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Listons enjoy $1.4 million milestone moment with Zenaida

Dam of Sunshine In Paris tops day two at Magic Millions as Yulong continues investment

Toby Liston has sold million-dollar horses before, but yesterday’s session-topping $1.4 million achievement for his family’s Three Bridges Thoroughbreds operation represented a new milestone.

The Victoria-based stud sold Zenaida (Zabeel) – the dam of Surround Stakes (Gr 1,1400m) winner Sunshine In Paris (Invader), who made $3.9 million on day one of the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale – for the seven-figure sum to Yulong early on day two.

The tenth million-dollar mare sold – nine were sold on Tuesday, headed by three-time Group 1 winner Forbidden Love (All Too Hard) at $4.1 million – continued Zhang Yuesheng’s spending spree and his unquenching appetite for breeding stock for his Yulong operation.

Two further million-dollar mares were also sold at the Gold Coast yesterday as the market levelled out following a bumper opening race fillies and mares catalogue on Tuesday. 

“It’s very exciting and it’s a big deal for our family and our farm. We haven’t sold a horse (of our own) for $1 million before, so it’s great,” Liston said.

“We’ve done it for other people, it’s easy to sell somebody else’s horse, but it’s hard to sell your own.

“We have to trade, we have to sell these horses, so it’s great that a good Victorian (farm) bought her and we can’t wait to see her foal.”

Liston added: “It’s a lot of money, I was hoping for $1 million. It was just great to get a fantastic result.”

Sunshine In Paris’s dam Zenaida was bought by agent Paul Willetts on behalf of Three Bridges Thoroughbreds for $240,000 two years ago at the Gold Coast sale when in foal to Aquis Farm’s first season sire Dubious (Not A Single Doubt) and the emergence of the Annabel Neasham-trained filly provided a trading opportunity impossible to ignore.

An unraced half-sister to the Group 2-winning, Sydney Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) runner-up Hear That Bell (Ring The Bell), Zenaida has also produced Group 3 winner Macroura (Snitzel) and the winning Noble Exception (Exceed And Excel).

She is in foal to Arrowfield’s Japanese shuttler Maurice (Screen Hero).

Liston credited the relationship with Kiwi agent Willetts, which was established in 2015, as a turning point for the Three Bridges Thoroughbreds business.

“We are good at raising horses and we thought we were good at buying them and we reflected on ourselves and said we had to get better,” Liston revealed.

“Ever since he has helped us out, we bought (South Australian Derby winner) Leicester as a weaner for $10,000 and he’s been wonderful with our broodmare selections, he’s a great friend and Zenaida is testament to that.

“The first year (we called on Willetts’ advice) we bought a mare for $140,000 with a foal at foot and we sold it for $750,000 and that changed our trajectory.” 

Yulong’s chief operating officer Sam Fairgray confirmed Zhang “was there” on Sunshine In Paris, but stopped short of the $3.9 million price eventually paid by agent James Harron, and what underbidder Coolmore were prepared to pay.

However, Fairgray was happy that Yulong now owned the rising four-year-old’s mother, who will visit CF Orr Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winner Alabama Express (Redoute’s Choice) this coming season.

“She’s a mare that, going forward, the pedigree is going to improve and improve,” Fairgray said.

“She’s got the two stakes-winning daughters already and it’s likely we’ll keep the fillies out of her and keep building the family.”

Zenaida’s Dubious colt, whose sire has relocated to Kitchwin Hills in the Hunter Valley for the upcoming breeding season, will be offered as Lot 1423 through the Lime Country Thoroughbreds draft at next week’s National Yearling Sale.

He was purchased as a weanling through last year’s Great Southern Sale by agent James Bester for $145,000 from Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, the farm also consigning Zenaida through their own draft on the Gold Coast. 

Late in the session, Zhang won an extended bidding duel for Great Vibes (Showcasing), a European-bred-and-raced juvenile winner who was sold in foal to Juddmonte’s champion sire Frankel (Galileo).

Zenaida’s daughter Macroura, who is in foal to the pensioned Deep Field (Northern Meteor), will be offered as Lot 991 through the Vinery Stud draft at about 11am today.

Yulong had to go to $1.375 million to buy five-year-old mare Great Vibes, a daughter of stakes winner and top producer Whazzat (Daylami). She spent almost eight minutes in the ring as the bidding stopped to a crawl, going up in $25,000 increments.

The sale of Great Vibes was not only a solid result for vendor Arrowfield Stud, but also the telecommunications companies.

Zhang had left the Magic Millions complex and was bidding online, while his undisclosed ringside adversary was bidding through Barry Bowditch over the phone.

As the bidding progressed, Fairgray left his chair on one side of the Gold Coast ring to station himself next to Bowditch, who was sitting in the stand, in an attempt to ascertain who Zhang was bidding against.

With his phone to his ear, Fairgray was relaying back to his offsite colleagues about what was occurring as he and Bowditch looked at each other, before the latter hung up and walked off, and the green screen signalled the mare was Yulong’s.

Aside from the rather amusing auction antics, Fairgray said Zhang was consumed by the industry and that he would be delighted Great Vibes would join the Victorian stud’s broodmare band.

“He loves being here and going and looking at the horses and so forth,” Fairgray said of his boss’s massive investment.

“He’s got a good eye for a really nice type, he loves learning about the pedigrees and what’s worked and why people are buying them. He’ll ask why a horse made so much or why did that person buy it.

“His knowledge of the industry is amazing, worldwide that is. He follows it very closely and he knows what’s going on all around the world.”

Great Vibes is a half-sister to European Group 2 winner and now Rathberry Stud-based sire James Garfield (Exceed And Excel), who was also Group 1-placed in France, as well as the stakes-placed The Shrew (Dansili) and Morag McCullagh (Exceed And Excel).

Clarke scores Giza Goddess

Eight lots prior to Great Vibes’s time in the spotlight, agent Jim Clarke also ventured into seven-figure territory, acquiring the US juvenile-winning, Grade 3-placed Giza Goddess (Cairo Prince) in foal to I Am Invincible for $1.15 million.

Giza Goddess, who was a US$200,000 yearling from the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is a half-sister to the stakes-placed Vai Via (Liam’s Map), who was imported to Australia last year to be covered by Yarraman Park’s champion sire and reoffered through the Newgate Consignment.

The covering to Australia’s most commercial stallion – I Am Invincible’s yearlings averaged $682,307 this year – made Giza Goddess a desirable commercial opportunity for Clarke and his client but the agent also acknowledged the increasing influence in Australia of American mares and the striking grey fitted the criteria.

“We’ve seen yearlings out of these really sharp American mares sell really well the past few years, and not only sell well, but race really well,” Clarke said.

“We’ve got two young stallions in Wild Ruler and Russian Revolution out of American mares and they keep showing up and doing the job.

“[Her pedigree is] probably something a little bit different for our market, but given the record of those sorts of mares we thought it was worth going after her.”

Duais’s half-sister makes $825,000

Kia Ora Stud also got on the board yesterday, paying $825,000 for five-time winner Amiche (Nicconi), the half-sister to three-time Group 1 winner Duais (Shamus Award) and Group 3 scorer Baccarat Baby (Casino Prince).

The Yarraman Park-consigned Amiche, who is in foal to Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) on a maiden cover, was bought by Kestrel Thoroughbreds’ Bruce Slade for $380,000 from Telemon Thoroughbreds at last year’s sale.

“She’s a beautiful mare from a beautiful family, obviously a half to a Group 1 winner already with a very strong family underneath that and, I suppose, if you look at it, she’s in foal to Snitzel,” Kia Ora’s Shane Wright said.

“Snitzel had the Slipper winner (Shinzo) this year and although $825,000 is expensive, if you can get a nice Snitzel out, you’d be hoping you can nearly get it back.”

Kia Ora has on their stallion roster 2020 Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Farnan (Not A Single Doubt), Prague (Redoute’s Choice) and ATC Champagne Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Captivant (Capitalist), with Wright believing all three sires to be suitable matings for Amiche.

Cafe Royal to add depth to Musk Creek’s broodmare band 

Construction magnate David Kobritz has made a conscious effort to increase the quality of his boutique broodmare band at his Mornington Peninsula-based Musk Creek Farm and yesterday he paid $800,000 for the eight-time winner and stakes-placed Cafe Royal (Snitzel).

Cafe Royal is in foal to Capitalist (Written Tycoon), with the resultant foal bred on the same cross that has produced Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m) winner Profiteer and Cannonball, the Group 3-winning, The Galaxy (Gr 1, 1100m)-placed sprinter who will clash with Coolangatta (Written Tycoon) in next month’s King’s Stand Stakes (Gr 1, 5f) at Royal Ascot.

Kobritz’s agent Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock identified Cafe Royal, who is from the family of Redoute’s Choice (Danehill), Rubick (Encosta De Lago) and Al Maher (Danehill), as a potential candidate for Musk Creek based on the mare’s physique, having inspected her closely as a yearling.

“Musk Creek Farm is in the program of getting a small band of quality mares together and she was our target at the sale,” Rounsefell said.

“She is an in-foal mare on an early cover, she was a tough race mare, but a magnificent type from a really deep family that we can hang onto and hopefully get some fillies out of and develop.”

Such is the competition from the likes of Yulong, Coolmore and Kia Ora for the elite mares, Rounsefell said he and his clients targeted pregnant mares “and you have to get lucky, too”.

He said: “You hope you don’t get the big boys pushing you out of the way. Fortunately the chips fell our way.”

Fernrigg on the board

Another small stud, Padraig and Rae-Louise Kelly’s Fernrigg Farm, were also active yesterday, adding two mares, including East Asia (Swiss Ace), to their Hunter Valley broodmare band. 

The maiden pregnancy to Exceed And Excel (Danehill) was of significant appeal to the Kellys, who purchased the stakes-winning daughter of Swiss Ace (Secret Savings) for $540,000.

Fernrigg sold a colt by Darley’s champion sire at the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $1.2 million and the horse, Mach Ten, was runner-up in the ATC Breeders’ Plate (Gr 3, 1000m) at his first start for trainer Michael Freedman.

“We love the stallion, we’ve always supported him and we did have one of our greatest sale results last year here at the Magic Millions in January where we sold an Exceed colt for $1.2 million,” Padraig Kelly said.

“That was a little bit in the back of our heads. We pushed the boat out a little bit on our budget, but fingers crossed she throws a nice foal.”

East Asia is a half-sister to Australian and Hong Kong Group 3 winner Mulanchi (Ho Ho Khan (HK)) (Makfi) and she is out of China Choice (Encosta De Lago), herself a half-sister to Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Royal Descent (Redoute’s Choice).

Kelly said: “We’ve a nice, young broodmare band and we’re always looking to improve it and get nice racehorses out there. I think the last few years a lot of the trainers and bloodstock agents have realised that Fernrigg are actually producing nice very good horses off the farm with very good racetrack success.”

Moore supporting Stronger with speed mares

George Moore may have been out of his comfort zone at the Gold Coast yesterday, but the Hong Kong-based agent had good reason: to source mares for Aquis Farm’s first season Group 1-winning sire Stronger (Not A Single Doubt).

Acting on behalf of Edwin Cheung, who raced Stronger in Hong Kong and retains a 40 per cent share in the stallion, Moore purchased three mares yesterday for a total of $765,000 to head to the Centenary Sprint Cup (Gr 1, 1200m) winner later this year.

The most expensive of the trio was the Newgate Consignment’s US stakes winner Excessivespending (Shackleford), who fetched $470,000 in foal to first season Golden Slipper-winning sire Stay Inside (Extreme Choice).

Moore also went to $230,000 for Collier Bay (Capitalist), who is in foal to Wild Ruler (Snitzel), and $65,000 for Wild Spree (Super One), who is in foal to another Newgate Farm first season sire in Tiger Of Malay (Extreme Choice).

“We are trying to buy quality speed-on-speed mares for Stronger and help promote the stallion a bit here and I think the $470,000 American mare will give him every chance,” Moore told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday.

“The American mare was probably the standout for me, for what I wanted. She’s the perfect size, about 16hh, had good strength, early speed being a Listed winner over five and a half furlongs.”

Moore said this week’s National Sale was just the second time he had participated in a mares’ sale. 

“We’ve bought mares in the past, but I haven’t actually been at the mares sale to inspect the horses before. It’s very different. It’s very commercial in the sense that there’s a lot of breeders here, you don’t see a lot of trainers,” Moore said.

“Everyone’s quite astute and everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s a little different to me because it’s more focusing on pedigree analysis rather than on type. 

At a yearling sale, I would go and look at all the colts and then look at their pedigrees.

“Here is the opposite, I studied their pedigrees, looked at what their best crosses were and culled my list from there.”

Stronger, a $1.05 million Inglis Easter purchase by James Harron, won the Ken Russell Memorial (Gr 3, 1200m) as a two-year-old before being exported to Hong Kong where his crowning Group 1-winning moment occurred in January 2022 for trainer Douglas Whyte.

He will stand for an introductory fee of $13,750 (inc GST).

At the close of trade on the second day of the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, the auction house reported that 329 mares had sold at a clearance rate of 76 per cent, slightly down on the figure recorded 12 months ago when 357 mares exchanged hands at a clearance rate of 85 per cent. 

At $76,772,500, the aggregate spend is down 2.2 per cent on the corresponding stage of the 2022 edition. However, the average lifted by almost six per cent to $233,351, having finished day two 12 months ago at $219,696. The median dipped slightly, sitting at $110,000 at the conclusion of the action yesterday. 

Magic Millions’ Barry Bowditch was happy with how yesterday’s trade played out, but he also believes the in-foal market saw buyers treading warily given the uncertainty ahead of next year’s, and the year after’s, yearling sales.

“I think there’s still a huge thirst for quality lots. Horses at the middle-to-top end, in a large number of cases, were participated on with gusto,” Bowditch said. 

“There were many pleasing results today. In saying that, I think we’ve got a very motivated group of vendors out there who are looking to be very realistic. 

“There’s plenty of value to be found in the passed in lots, and in what we’ll be offering (today).”

The third and final session of the National Broodmare Sale starts at 10am local time. 


Sale statistics – days one and two

2023 2022 2021

Catalogued 480 490 498

Offered 391 419 411

Sold 329 (76%) 357 (85%) 357 (87%) Aggregate $76,772,500 (-2.2%) $78,431,500 $73,440,000    

Average $233,351 (5.9%) $219,696 $205,714  

Median $110,000 (9.09%) $120,000 $120,000   

Top Lot $4.1 million $4 million $2.6 million 

*excludes the 2021 Shadwell Australasia dispersal