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Street smart Yiu the Classic Boss 

Bhima Thoroughbreds’ $375,000 colt leads the way at Inglis Riverside

Champion Hong Kong trainer Ricky Yiu is not afraid to dive into the yearling market to replenish the stocks of his Sha Tin stable and that’s exactly what he did at the Inglis Classic sale yesterday.

Yiu bought a $375,000 Street Boss (Street Cry) colt, the most expensive yearling sold on day one at Riverside Stables, in a session in which Hong Kong-based buyers were prominent at the higher end of the market. 

The Yiu-purchased Bhima Thoroughbreds-sold colt, a half-brother to the Group 3-placed juvenile Rome (Pierro), was on the radar of domestic and overseas buyers but it was Hong Kong’s champion who had the biggest budget.

The fifth living foal out of juvenile winner Dance Card (Exceed And Excel) will head to Muskoka Farm to be educated.

“He is a very nice individual who looks like he could run from 1200 [metres] to a mile,” Yiu said.

“If he is mature enough he’ll come up to run in the Griffin races otherwise normally I leave them here and then bring them back up [as three-year-olds].” 

Bhima Thoroughbreds’ Mike Fleming said the sale price exceeded expectations.

“The reserve was quite a bit under the final price. I thought he was a $200,000 to $250,000 colt but obviously there was plenty of competition on him, as there has been on all the right horses today,’’ Fleming said.

“It’s always a great sale, Classic. You bring a nice horse here, they scope well, are clean, there’s always plenty of competition on them.”

Twelve of the 15 horses bought by Yiu over the past year in Australasia have been yearlings with the premier Hong Kong trainer of 2019-20 believing they provide his clients with greater value.

Already active at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale and now Classic – two sales Yiu and his Melbourne-based advisor Dean Hawkes supported in 2023 – the trainer bought three horses at last year’s Inglis Ready2Race sale but did not sign for anything at Magic Millions’ 2YOs In Training Sale nor the NZB Ready to Run Sale, the latter heavily supported by his Hong Kong peers.

Yiu bought two yearlings at last year’s Classic sale and another six out of the Inglis Melbourne Premier sale. 

He reasoned: “I have always believed that yearlings are value for money relative to trial winners. I have had many yearlings do well.

“I also have more control before they go to Hong Kong, for sure.” 

The reliance on Hong Kong-based buyers, a segment of the international buying bench which is crucial at the two-year-old sales, also proved important as investors with links to the Asian racing powerhouse were involved in the top three-priced horses sold.

Magus Equine’s Willie Leung also made his mark on the opening day of the Sydney sale, going to $300,000 for a colt by Toronado (High Chaparral), the sire of this month’s Hong Kong Classic Mile (Listed, 1600m) winner Helios Express and recent Centenary Sprint Cup (Gr 1, 1200m) scorer Victor The Winner.

The Hong Kong agent’s client gave specific instructions to seek out a son of Toronado at the Classic sale deemed suitable to race in Hong Kong and it was the Lime Country Thoroughbreds-consigned yearling who fitted the bill.

Bred by Victoria-based Robert Salter and Kerrie Smith, but born and raised at Lime Country Thoroughbreds in the Hunter Valley, the colt is the fourth foal out of Eclat (Beneteau), making him a half-brother to four-time winner Niccolite (Nicconi).

“This was the perfect sale for him. I think it was a bang on maturity wise for him and he is a beautiful colt for Hong Kong and this is a great sale for Hong Kong buyers,” Lime Country’s Jo Griffin said. 

“The same breeders have got a really beautiful Toronado colt going to Easter as well.

“They only bred to Toronado in that year, so hopefully it pays off for them.”

Although the colt is almost certain to end up in Hong Kong, Leung did not rule out the horse racing in Sydney, at least initially, before heading to Asia on a private purchase permit.

“Toronado is a red-hot sire in Hong Kong. The Classic Mile winner’s by Toronado, the sprinter is by Toronado, so my client loves the sire and hope we can get a good one,” Leung said.

“I think he was the best mover I saw in this sale and I am sure he was the most popular yearling on the ground.” 

Continuing the theme of the Magic Millions and New Zealand Bloodstock sales, buyers wasted no time in signalling their intent early in the session as vendors also placed realistic reserves on their stock, leading to the first 17 lots through the ring sold under the hammer.

While the sale format is not likeforlike – the Highway Session has merged with the Book 1 sale – day one’s Classic market saw 197 horses traded at an average of $94,929, achieving turnover of $18.7 million. The clearance rate was 83 per cent. 

“If you told me that at the end of today we would have an average of $95,000 and a median of $80,000, I think we would all have been very pleased, the vendors would have been very pleased,” Inglis Bloodstock chief executive Sebastian Hutch said.

“I think there is a tremendous respect from the market for the sale and I said the same thing before the sale. I genuinely feel it’s a sale that every participant looks to engage with, whether they buy or not is another matter, but everybody was here.

“Through inspections we had major representatives from every facet of the market and I think that creates competition and confidence. There are plenty of people who bought horses at prices they consider value, but I also think it was a fair market for buyers and sellers.”

Price is right for $320,000 Extreme Choice colt

Earlier, trainer Mick Price had endorsed China Horse Club’s breeding farm, The Chase, which is located on the alluvial soils of the NSW Southern Highlands.

The Group 1-winning horseman voiced his approval of The Chase, which is in the same region south of Sydney as fellow stud farms B2B Thoroughbreds, Milburn Creek and Silverdale Farm, after paying $320,000 for a colt by Extreme Choice (Not A Single Doubt).  

Price combined with Upper Bloodstock’s Ross Lao and Andy Lau to buy the November 22-born China Horse Club-bred half-brother to speed machine Dance To Dubai (Pride Of Dubai). China Horse Club will also retain ten per cent in the colt.

“I loved this horse and I obviously trained Extreme Choice. I also have faith in The Chase. I think they’re a farm that is building,” Price said.

“I know where it is in the Southern Highlands and it’s magnificent, so I think they’ll breed good horses out of there. They have fantastic pedigrees and the mare’s been a bit unlucky. [Peter] Moody’s horse Dance To Dubai was a flying machine.

“He moves well and will furnish, being a 22nd of November foal. Sometimes we can be wrong, but I might even be a little bit brave and keep a share in him myself.”

He is the seventh foal out of Brisk (Nayef). Her sixth, a two-year-old filly by Russian Revolution (Snitzel) called Privalova, is in training at Cranbourne with Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young. 

“It was a fantastic result and great to see him go to such a good home in Mick Price, who obviously knows the stallion so well. For him to end up in his stable, for us, is huge,” China Horse Club’s Michael Smith said.

“This is our first year selling at Classic under our own name and to start it off like that, it couldn’t be any better.”

He added: “We try to be very transparent sellers and get the horses on the market and I think the buying bench has responded to that, they know they can come and buy our best stock off us and we were happy to offer a colt of his quality here at Inglis.”

Price and Michael Kent Jnr have trained four individual winners by Extreme Choice, the best being the Rosemont Stud-based sire Extreme Warrior, the electric Blue Sapphire Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) winner of 2021.

Price has a growing reputation of training stallion prospects with Flying Artie (Artie Schiller), Tarzino (Tavistock), Grunt (O’Reilly) among those on the honour roll.

“I like following them and using my nomination, although he hasn’t been very kind to me, that stallion [Extreme Choice], with my nomination because he’s a bit fussy about which girls he likes and that’s fair enough.

“But I remember so well, the horse, and his bullet speed and athleticism. The one I bought is a bigger version of Extreme Choice. Your brain only goes one way sometimes, and I tried to contain my excitement when he came out of the box, but I absolutely loved that horse.”

All aboard the Alabama Express

Paul Moroney expects it to be full steam ahead for Alabama Express (Redoute’s Choice), but he doesn’t foresee his $240,000 son of the CF Orr Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winner will be hitting the track any time early in the new season.

While Yulong’s Alabama Express has made a flying start to his stud career – he is the sire of five first crop winners including leading Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) contender Shangri La Express – agent Moroney believes his acquisition is likely to develop into a Classic style horse rather than be a precocious two-year-old.

“He is a big strapping horse and probably more in the shape of his dam sire Nathaniel and Galileo,” said Moroney, who bought the Vinery Stud-consigned colt with Catheryne Bruggeman and Ballymore Stables. 

“I’ve had a lot to do with this colt all the way through because not only did I buy Alabama Express, I bought the dam in England and I had to do a lot to do with the mating of this colt.  

“He is from a German staying family and, despite Alabama Express having got up-and-running two-year-olds at the moment, we haven’t bought a get-up-and-run two-year-old type, he’s definitely a lovely Derby type of horse and later he could be a cups horse.”

Rupert Legh, who raced Alabama Express with partners, bred the colt and it is almost certain he will retain a share in the youngster who is out of the unraced European mare Anyana (Nathaniel), herself a half-sister to stakes winner Amare (Hernando).

Rising sire Alabama Express, the current leading first season Australian sire by earnings and winners, was bought by Moroney and his trainer-brother Mike for $280,000 at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale before going on to win four of his eight starts including a career-defining 2020 CF Orr Stakes victory.

“We don’t come here looking for the real two-year-old type, we just come here looking for a really nice horse and after our first inspections I put him on my list, Catheryne had a look at him and she absolutely loved him,” Moroney said of Lot 81.

“We went and did our third and fourth inspections on him and he’s thrived since he’s been here. He came out very workmanlike, did his job every day, he’s got a big stayer’s action and the frame to fill out into.” 

Day two starts at 10am.

Sale statistics – day one

2024 2023  

Catalogued 270 280  

Offered 238 253  

Sold 197 (83%) 204 (81%)  

Aggregate $18,701,000 (-22%) $23,616,500    

Average $94,929 (-18%) $115,767    

Median $80,000 (-11%) $90,000    

Top  Lot $375,000 $550,000

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