Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager John Ferguson and Bob Ingham locked horns Tuesday during the third session of the Inglis Easter national yearling sale in Australia, and the battle produced a stunner. Ferguson was the winner, landing a Redoute’s Choice colt for Aust$2.5 million (approximately $2.1 million in U.S. funds).
Consigned by Tyreel Stud in New South Wales, the colt was produced from the blue hen mare Snowdrift (by Polish Precedent).
"We thought maybe Aust $1.3 million would be a good price for him," said Paul Fleming, who last month took possession of the bloodstock of Tyreel. His brother Dean was given the stud farm when property and assets of their famous late father, Jim, were divided up. And both men popped the corks of Moet champagne after bidding stopped on this colt
Bob Ingham, who had shown his hand all sale by opening the bidding in the millions on many occasions, did just that with a gob-smacking Aust $1.6-million first bid. That grabbed the crowd's attention. When it was bettered, he went one more time but bowed out when that was beaten.
"I said to myself, ‘He can have it; I've got one of them at home already,’ " chuckled Ingham. His soon-to-be-announced champion, Portillo, is a half-sister to the colt. She was third in the recent group I Golden Slipper Stakes.
The Fleming boys had begun smiling while up on the podium by the time the bidding had reached Aust$2 million.
"I just couldn't believe what was happening," Paul said. "We knew he was popular but to reach Aust$2.5 million was out of this world. That just surprised the hell out of me."
Added Dean: "He was a great walker and a great looker, and his family tree is outstanding. The mare has had five to race and all five have won with three of them winning stakes races -- all at two years of age. And this one is the best bred of the five."
The Fleming and Tyreel story is a fascinating one - mainly because it took a sad but significant directional change last year when patriarch Jim Fleming, who bred American star A.P. Warrior, died suddenly.
Dean Fleming paid tribute to his late father Jim, following the sale of Tyreel's draft of youngsters which netted them Aust$11,155,000 at a staggering average of Aust $929,583. No farm came close to them on average, and as renowned bloodstock agent James Bester stated, "You can quote me on this. 'Tyreel's draft was the best prepared I have seen anywhere in the world - ever'."
The session finished with an average price of Aust $445,992. Seventeen yearlings sold for Aust$1million or more.
The final day fireworks propelled the overall sale average to a record Aust$376,342, with the overall median rising to Aust$250,000 – a 25% increase from last year. Despite having 86 fewer lots cataloged this year, the sale gross of Aust$143,010,000 fell only marginally short of last year’s figure.
In all, a record 28 yearlings sold for Aust$1million or more, including four that topped the Aust$2-million mark.
Ferguson was the leading buyer, securing 20 lots for Aust$19,005,000, including seven yearlings in excess of Aust$1million apiece. Topping his purchases was a Aust$2.7-million Redoute’s Choice -- Salameh colt offered by Emirates Park, which was knocked down by guest auctioneer John O’Kelly from Tattersalls in England.
“It is now one of the strongest sales anywhere in the world,” Ferguson said. “There’s great depth to the sale and that’s always the sign of a good sale.”
Ingham finished with 23 yearlings for $17,875,000.
“The sale has exceeded all expectations, given what has transpired over the past six months within the industry,” said Inglis managing director Mark Webster said. "It was particularly pleasing to see such a high clearance rate of 85%, and we couldn’t have possibly wished for a better result this week.”
Reavill Farm and Emirates Park also enjoyed stellar sales, with both vendors finishing with an average of better than Aust$700,000.
Coolmore Stud topped the vendors by gross, with 39 horses selling for Aust$16.415million. Arrowfield Stud sold 22 for Aust$13.145million.
Redoute’s Choice contributed a gross of Aust$38,795,000 to the sale, with 49 yearlings selling for an average of $791,735.
Attention now turns to Thursday, when Inglis will offer another 195 yearlings. That auction will be followed by the Classic yearling sale, which begins April 27.