amaru and a half-sister Spring Champion Stakes (Gr 1 2000m) runner-up and Group 3 winner Aramayo (Poet’s Voice).
“You sort of hope he’s a Guineas type or maybe a classic horse,” Maher continued.
“He seemed very clean, very athletic and had a very good temperament. It’s very busy down the back and it’s a lot of pressure for them when they’re young and he seemed to handle that quite well so he just ticked all the boxes.”
The sale of the colt continued a big week on and off the track for Yulong, with the six-figure yearling coming after the farm secured an interest in Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa) and that of C F Orr Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winner Alabama Express (Redoute’s Choice).
“It was a really nice result as we bought the mare for $90,000 carrying that colt. It’s nice, as a Victorian farm, to be able to bring a horse like that to Melbourne Premier and sell well,” Yulong’s chief operating officer Sam Fairgray said.
“We’ve got a broodmare band of 180 now and with the acquisition of the new stallions, we’ve got to build a reputation of being able to sell good racehorses.
“It was also good to have our first stakes winner off the new property (on Saturday) in Hungry Heart.”
Boomer Bloodstock’s Craig Rounsefell also made his mark on the Premier sale during the opening session, purchasing six lots for a number of parties including a $460,000 Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) colt on behalf of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
One of eight yearlings bought so far in 2020 for the Asian racing behemoth in conjunction with Ascot Farm’s Bruce Harvey, whose New Zealand operation breaks in and educates the southern hemisphere yearlings for the HKJC, Rounsefell described the Vinery Stud-consigned colt as “a lovely athletic type”.
“He’s a little immature, but he has an abundance of quality, is a great mover and he will develop into a beautiful three-year-old,” Rounsefell said,
“His dam has consistently thrown talented, sound racehorses that improve with time – that’s the profile we want for Hong Kong.”
By the same sire as Hong Kong’s rising star Golden Sixty, the colt is the ninth foal out of the unraced mare Base Paradise (Choisir), making him a half-brother to South African Grade 2 winner Brazuca (Teofilo) and the Perth Listed winner Mr Utopia (Elusive Quality). He was catalogued as Lot 45.
Rounsefell also went to $330,000 yesterday for a Teofilo colt from Rosemont Stud for the HKJC.
“So far we’ve purchased eight colts this year for Hong Kong, across Magic Millions, Inglis and Karaka Sales who will all head to Bruce Harvey for breaking and early education,” he said.
“We’re staying clear of the popular, precocious two-year-old types and instead looking for horses with scope and quality that look like they will grow into lovely three-year-olds.
“We’ve targeted proven sires, with an emphasis on those with Hong Kong success. So far, we’ve purchased colts by Hinchinbrook, Street Boss, Savabeel, Pins, Reliable Man, Tavistock and now Teofilo and Medaglia d’Oro.”
The Teofilo colt, who was catalogued as Lot 4, is from the last southern hemisphere crop of the Darley shuttler and he set a new benchmark for consignor Rosemont Stud during inspections.
“He’s been our most popular horse ever at Premier in terms of inspections and vet checks, x-rays and scopes. The horse was run off his feet, but he coped with it and bloomed,” Rosemont Stud principal Anthony Mithen said.
“He goes to the HKJC who have been good supporters of the Australian industry and ours. They’ve bought some nice horses off us in the past, so hopefully the trend continues.”
He is a half-brother to two winners from two foals to race for the unraced mare Zanova (Zabeel) who in turn is a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Sacred Star (Flying Spur).
When Victorian breeder Andrew McDonald paid just $6000 for Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) mare Dom Perion in 2015 little did he realise the diamond she would become.
Five years later, the valuable mare is the dam of Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) winner Extra Brut and yesterday the dual stakes winner’s Domesday (Red Ransom) yearling brother made $380,000 off an $8800 (inc GST) service fee at Premier.
The colt was bought by trainer Danny O’Brien for owner John Wheeler who also shares in the ownership of talented northern hemisphere-bred stablemate Russian Camelot (Camelot).
“A good client and our great mate Andrew McDonald bought the mare Dom Perion in foal to what became Extra Brut,” vendor Ryan Arnel of Stonehouse Thoroughbreds said.
“Consequently, we sold the Domesday colt weanling for him for $50,000, which was a tremendous result given where Domesday was at then, and he went on to be sold at the Classic sale and became Extra Brut.
“Andrew, on his own accord, did a full blood mating again and this is the foal that has come from that. He has come on in leaps and bounds.”
The competition for the colt was intense with a number of parties bidding on him before O’Brien won out.
But Arnel said “you never expect anything” when asked about pre-sale expectations for Extra Brut’s brother whose mother was covered by Coolmore’s first season sire, the unbeaten US Triple Crown champion Justify (Scat Daddy) in 2019. He was catalogued as Lot 131.
“Our job as vendors is to keep our clients as realistic as possible,” he said.
“It was certainly well over the reserve that we initially set, but I did expect him to go around the $200,000 sort of mark. North our south of that, you just never know.
“The best strategy on a strong market like this – and it has been an incredible Melbourne Premier sale; inspections are through the roof and everybody is here – is to get them on the market and leave it up to the market to determine the value of the horse.”
One of the marquee lots on day one, O’Brien said the colt had been identified as a horse ideal for Wheeler.
“He races quite a few staying horses with us and John does a lot of his own stuff and he found the horse, to be fair,” O’Brien said.
“He looks at all the horses himself and this was his pick of that sale. When I looked at him, it was pretty hard not to like the horse.
“He’s a beautiful, scopey, strong staying style of horse. We’re always here trying to buy horses that can maybe win a Derby and his full-brother won one and hopefully we can get this guy to win a nice race as well.”
The threat of a coronavirus pandemic and plunging world markets seemingly did not have any impact at the Premier sale, with buyer sentiment pushing the average and median up year on year for the Victorian auction.
The depth and diversity of the catalogue and a spread of buyers was credited for some of the market enthusiasm witnessed yesterday.
The average of $138,500 was up ten per cent, while the median of $120,000 was also up from $100,000.
There were 18 different stallions represented in the top 20 lots sold yesterday, illustrating the wide range of yearlings sought by buyers.
Inglis general manager of bloodstock sales and marketing Sebastian Hutch admitted not everything went to plan yesterday despite the clearance rate increasing throughout the day to 75 per cent.
“Inevitably you approach any sale day with a degree of apprehension as a lot of work goes into it, vendors invest a lot of time and effort in preparing horses for a sale and we take on a degree of responsibility for making sure they achieve a positive outcome,” Hutch said.
“It’s rewarding to go through a day like today where you see so many people so pleased with their results.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a perfect day, there are factors we’ll be looking to improve on through this evening and tomorrow and into Tuesday, but there were a lot of very rewarding results and I think we can take a lot of positives out of it.”
Day two starts at 10am today.
Breeding: Dundeel – Daisy Can Too (Mossman) colt
Buyer: James Harron Bloodstock
Vendor: Three Bridges Thoroughbreds
Bidding on the phone from inside the auditorium, James Harron secured a Dundeel (High Chaparral) colt from the draft of Three Bridges Thoroughbreds for $380,000. “He’s very much in that physical mould to what we’ve seen to what Dundeels do well at the track with the likes of Super Seth and Castelvecchio,” Harron said. “He’s a very athletic type of horse, medium sized, has a lovely depth of girth and a wonderful walking action with really good purpose. He’ll be staying in Melbourne, he’ll be going to Anthony Freedman. We’ll get him broken in and he’s not a horse we’re going to push too early. He should be a lovely backend two-year-old or three-year-old type for us.”
Breeding: Territories – Kaniana (Canny Lad) filly
Buyer: Star Thoroughbreds / Randwick Bloodstock
Vendor: Millford Thoroughbreds
Denise Martin of Star Thoroughbreds chimed in late in the session, making her only purchase for the day on a Territories (Invincible Spirit) filly out of Group 3 winning mare Kaniana (Canny Lad) for $350,000 in conjunction with Randwick Bloodstock. “I thought she was the most beautiful filly on the ground,” Martin said. “She had tremendous presence and was a real showstopper, I loved her. She’s got all the credentials of a high–quality filly. She’s very athletic and I thought she was quite special. I don’t normally pay that sort of money for a yearling but I didn’t want to lose her and so I just went to the maximum stretch to make sure I got her.”
Breeding: Frankel – Azardi (Desert Prince) filly
Buyer: 3 Point Bloodstock
Vendor: Esker Lodge Australia
Liam Howley, the former private trainer for prominent Melbourne owner Lloyd Williams from his Macedon Lodge base during an eight-year association, made his first statement about his intentions to open a public stable after landing a Frankel (Galileo) filly for $300,000 yesterday. “She was bought for a new client and we will take our time with her. She will take a bit of time, but there was a good result for the stallion (with Hungry Heart on Saturday),” Howley said. “The plan is to go out on my own at some point in the next little bit of time, so I will put plans in motion in the next few months.” Where that base will, Howley was non-committal, other than to say that it would be in Victoria.