Record Price Established at Hong Kong International Sale

The Hong Kong International Sale realized a record price Dec. 11 at Sha Tin Racecourse when a gelded son of King's Best sold for HK$6 million (US $771,506). The sale was held for the first time inside the new HK$410 million retractable roof walking ring on the Saturday afternoon prior to the Dec. 12 Cathay Pacific International races.

Produced from the Nassipour mare Georgiana, the top price surpassed the record HK$4.8 (US $615,464) established for a son of Desert Sun during the 2002 sale.

Overall, the 2004 gross jumped from HK $ 41,500,000 (US$5,344,495) last year to HK$43,000,000 ($5,529,124) despite six fewer hips -- 19 sold this year compared to 25 last year. The average HK$2,263,158 ($291,007) was up dramatically from the 2003 figure of HK $1,660,000 (US $213,780). The median also increased to HK$2 million (US$ 257,169).

The horses offered in the sale were purchased during yearling sales in the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. The prices on the bidding screen were shown in Hong Kong, US, Australian, and New Zealand dollars, and euros.

The sale, in its ninth year, was conducted for the second consecutive year by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Australian sales company Magic Millions.

All horses sold without reserves, but the catalogue clearly stated the purchase price and also published were the prices the Hong Kong Jockey Club had incurred while preparing the horses for the sale.

Three Keenland sale graduates passed through the ring to gross HK$4.7 million (US$604,345). A son of Gone West led the way for the American-bred horses fetching a price of HK$2.2 million (US$282,885) from Daniel Chan Cheong Lung. Produced from the winning The Minstrel mare Performing Arts, the gelding was purchased out of the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale for $120,000 and had a Hong Kong Jockey Club pre-sale cost of HK$1,469,000.

The Gone West gelding is a half-brother to grade II winner Performing Magic, Irish group III winner Woodsborough, and group winner Dance Trick.

Hong Kong Jockey Club official Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was pleased with the outcome of the sale, said there was only one problem with this year's results. "Now we have to do this again next year," he said following the sale.

"The results far exceeded our expectations," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "I am sure the new venue created an atmosphere conductive to buying horses. This was the first year the public has been invited to attend the sale. We want to include the fans in as many aspects as possible. The fans cheering added another element of excitement to the day.

"I think we can say that an average of over $2.2 million is outstanding and an indicator that the economy is on the up. We were hoping for an average of about $1.7 million. But it's not just about the numbers. Profit here is not the priority. We need to bring the right horses to Hong Kong and we're selling them to our members so we certainly want satisfied customers," Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

The record priced yearling was originally purchased by Engelbrecht-Bresges in New Zealand for NZ$360,000 and his pre-sale cost was listed at HK $2,372,000.

New Zealand trainer Paul O'Sullivan recommended the King's Best yearling to first-time horse owner Shun So, who is managing director of Ki Mee Kitchenware. "I have spoken to him several times and certainly recommended this horse," O'Sullivan said. "I would love to train him but that decision is, of course, is up to the owner."

The second top-priced yearling, a bay gelding by Danehill, was purchased by first-time owner Hiu Fung Choi for HK$4.2 million ($540,054).

"This one was one of four we had originally picked out," said Choi's partner Eric Li, with the aid of a translator. "Obviously the King's Best was our first choice. This one had a very nice conformation. Had seen him at the stable and at the breeze-up."

It is also believed that Choi and his partner Eric Li were underbidders at $5.5 million for the King's Best gelding.