Rock of Gibraltar Colt Tops Easter Sale's Second Session

Premier Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse spent $3million (U.S. $2,476,000) for a handsome half-brother to European superstar Holy Roman Emperor during the second session of William Inglis & Son's Australian Easter yearling sale Wednesday night in Sydney. It was a timely purchase as Coolmore this week announced that two-time group l winner Holy Roman Emperor was coming to Australia to begin his stud career this year.

There is no announcement as yet on Holy Roman Emperor's service fee, but industry speculation has it at around $44,000 ($36,324). His not so little brother by Rock of Gibraltar was rumored to be much in favor before he even entered the sale ring and as a result, his presence drew a huge crowd of nearly 4,000 people.

Auctioneer Jamie Inglis said as he walked in: "Ladies and gentleman, have a long look at this fellow. He would not be out of place in any sale ring in the world. I do not even need to say anything more except who wants the honor of opening the bidding on this horse. Do I have $2 million as an opening bid?"

He didn't, as $500,000 was yelled out, but bidding grew very quickly and reached $2 million within moments. It stopped at 3million, and Waterhouse revealed she had gathered up a syndicate of owners headed surprisingly by Hong Kong businessman Tony Cheung and Coolmore.

Cheung, who suffered a debilitating stroke two years ago, was the owner of the emerging yearling and racing establishment Motto Farm Stud in New South Wales before his family scaled back his Thoroughbred interests at the start of the year. Part of their culling was to sell the farm, which is now under new management, and it was believed Cheung had raced his last horse in Australia.

But almost as if he himself was defying family logic, Cheung hopped on a plane, flew into Sydney, and was next to Waterhouse when she bid on his behalf.

The colt's dam, L'On Vite, has had seven runners thus far with five of them winning. Four have earned black type.

His sale started a 15-minute period of selling at Inglis the likes of which has never been seen before.

The very next hip number into the ring was a colt by another son of Danehill, Redoute's Choice, from the Last Tycoon two-time winner La Bamba. He had a better body than the Rock of Gibraltar yearling, but didn't walk quite as well. This didn't deter anyone. He, being a full-brother to the recently retired stakes winner of $480,000 Lucky Unicorn, fetched $1.6 million ($1,320,000) from Renata Coleman.

The next horse into the ring was a bay colt presented by Coolmore by Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus from the Danehill mare La Boiselle. He was the mare's first foal, and he reached $550,000, falling to Makybe Diva's owner Tony Santic.

The next horse into the ring attracted Adrian Nicoll's eye. The filly is by Coolmore's Encosta de Lago from the multiple-stakes-winning Danehill mare La Lagune. Nicoll snared her for $725,000 ($599,000).

A Zabeel yearling that went for $475,000 followed, then two hips later, Teeley Assets, who owned Redoute's Choice, spent $625,000 ($516,000) for a big bay filly by Encosta de Lago from the Laranto mare La Volta. That meant those seven hips went through the ring fetching $7.2 million ($5,941,000).

It didn't last, obviously, but this year's average and sale did reach record levels—yet again. After two days of the three-day sale, the record pace being set for average is $309,794 ($255,374). The gross is $75,280,000 ($62,175,000).

"We are over the moon with the sale this year," declared Inglis acting managing director Jamie Inglis.