It is as if nothing had ever changed.
As day one of the famous Australian Easter Sale ended, yet another day of massive selling by a Danzig line stallion dominated the headlines. And Reg Inglis was laughing and smiling as if being tickled.
This time though it wasn't old Danehill doing the headline-making. It was his astonishing son, Redoute's Choice, who landed the day's top-priced yearling at Aus$1.8 million (U.S.$1.45 million) when his fantastically put together son from the unraced Marauding mare Saucy Nell stunned everyone.
Two camps, one headed by John Messara, who stands Redoute's Choice (Danehill-Shantha's Choice), and the other with Tim Stakemire spending Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's money, slugged it out. Messara's Arrowfield Stud wanted this colt presented by Newhaven Park Stud, an Inglis vendor since 1945. And so did the Sheikh whose empire of horses in Australia grows exponentially every year and has done so since he started buying here four years back. It numbers about 32 now.
On this occasion, one more was added as Stakemire won the battle when Messara folded his hand at $1.7 million. The result made many a keen onlooker simply scratch his head. The pedigree page wasn't at all strong. In fact in the catalogue of 598, it was probably about the 200th best, yet the interest was staggering.
"In all my years coming to the sales to sell horses, I have never seen a horse pulled out of his box and inspected as much as this colt," claimed Newhaven's media man, John Holloway.
John Kelly, whose family owns Newhaven Park, was shaken with the result.
"Fantastic. What else can I say? It was way, way more than we expected," he said. "I know that Redoute's has done everything possible that a stallion can do in just two years at stud, but this is our best ever result and is unbelievable."
Their previous best was 16 years ago when a Bletchingly filly fetched Aus$1.1 million,
This colt was a specimen though. He looked like your typical superstar-in-the-making Danzig line sprinter.
Desperate to nab a stallion prospect for his burgeoning empire in Australia, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa seemed intent on keeping the bids rolling in.
"He was the best colt at the sale and should be an early comer too," noted Stakemire.
The final bid received an ovation from the large crowd who, still stunned by the lack of quality on the pedigree page, all but fell over en masse two hours later when the second-highest-priced lot of the day was sold.
It was a colt by Royal Academy
from the Bletchingly mare Sydney's Dream, and was presented by leading boutique farm Tyreel Stud. He fetched Aus$1.2 million....yes, Aus$1.2 million, the highest price paid at public auction anywhere in the world for a yearling by Royal Academy. And although the son of Nijinsky has a staggering 102 stakes winners globally to boast about, he has never warranted this sort of attention.
But Sydney's Dream was a group I winner and her son Charge Forward (by Red Ransom
) was recently bought for several million by Arrowfield Stud to stand there this season. He is currently three years of age and the winner of Aus$997,000 from his multiple group II wins and close second place in the 2004 group I Golden Slipper Stakes. There are enormous amounts of Aussie speed throughout this family, but Aus$1.2 million is magnificent. Still, on type, he was breathtaking.
"And so am I after that," declared the colt's seller, Dean Fleming. "I don't know what I've done, but I seem to be so lucky at this game. I thought maybe, just maybe I'd get Aus$400,000 for him, but this, well, I'm pretty happy right now."
Fleming bought Sydney's Dream just 20 months ago before Charge Forward became prominent, and sent her to Royal Academy, "because I thought the Nijinsky influence would work with this mare."
Damon Gabbedy of Belmont Bloodstock, buying for an unknown owner, purchased the colt, who, if he can run, does have a potential star sire's pedigree.
Redoute's Choice came in third on the list with a Aus$950,000 colt from the mare Perfect Draw knocked down to stallion-making trainer Paul Perry. It was Perry who put the polish on Choisir (now at stud after being bought for Aus$19 million by Coolmore); Fastnet Rock (a multiple group I-winning 3-year-old worth Aus$15 million and owned by Coolmore) and 2-year-old star Stratum, the 2005 Golden Slipper winner now worth Aus$8 million as a stallion prospect.
Darley, not to be outdone, paid Aus$875,000 for a son of Redoute's Choice from the mare My Fabulous Star in the hope, like Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, of buying a baby stallion.Fusaichi Pegasus
had a mixed sale but his son, a half to the former superstar Exceed And Excel, fetched Aus$800,000.
At the close of play on day one, the sale's aggregate was Aus$36,448,000, and the average was Aus$210,682. Redoute's Choice was batting an average of Aus$537,667 from his 15 offerings while Royal Academy, from his six to sell was averaging Aus$300,000 off a service fee of just Aus $20,000.
Day two on Wednesday is the traditional night session and all eyes will be on the 3/4-brother (by Redoute's Choice) to the world's best staying mare Makybe Diva, winner of Aus$9 million in stakes and two Melbourne Cups (Aus-I). And the top sprinter Silent Witness will have a half-sister by Encosta de Lago sell, too.