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Phoenix fallout not expected to impact on Australian market

Sebastian Hutch believes the Australian market is robust enough to withstand the potential loss of a big-spending Phoenix Thoroughbreds at next year’s yearling sales in the wake of shock allegations the operation’s founder was involved in a money-laundering scheme.

Inglis’ general manager of bloodstock sales and marketing says the auction house was keeping a close eye on developments involving Phoenix’s Amer Abdulaziz Salman.

The high-profile thoroughbred owner was named in a US court earlier this month by a witness in a money-laundering trial relating to the global OneCoin cryptocurrency scam.

Among Phoenix’s Australian thoroughbred investments are Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible), herself a $500,000 Inglis Easter graduate who would hold a considerable seven-figure market value if she was to be put up for auction.

The syndicate also has another three-year-old daughter of I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit), the John Thompson-trained Best Stone, accepted for a maiden race at Canterbury tonight.

It was revealed earlier this week that the Phoenix company, which was registered in Luxembourg, had been placed in voluntary liquidation in October.

Hutch said while Inglis was monitoring the situation there was no indication to suggest that the Australian-based Phoenix-owned horses would be placed on the market.

“On the evidence of what has been circulated in the media it is a very complex issue,” Hutch said. 

“We are obviously staying abreast of developments in that regard, but there doesn’t appear to be any definitive statement on the position at this stage.

“It has been announced that a horse that Phoenix race in partnership, Sands Of Mali, will be offered at Tattersalls next week. 

“It was implied that it is a consequence of things that have happened over the past few days but we will see how things pan out and I’m sure there are more details to come out.”

At this year’s Inglis Easter sale, Phoenix Thoroughbreds signed for five yearlings outright for a spend of $1.88 million and another three in partnership for $1.36 million.

At the earlier Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Phoenix and partners combined to buy six lots for a total spend of $5 million including a Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) colt for $1.6 million, the second highest-priced lot of the January auction.

The Richard Fahey-trained British Champions Sprint Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) winner Sands Of Mali (Panis) will be offered on Monday at the Tattersalls Mares Sale on behalf of Phoenix Thoroughbreds and the horse’s co-owners, the Cool Silk Partnership as well as Peter Swann and his mother-in-law Barbara Wilkinson,

Swann denied the drama surrounding Phoenix was the reason Sands Of Mali was a sudden entry for the sale.

“I can’t say what was in the whole agreement as it’s confidential between partners but the idea was to run him this year under our joint colours and then send him to stud,” Swann told the Racing Post.

“From day one this is where he was going to end up, there’s nothing sinister, it’s not in reaction to the Phoenix news. We’re looking forward to him selling well on Monday night.”

Hutch said while an organisation such as Phoenix that has invested such significant sums of money in the Australian industry would be hard to replace, Inglis would be working hard to endeavour to have the strongest buying bench at its 2020 sales as possible.

“Phoenix has enjoyed some incredible success in a short space of time, whether it be in Europe with a horse like Advertise or Loving Gaby in Australia. They are very prominent silks around the world,” he said.

“In the case of Phoenix specifically, it is not something we can necessarily afford to be complacent about. We work 12 months of the year to cultivate interest in our sales and interest in our market and that is no different if a new player comes in or if other players drop out.

“We have got to be conscious of our existing customers being well serviced so they remain customers of the future.” 

He added: “Naturally, the more people that are involved in the market, the healthier the market is but it goes on irrespective of single entities.”

Another big-spending buyer, Damion Flower, is currently in custody facing charges relating to his alleged involvement in the large-scale cocaine importation ring. He is expected to enter a plea to five charges in January.

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