Newmarket, Sydney, 7-9 April 2015

Kelsey Riley
The driving rain that forced the postponement of opening day of The Championships seemed a distant memory in Sydney Sunday as an international cross- section of buyers inspected the 605 yearlings on offer for the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale under bright and sunny skies.
— Kelsey Riley / TDN International Editor

Shoppers from all corners of the globe have descended on the Newmarket paddocks for the 2015 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, and Inglis Bloodstock director Jonathan D'Arcy said the crowds have been strong since showing began last Wednesday.

"All week we've had good numbers here," D'Arcy said. "Talking to the studs, their numbers of clients coming through have been on par, if not better than, the last couple years."

After a blockbuster renewal in 2013, which saw the average jump 32% to A$291,187 and the median climb 25% to A$200,000 for session one (the first two days of trade), last year's sale posted admirable results in its wake. The average was predictably down, by 13% to A$250,058; and the median dropped 5% to A$180,000, but those figures were the second-highest the sale has seen in the last five years, and the buyback rate of 15.2% was a five- year low.

The Easter Yearling Sale takes place on the back of a highly successful racing season for U.S. shuttle stallions - Vancouver (Medaglia d'Oro) and Pride of Dubai (Street Cry) won the country's two most important juvenile races, the G1 Golden Slipper and the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes, respectively.

"Medaglia d'Oro, especially with Vancouver, has really gone to the next level, so people are starting to pay attention to the quality of his stock," D'Arcy said. "We have some nice Street Cry's here, and he's also a horse that has some sire sons in the pipeline."

Coolmore recently bought into both Vancouver and Pride of Dubai, the former for what is suspected to be the highest price ever paid for a Golden Slipper winner.

"I think the deal that saw Vancouver sold for a reported $40 million has really invigorated some of the investors in our industry - it really starts to build interest in horses with stallions pedigrees," D'Arcy noted. "We have four or five sires that are stallion makers at the present time, with Redoute's Choice leading the pack with his sire sons being very competitive on our sire lists, and then you have horses like Fastnet Rock, Snitzel, Lonhro, and now we have Medaglia d'Oro and horses like that who have sons going to stud, and people are looking for the next one in the queue."

At the same time, D'Arcy said there are some high-quality fillies on offer. "I think we'll see some quite good sales of fillies here, not only by Fastnet Rock, but Redoute's Choice and Street Cry have some really nice fillies here," he said.

After spending A$1.2 million on the sale-topping Sepoy colt at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January, Spendthrift Farm unveiled major plans for continued investment in Australian bloodstock, and that operation's owner B. Wayne Hughes was inspecting yearlings yesterday alongside Ned Toffey and Gary Cuddy.

"We've come across plenty of horses we've seen that we've liked with plenty of pedigree and good looks," Toffey remarked. "We're very happy with what we've seen. This sale reminds me of Book 1 at Keeneland. There are some really big pedigrees and some really nice horses, then some horses that are here maybe more on pedigree than conformation, but still a very nice group overall."

Marie Yoshida, co-owner of Winchester Farm in Kentucky and also the operator of Asian Bloodstock Services, has been shopping at Easter for 24 years, and she remarked Sunday, "This is my number one most enjoyable sale in the world, but it's also the number one sale for the highest competition. You must have ammunition to shop here - it's not for budgets. If you want a good horse, you'll have plenty of competition from genuine buyers. The Australians are very strong with their syndicates, so it's tough to compete against them. And then we also have to compete a bit against the other Hong Kong buyers, and other international buyers."

Yoshida is shopping for horses for Hong Kong, and she has enjoyed success from the Easter Sales in the past, having purchased champion Fairy King Prawn (Danehill) in 1997. "This is a very genuine place, and the horses are very solid," she said. "In Hong Kong, we don't race on any medication, so the horses have to be sound and fast."

D'Arcy said for savvy buyers, there is value to be found in the A$80,000 to A$150,000 range.

"There's some really good buying to be had here," he noted. "That's an area we're trying to promote to trainers and to agents. Like any big catalogue - there's 600 horses in the sale - there's horses that will be overlooked because of the quality of the competition, but we're certainly hopeful of achieving a selling rate of around 80%."

John Messara's Arrowfield Stud has been selling at Easter for more than 30 years, and Messara said his operation will be offering one of its best-ever drafts this year. "It's a draft of 32 horses that's surprisingly even with some really high quality amongst it," he remarked. Of the shoppers out inspecting, Messara added, "It's been very steady - all the usual suspects are here. We haven't seen too many new faces, but we've been quite busy."

John Kelly of Newhaven Park, which offers 20 yearlings, shared similar sentiments. "The crowds out inspecting are on par with other years," he said. "All the right people seem to be here from overseas, which is important for this sale."