What Is The Price Of A Good Horse?

The Australian bloodstock industry is a more commercial one than its counterparts in Europe and America, in the sense that a greater percentage of the better-performed horses in a given crop are put on the market. This is backed by figures produced by Aushorse earlier this year that showed that 67% of Group 1 winners in Australia in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were offered at public auction before their Group 1 win; that percentage was 61% in the U.S. and 46% in Europe.

A large percentage of the fields for some of Australia’s most important races have passed through a sales ring (for instance, 17 of the 20 runners in this year’s G1 Golden Slipper had gone under the hammer), and that gives us an opportunity to look at what segment of the market these top horses are coming from.

The Golden Slipper winner, Estijaab (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}, out of the dual Group 1 winner Response {Aus}, by Charge Forward {Aus}) cost Emirates Park Stud A$1.7-million at Easter last year, and was the second-most expensive filly and fourth most expensive yearling sold at the sale. Naturally, she leads last year’s Easter graduates by earnings and is the lone Group 1 graduate of that Easter crop at this very early stage (just three Group 1s for juveniles have been staged thus far this season). Last year’s Slipper winner, She Will Reign (Aus) (also out of a mare by the Red Ransom stallion Charge Forward), had cost just A$20,000 at Inglis’s Classic sale the year prior, thus giving proof to the theory that top-class winners emanate from all levels of the market.

The only other stakes winner so far from last year’s Easter sale also comes from the lower market: China Horse Club’s Irish Bet (Aus) (Smart Missile {Aus}), winner of the Listed Restricted Inglis Nursery on debut in December. Mick Flanagan, who signed the sales ticket on Irish Bet, told the TDN after that win, “Irish Bet was a cheap, good-looking horse and the other cheap one I bought at that sale a few years ago was Vanbrugh [cost A$100,000 and won the G1 Spring Champion S.].”

China Horse Club has spent aggressively on colts at this sale in recent years, and its efforts were rewarded this season with dual Group 1 winner Russian Revolution (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), a A$320,000 purchase, retiring to Newgate Farm as one of the more popular new sires for 2018.

Irish Bet wasn’t a rare buy at the middle to lower end of the market. Flanagan said, “We bought a couple of those cheaper ones last year in New Zealand and Australia. He wasn’t the only one, and we’ve done that in America and Europe a bit as well. We bought eight or nine yearlings in Europe and they didn’t really go more than 300,000, and there were a few in there for less than 100,000 as well.”

Last year’s Easter sale has yielded three stakes-placed horses: the A$100,000 Cristal Eyes (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}), bought by Echo Beach Bloodstock and in training at Lindsay Park; Canyonero (Aus) (Pierro {Aus}), a A$130,000 purchase by trainer Mark Newnham; and the Team Hawkes-trained Wild Planet (Aus) (Animal Kingdom {Aus}), a A$280,000 buy. Three of those five black-type 2-year-olds, including Estijaab, were offered by Arrowfield Stud.

Last year’s A$2.5-million top lot, Melik (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), is in training with Peter and Paul Snowden for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and was third in a trial on Feb. 12. Meticulous (Aus), the A$2.4-million son of Medaglia d’Oro split between the likes of Coolmore, Nordic Racing and Breeding, Stonestreet and Aquis, is in the same stable but is yet to trial. The A$1.8-million filly Al Naifa (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) won at second asking on Jan. 21 also in the colours of Sheikh Khalifa for trainer Tony McEvoy.

Looking at the 2016 Easter sale results naturally allows for a clearer picture, and that sale is thus far performing admirably in comparison to 2015, with so far 17 group-winning graduates (equal to 2015) and seven Group 1 winners (one more than 2015). With the exception of the Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), who was passed in at A$250,000, Coolmore Stud offered the two least expensive of those Group 1 winners: Eclipse Thoroughbreds’s VRC Oaks winner Pinot (Aus) (Pierro {Aus}) (A$200,000) and the Blue Diamond winner Catchy (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) (A$220,000). Three of those seven Group 1 winners are by Fastnet Rock and those also include the New Zealand Group 1 winner Age Of Fire (Aus) (A$400,000) and the G1 Coolmore Stud S. winner Merchant Navy (Aus) (A$350,000), who will eventually stand alongside his sire at Coolmore.

The priciest of those Group 1 winners was Shadwell’s South African Group 1 winner Mustaaqeem (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) at A$1.75-million, and he is the lone black-type winner thus far from the nine seven-figure yearlings sold at the sale. Summer Passage (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), another NZ Group 1 winner, cost A$800,000.

The remaining group-winning graduates of the 2016 Easter sale include one purchased for under A$100,000 and three apiece bought in the brackets of A$100,000 to A$250,000, A$251,000 to A$500,000 and a half-million to A$850,000.

Gai Waterhouse bought the two top-priced lots at Easter 2016. The A$2.3-million Boulder City (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), a half-brother to Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), is unraced and untrialed, while the A$1.8-million Regal Stage (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), a full-brother to champion sprinter Lankan Rupee (Aus), has trialed once, a third in November. Five of the nine millionaires from the sale are winners and one of those, the listed-placed Siege Of Quebec (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), topped Thursday night’s Chairman’s Sale – Racing Prospects at A$1-million, with Aquis Farm buying into him with trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

Q: Where do go horses come from? A: Everywhere. All the more reason for buyers to do their homework across the board this week at Easter.