By Ric Chapman
The last Sunday Silence yearling to sell anywhere in the world was sold on day three of the Australian Easter yearling sale April 14. And, he is staying put, having been bought by a syndicate of Australians for $1.5 million (U.S. $1,132,350).
Secrecy shrouds the actual make up of the syndicate but it is believed the buyer, emerging superstar trainer Tim Martin, a client named Damien Flower, and Arrowfield Stud (the colt's breeder), will take up the majority share of the chestnut colt.
The colt is out of the Zilzal mare Bright Finish, herself a two-time winning, French stakes-placed mare. Bright Finish is a half-sister to grade I winner Alydeed.
"He just had a beautiful front on him and a massive backside," said Martin, who will jet off to England shortly and prepare Exceed And Excel for an assault on the Royal Ascot carnival. "We will never again be able to bid on anything by such an exciting stallion as Sunday Silence and all those things plus the fact this is a wonderful young horse, made me keep going."
Mark Pilkington, who buys for the Hayes clan, went to $1.2 million before dropping out of the bidding.
Martin has had a meteoric rise up the Thoroughbred notoriety ranks since bringing his training abilities to Sydney three years ago. He was a very successful bush trainer, his horses constantly winning many low-key $5,000 type races in New South Wales' outback. Believing in himself, he took a chance and applied for boxes at Rosehill Gardens and was granted a few. Rosehill is Sydney's second biggest track and home to the richest juvenile race in the world, the 1,200 meters Golden Slipper, this year worth $3 million.
Shortly after arriving at Rosehill, Martin linked up with prominent owner Nick Moraitas and the big spending owner allowed Martin to buy him some yearlings at this same sale two years ago. One of the buys that day was a Danehill--Patrona colt for $375,000 and he races now as Exceed And Excel--a two-time group I winning sprinter of $1.4 million in stakes. He was purchased last month by Darley for $22 million, but Martin will continue training him during his ambitious program in England which begins in May.
The second highest priced colt for the closing day of this year's extraordinary three-day sale was $1.3 million for a Redoute's Choice--Assertive Lass colt. He's a half-brother to the recently retired unbeaten dual group I winning sensation Reset, who was also recently bought by Darley to stand stud duties this year. Reset exchanged hands two weeks ago for $20 million. Gai Waterhouse will train this colt as she signed the ticket for him on behalf of a syndicate of stud masters.
Darley doesn't just buy champion racehorses as was shown on day three. It went to $800,000 for a strapping colt by Danehill from the group I winning mare Bonanova.
Demi O'Byrne who had been quiet the first two days, let loose with some solid bidding to snare what was many thought was perhaps the best put together horse at the sale.
"I loved him. That's it," declared O'Byrne who probably would not have stopped bidding in order to secure the Fusaichi Pegasus--Elizabeth Drake colt. "I think I got him quite cheap for the type he is. I don't think Australian buyers really go after stallions they didn't see race and that's why Fusaichi Pegasus is probably cheaper here than in other parts of the world. This colt was a great mover and I think worth every cent.
"He will stay in Australia to race but I haven't decided his trainer as yet," added the Irishman.
An interesting yearling that fetched $150,000 will be headed to California. Lindsay Williams was the successful buyer of the colt, by Saint Ballado out of the Valley Crossing mare Backcountry.
The Easter sale ended up in every category. It was by any standard the best on record with the average stopping at $205,100--a runaway record--and total receipts of $75,477,500.
"I thought we'd have a big sale but this is beyond anything I dreamed of," declared a humbled Reg Inglis, the managing director of Inglis & Son Sales.
"I am just about speechless."