Thoroughbred Daily News
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Lane's End - Versailles, KY | 2014 | Entered Stud 2019 | 2019 Fee $35,000

‘Stars’ Come Out For HK International Sale

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Sales-topping lot 17 | HKJC photo

By Alan Carasso

A well-made Australian-bred gelding by Starcraft (NZ), the sire of Sunday’s Hong Kong Derby contender Blizzard (Aus), was hammered down to Hong Kong businessman Yu Wen Liu for HK$8.5 million (£767,148/€982,659/
A$1,441,435/US$1,103,896) to top the annual Hong Kong International Sale conducted in the state-of-the-art parade ring at Sha Tin Racecourse. The top price fell just a few bids shy of the sales record HK$9 million achieved in 2012.

Bred by P. J. Favretto, also the breeder of the talented Hong Kong-based sprinter/miler Contentment (Aus) (Hussonet), lot 17 was purchased by representatives of the Hong Kong Jockey Club for A$360,000 at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in April 2014. The October foal is a son of Top Cuban (Aus) (Anabaa), making him a full-brother to G3 BTC Classic winner Havana (Aus), who was also precocious enough to finish runner-up to Criterion (NZ) (Sebring {Aus}) in the G2 Todman S. in 2013. Mr. Liu is the Executive Chairman, Compliance Officer and Chairman of Nomination Committee, Shanghai Jiaoda Withub Information Industrial Co. Ltd.

The HKJC had jumped into the fray just eight hips into the 2015 Easter sale, going to A$700,000 for an Arrowfield Stud-consigned son of their sire Manhattan Rain (Aus) from La Bamba (Aus) (Last Tycoon {Ire}). The colt’s pedigree had received a major update just weeks before when his half-brother Wandjina (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}) took out the G1 Australian Guineas. The lone 2-year-old offering at Friday’s HKIS and still an entire, lot 19 proved the evening’s second-dearest lot when knocked down to owner Boniface Ho Ka Kui–who has horses with trainers Caspar Fownes and John Size–for HK$7 million. In addition to Wandjina, the colt is a close relative of G1 Hong Kong Sprint upsetter Inspiration (Aus) (Flying Spur {Aus}) and to the dam of local Group 2 winner Admiration (Aus) (Encosta de Lago {Aus}).

Almost a year to the day that Got Fly (Fr) (Early March {GB}) was beaten 3/4 of a length into second in the Hong Kong Derby, that gelding’s owner Marces Lee Tze Bun was adding to his portfolio when signing for the night’s second offering, a gelding by Choisir (Aus), for HK$6.8 million. Lot 2, an A$220,000 acquisition from the 2014 Easter sale, is by the sire of 2015 Hong Kong Derby hero Luger (Aus) and was produced by a half-sister to G3 Millie Fox S. winner November Flight (Aus) (Flying Spur {Aus}), herself the dam of GSW & G1SP Ashokan (Aus) (More Than Ready). This is also the extended family of G1 Hong Kong Sprint winner Natural Blitz (Aus) (Maroof).

Each of the 24 lots, acquired at auction houses from around the world, was sold without reserve. The turnover for the sale was HK$100.5 million (£9,070,397/€11,618,497/US$13,051,948/A$17,208,904), while the average price of HK$4,185,500 (£377,933/€484,104/A$709,810/US$543,841) represented a 5.9% increase over 2015.

After being conducted in previous year during the morning hours of Saturday, officials at the Hong Kong Jockey Club took the decision to stage the HKIS on a Friday evening for the first time and by all accounts, the idea was well-received.

“In terms of the event tonight, this represents everything that the Hong Kong Jockey Club aspires to for its owners,” said Anthony Kelly, executive director of racing business and operations for the HKJC. “We want to give them an elegant experience and create an occasion that enhances their enjoyment of racehorse ownership. Ownership is a journey and this event tonight is the start of that journey. People have dreams, and the reason the Starcraft gelding sold for as much as it did tonight is because people want to follow that dream; the dream that their horse might be the next Able Friend, that’s what drives this sport, it drives the ownership experience. That is why this event was such a success tonight and it is something we will try to replicate next year.”

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