By Ric Chapman
The second and final day of the select part of Melbourne's Inglis premier yearling sale told us all one thing: Encosta de Lago is something very rare and special.
We guessed that when he topped day one with his $320,000 (U.S.$250,440) colt. By the end of day two he had managed to produce 10 different lots that fetched $100,000 (U.S.$78,244) or more and he provided the overall quinella when champion trainer Bart Cummings (who bought yesterday's $320,000 colt) again grabbed another -- this time the muscular bay colt from the Geiger Counter mare Goldberg.
"What can I say," asked Blue Gum Farm's studmaster Philip Campbell. "I mean, this crop came from when he stood for just $12,500 (U.S.$9,782). Can you imagine what else his progeny will do down the track now that he has served huge books of quality mares?"
Campbell has enthusiasm that should be bottled and it has much going for it. Mainly because Encosta de Lago (Fairy King -- Shoal Creek) an Australian group I winner, has been very successful at stud. He has averaged 155 mares for all of his seven seasons and has sired four crops of racing age for three group I winners and a further 10 stakes winners. He is owned by a smallish syndicate, some of whom are major Coolmore men.
Right now, Encosta de Lago has for the past three years served the biggest book in Australia....more than Fusaichi Pegasus, Danehill, Giant's Causeway, and Lion Hunter.
"He got over 205 last year and the thing people don't realize," said Campbell, "is that he managed to get 91% of them in foal. He is an iron horse and no other stallion standing in the southern hemisphere can boast his numbers. His fee will definitely be going up again this year but to how much, well that's up to the syndicate to decide."
And as to where he'll stand during the Australian off-season too. Much speculation exists around a possible reverse shuttling to Ashford Stud in Kentucky. "There is all sorts of speculation about that and his price. I don't want him to go but time will tell. He is certainly world class enough."
The general feeling is his fee will rise this year to $50,000 (U.S.$39,200).
The only Danehill to be sold this year went for $200,000 (U.S.$156,200). He's a colt with a potential sire's pedigree as his half-brother was a stakes winner and his full-brother Brackenbury is a young sire who won at stakes level but is yet to prove himself in the barn. The colt's dam is Jullene, a solid stakes placed mare by local champ Sir Tristram.
One surprise packet of the sale was Lion Cavern (Mr. Prospector -- Secrettame) who sold extremely well. His top was a filly from the Tristino mare Infinite Charm which reached $150,000 (U.S.$117,190).
Infinite Charm, a fast group III winner of over $303,000, is even better known as the half-sister to Finneto, the dam of champion Australian galloper Fields Of Omagh.
It's the highest price paid in the southern hemisphere for a Lion Cavern who celebrated his very first winner in this part of the world from just his second starter about an hour after the sale. His popularity has prompted Darley to rethink its decision not to send him here. He stood three years at Lynden Park Stud in Victoria but missed last season.
The momentum from day one of the premier yearling sale continued despite a large number of pass-ins, with a further 183 yearlings selling for an overall average price of $48,712 (U.S.$38,112) and gross sales totalling $18,267,000 (U.S.$14,296,200) at the conclusion of the sale. This represents a 19% increase in the average from last year's $40,972 (U.S.$31,117) and a 30% increase in the aggregate figure from $14,135,500 (U.S.$11,062,200) in 2003.