By Murray Bell
Two owners of prominent players in today’s Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby (HK-I) spent big sums on the eve of the classic, with Peter Law King-sang and Cheng Keung-fai paying the equal top price of HK$6.5 million at the Hong Kong International Sale (part 2).
Cheng has Danesis, for which he gave a record HK$7.5 million at this sale two years ago, in the Derby field while Law’s familiar yellow and red colors will be carried by Christophe Soumillon aboard Jackpot Delight.
Cheng was the successful bidder for a colt by Encosta de Lago from Lane’s End, while Law spent his HK$6.5 million securing a colt by Redoute’s Choice from the Thunder Gulch mare Let’s Get Even.
The businessmen have enjoyed plenty of action at the track over the past year, especially Cheng, who notched seven wins between Danesis (three races) and Egyptian Ra (four), while Law has won three with Royal Delight, as well as third in the Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I), plus the one recent win of Jackpot Delight.
The second part of the HKIS came about because of the effects of equine influenza in Australia, with that country’s horse population locked down in early September and the Hong Kong-destined horses were unable to be moved until last month.
So yesterday, 13 highly-bred youngsters made their way belatedly to new owners and created just as much of a stir as the 17 that preceded them in December. In fact, yesterday’s group marginally outsold the December team, with the late arrivals grossing HK$57.4 million at an average of HK$4,415,385.
In December, the 17 youngsters brought an aggregate of HK$75 million but averaged HK$4,411,765. Amazingly, each session of the sale brought an identical median price of HK$4.5 million. The two sessions combined to give the club a record result of HK$132.4 million.
Jockey Club international racing and sale manager Mark Player said the results were "very gratifying, very exciting" and he thanked the owners for their vote of confidence in the sale.
"The owners clearly have a great level of confidence now in this sale, and right across the 13 horses offered today, there wasn’t a weakness in demand," Player said. He might have added that the cheapest horse at the sale, at HK$3 million, was the same price as the dearest lot just two years ago.
Although the sale was not created to make a profit, but rather to provide a service to club owners, the demand was such that the club showed an after-expenses profit of HK$20 million on the 13 sale horses.
Later, lots were drawn for 20 two subscription griffins, with owners giving the club HK$1.2 million for the right to be randomly allocated a horse, also chosen by Player and his team at major sales around Australia and New Zealand early last year. The demand for subscription griffins was such that 168 owners applied for the 20 available permits.
Player said that one owner in particular received a bargain as pedigree updates would see his griffin , a son of Faltaat, valued on the open market today at closer to HK$4 million.