Twenty-eight colts and geldings were guided through public breezes at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday in preparation for the 2003 Hong Kong International Sale. Drawing plenty of attention for the sale, which will take place Friday, Dec. 12, were three sons of international leading sire Danehill.
This year's sales consignment includes 25 2-year-olds and a trio of 3-year-olds, previously purchased by the Hong Kong Jockey Club at sales in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
All of the horses consigned for this year's Hong Kong International Sale were obtained at one of the following yearling vendues--Magic Millions, New Zealand Bloodstock Premier, Keeneland September, Goffs Orby, Tattersalls October, Fasig-Tipton July. and William Inglis's Easter.
Of particular interest to many observers was Hip No. 28, a bay colt by Danehill out of the Secretariat mare, Secret Truth. Secret Truth is a half-sister to the grade III winner Housebound; group III winner Shell Ginger; and stakes winner Yeoman's Point, and has produced the grade II-winning Pleasant Secret.
Also attracting attention were two other 2-year-old sons of Danehill: Hip No. 17, a bay gelding out of the Irish River mare Spell on You; and Hip No. 12, a bay gelding out of the Last Tycoon mare Tamarind Tree. Also garnering interest was a bay 2-year-old gelding by Grand Lodge out of Great Vintage, a group II-winning daughter of Sir Tristam, and Hip No. 9, a bay 2-year-old gelding by Night Shift, out of the Doyoun mare Ajnas.
Last year, one of Danehill's sons brought a final bid of HK$4.7-million. In 2001, another son of Danehill fetched HK$4.5-million. All told, 14 sons of Danehill have brought seven-figure prices at the sale during the past two years.
The record price for the sale is HK$4.8-million, paid last year for a Desert King colt out of the multiple stakes-winning mare, Very Droll. Desert King, a four-time champion in Europe, is a son of Danehill.
Horses selected for the Hong Kong International Sale go through a rigorous inspection process, which includes three separate and thorough examinations by veterinarians, drug testing and three sets of X-rays. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the HKJC's executive director of racing, believes the sale's qualifying standards are not surpassed anywhere.
"What counts here is quality, not quantity," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "Our auction process is exceptionally fair for owners, especially new ones. The price of a horse is not negotiated in secrecy; it is established at a public forum, with competitive bidding. And our horses don't come from just one place. They've been carefully selected from three continents."
A bonus of HK$1-million will be awarded to the owner of the 2003 Hong Kong International Sale graduate who accumulates the highest cumulative earnings at the close of the 2004-2005 racing season in Hong Kong. Purses earned in Hong Kong and abroad will be included. But to remain eligible, a horse must be based full-time in Hong Kong from December, 2003, until June, 2004.
For the first time, the sale will be handled by Magic Millions Sales, an equine auction house based in Australia. Previous sales were handled by the Keeneland Association.
"We're honored we were selected to do this," said David Chester, managing director of Magic Millions. "Ours a relatively young company, founded in 1986, and there are auction houses all over the world that would love to have this opportunity. Beyond Australia, we have already handled sales in Singapore and Malaysia."
"The quality involved in this sale is consistently improving," said Ronald Arculli, chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. "Observing this year's consignment, I rate it a shade better than last year's, which was the best we ever had up to that time. The response we had from the people who attended the breeze-ups on Sunday was enthusiastic. They knew they had seen some stars in the making."