Johannesburg Colt Leads Way as Inglis Premier Sale Opens

The 2006 Inglis premier yearling sale in Melbourne, which opened on Sunday in Australia, continued the global trend of buyers willing to spend on well-topped, muscular yearlings. As day one came to a close, the average was up staggeringly from last year. As was the median. The pass in rate, however, was large too.

Most vendors, including New Zealand's legendary Sir Patrick Hogan with a strong draft from his Cambridge Stud and here for the first time, were delighted. The little farms, though, felt the pinch, and this despite the fact Saturday's Inglis Premier Race - worth Aus$650,000 - was won by a filly who fetched a measly Aus$10,000 through this same ring last year.

"People just will not learn," said Robert Smerdon who trains the runaway winner Follow the Till. "Little fillies can run and they go so cheaply these days at yearling sales."

And that sentiment was evident on Sunday at this year's Melbourne Sale. If you were small, you were tossed back into the pond.

Gross receipts of Aus$10,519,500, an average of Aus$61,160, and a sensational median figure of Aus$50,000 -- a massive climb from Aus$42,500 at the same session in 2005 and indicative of the strength of the middle market.

"By the luck of the draw there are some outstanding lots in tomorrow (Monday). It's just the way it's fallen, so we're looking forward to it with great optimism," said Inglis director Peter Heagney.

First crop shuttle sire Johannesburg led the way early on in the day with one of his sons making Aus$260,000 to the bid of champion Randwick trainer Gai Waterhouse. Out of the Danehill mare Dane Time, the colt was consigned by Rothwell Park.

Waterhouse said afterward: "I thought he was really special. On type he is sensational. I just had to have him."

Naturally, Encosta De Lago was not likely to be without a headliner at a sale he has dominated in recent years, so it was no surprise when one of his more highly touted lots lived up to the hype to take joint top-lot honors. The final bid of Aus$260,000 came from agent Gary Mudgeway, signing on behalf of Peter Carrick's locally based Lakeview Resources.

Mudgeway said afterwards: "She was the one we wanted. I think she's the nicest Encosta De Lago filly in the sale. She had a little bit more scope than some of the others."

The daughter of group II-placed mare Fayrouz will head into training with Lee Freedman, who handles the same connection's Swish Trish, winner of the listed Redelva Stakes in Adelaid.