Studmasters may hold fire on significant service fee hikes
If they haven’t started already, it won’t be long until studmasters are deliberating and debating service fees for their respective stallion rosters.
Godolphin’s Anamoe (Street Boss) is poised to be the highest-profile first season sire to go to stud in 2023 and you’d expect Coolmore’s Home Affairs (I Am Invincible) ($110,000, all fees include GST), who retired last year, could be the yardstick for a potential introductory fee.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) winner State Of Rest (Starspangledbanner) will begin southern hemisphere duties at Newgate Farm later this year while Canterbury Stakes (Gr 1, 1300m) winner Artorius (Flying Artie) and Golden Rose (Gr 1, 1400m) winner In The Congo (Snitzel) are likely to join him on Henry Field’s stallion roster later this year.
Jacquinot (Rubick) could also join Widden in 2023, depending on whether connections choose to capitalise immediately on the three-year-old’s stud appeal or race him on at four, while Mo’unga (Savabeel) will take up residence at Newhaven Park.
Olly Tait last week confirmed Godolphin’s Blue Diamond winner Daumier (Epaulette) would join the ranks at Twin Hills Stud in southern NSW, while sprinter Best Of Bordeaux (Snitzel) is majority owned by Coolmore and is likely to be retired there this year.
For breeders, service fees are always too expensive while owners of stallions will argue that they have been acquired at great cost and that they need to see a return on their investment. The plateauing of the yearling market, coming off two years of extreme and unsustainable growth, may also cause some studmasters to hold fire on any significant service fee hikes.
Newgate managing director Field also has the service fee of reigning champion first season sire Russian Revolution (Snitzel) to consider before announcing the make-up and pricing of the roster, which is likely to be next month.
Standing at $55,000 in his first two years at stud before dropping to $44,000 in 2020 and 2021, the initial drop coinciding with the onset of Covid, Russian Revolution shot up to $71,500 last year on the back of his first season sires title.
Last Saturday, he brought up his maiden Group 1 victory as a sire when first crop three-year-old Communist took out the Randwick Guineas (1600m). He also has five other stakes winners including Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) fancy Red Resistance.
Despite the success of the progeny of Russian Revolution, Field stopped short of suggesting that the stallion could have another service fee increase for his sixth year at stud.
“Young stallions can’t do much better and he’s a mile clear on the second season sires premiership. He has sired a lot of classy horses in his first crop, so he’s doing a great job and it’s great to see his two-year-old crop, his second crop, come through and looking equally as good, if not better, with the likes of The Instructor and Red Resistance, etc,” Field said at the Premier sale.
“There’s a lot of things we need to discuss with the partners in the horse, but he’s entitled to have his fee go up, he’s going that well, but there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and when we set our fees around Easter.”
Yulong’s decision to offer yearlings at the Melbourne Premier sale out of high-class mares such as Unforgotten (Fastnet Rock) and Foxplay (Foxwedge) didn’t go unnoticed by the buying bench, with trainer Mike Moroney and agent Sheamus Mills both commenting on Yuesheng Zhang’s level of support for the Victorian industry after purchasing stock from the draft this week.
Zhang was almost unstoppable at last year’s broodmare sales, purchasing a whopping 63 at the Magic Millions National for $29.275 million and five at the preceding Inglis Chairman’s for $1.915 million.
The unprecedented spending provides somewhat of a conundrum for fellow commercial breeders who also desire high-class mares in their own broodmare bands but have been blown out of the water.
Now that Zhang has also re-entered the yearling market in 2023, there have been cases where fellow buyers have been scared off knowing that Yulong was on certain horses, so they have either stopped putting their own hand up or not bid at all in the belief that they wouldn’t have beaten the powerhouse owner and breeder in the sales ring.
Yulong’s chief operating officer Sam Fairgray said this week that Zhang’s broodmare band was about 600 and that there were plans to grow it to about 850 to support the resident stallions Written Tycoon, Alabama Express, Grunt, Tagaloa and shuttler Lucky Vega.
That number would mean Yulong would own about five per cent of the Australian foal crop.
Only two days ago, Zhang bought two mares for a combined $430,000 on Inglis Digital to add to his broodmare band.
Fairgray also reiterated Zhang’s commitment to the Premier sale.
He said: “For our brand, it was important to bring some really nice horses. The sales complex is on our doorstep and we’ll continue to support it with some really nice yearlings because of the results we’ve achieved here and they [Inglis] get a good buying bench here.”
Philip and Patti Campbell bowed out of the Victorian breeding industry, at least in a full-time capacity, at the Inglis Melbourne Premier sale after more than four decades and the plaudits for the former Blue Gum Farm owners were deservedly coming thick and fast.
Inglis’s Sebastian Hutch was among those to pay tribute to the Campbells.
“Philip Campbell is somewhat of an institution in the context of the Victorian breeding landscape. Fundamentally, he is a nice and decent man with what I think the casual or professional observer would consider to be outstanding principles about how he manages his stock,” Hutch said.
“For someone who works at Inglis, it has been really enjoyable, and admittedly it’s only been a short time for me, to deal with someone whose pride in developing and offering good horses was just his raison d’etre.
“That was just what he wanted to do; he wanted to be associated with breeding and selling good horses and he and Patti and all his team at the farm are exceptionally good at it.”
The Campbells sold Euroa-based Blue Gum, this year’s leading Premier vendor, to Trilogy’s Jason and Mel Stenning and Sean and Cathy Dingwall late last year.
“In some respects, it’s very sad that they depart Blue Gum but in other respects it’s provided us with an opportunity to pause and reflect on what they’ve achieved over an extended period of time on a spectacular farm,” Hutch said.
“I think that’s important that it gets acknowledged and I think his approach to running his business sets a very, very positive template not just for Jason and Mel Stenning and Sean and Cathy Dingwall, but a lot of breeders in Australia and beyond.”
Racing Victoria didn’t do Inglis any favours by holding a rare Sunday race meeting at Moonee Valley on day one of the Premier sale, pulling owners and trainers, the very market the sale needs, away from Victoria’s major yearling sale of the year.
We’re assured that it won’t happen again now that the RV newcomers, CEO Andrew Jones and executive general manager of racing Matt Welsh, have been made fully aware of the importance of the Premier sale to the industry.
Three years ago, on the eve of the Adelaide Yearling Sale and just as the reality of Covid was about to kick in, Magic Millions owner Gerry Harvey addressed buyers and vendors at a pre-sale function, telling them they’d be mad to buy horses and instead they should invest in Harvey Norman shares.
I wish I saw it first hand, it was one of the few sales I’ve missed in recent years, but the colour drained from the faces of the aghast Magic Millions staff listening to their boss’s diatribe.
Again, just a week or two out from the 2023 Adelaide sale, 83-year-old Harvey was at it again. This time, he suggests that Harvey Norman shares are grossly undervalued and that people should sell their assets and pour the money into the stock market, principally into the retail giant.
“My advice to you is sell your house, sell your boat, sell your car, put the lot into Harvey Norman [shares] and then ring me in three or four years, and you won’t need to be a journalist any more,” Harvey told the Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston.
Have any of the Magic Millions staff heeded his advice? I guess we’ll know or not if they’re at Morphettville for next Tuesday and Wednesday’s sale.
There’d only be few people who would be able to intimidate Racing NSW supremo Peter V’landys. Owner Jonathan Munz, a ruthless billionaire businessman and successful breeder, I’m tipping is one of them.
Munz owns last year’s Everest winner Giga Kick and, again in the AFR, he argued the strapper of the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained gelding was entitled to the two per cent of the $6.2 million first prize under the strappers bonus, which was first introduced in 2012.
Up until Munz, a man with the wealth and know-how to take on an organisation such as Racing NSW, got on the blower to PVL, the strappers’ purse was reserved for stablehands from NSW stables only.
PVL relented, as he did for the strapper of Victorian–trained Golden Rose winner Jacquinot, the AFR reported, and the precedent is now set.
Aston also wrote that PVL planned to now try and close Pandora’s box, but why? If the owners of the horses earn the prize-money, generated by punters betting on NSW racing, why shouldn’t that go to those who helped increase the turnover?
And it doesn’t just apply to the big races and the big owners and trainers. Wangaratta’s Craig Weeding, for example, won a race at Albury on February 25, as did Leon and Troy Corstens, so they should receive the two per cent reserved for their strappers who spent a long day in the truck taking horses to and from the races for which Racing NSW benefited.
Gold Coast-based John Wallace also won a race at Murwillumbah recently and his staff, too, could and should receive the strappers entitlement.
After all, PVL has set the precedent, thanks to Munz.