Exceed and Excel has been sold for a reported record $22 million (Australian funds; about U.S. $16.2 million) to Sheikh Mohammed. As a direct result, the Danehill colt will miss a Dubai confrontation with Cajun Beat and others in the Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai March 27.
The sale was confirmed March 16 by Oliver Tait on behalf of Darley Australia. Tait is manager of Darley's new Hunter Valley operation in New South Wales.
News of the sale came as early as last Friday. Confidentially agreements were signed over the weekend with the colt's owners, Alan Osburg and Nick Moraitis, and trainer Tim Martin. The lull was construed in some sections of the media as evidence the deal had fallen through.
However, Exceed and Excel passed the required battery of veterinary examinations, and the deal was signed off by Monday. Martin will continue to train the winner of $1.28 million, perhaps for a proposed English campaign.
Osburg and Moraitis have a long history as owners. Moraitis raced 1990s champion galloper Might and Power (by Zabeel) and has a sizable string. He will have no further association with Exceed and Excel, but Osburg retains a share.
No party would reveal financial details, but the sale is believed to value the colt at $22 million. If so, it would be an Australian record for a homebred.
The record was $10 million, paid by Coolmore for Choisir after his English victories last summer. The Danehill Dancer son is currently working his first Irish season.
Coolmore also paid an Australian record $23.3 million for Danehill in 1994. That was a private auction between it and the then 8 year-old's controlling partner, Arrowfield. The purchase turned out to be a huge coup for Coolmore.
Exceed and Excel is from the 10th of Danehill's dozen Australian generations. The first foal from Patrona, a U.S.-bred daughter of Lomond, he was bred by Vinery and Kia-Ora Stud client, the Ascot Breeding Partnership.
The colt was first seen by Martin three months before the 2002 Australian Easter sale. Martin had not paid more than $30,000 for a horse but "just had to have him." He signed the invoice with a quavering hand after halting proceedings with a $375,000 bid. At the time, he had no owner for the horse.
Martin spent a "scary" two weeks before he drew Osburg into a 50% interest. The remaining equity was later taken by Moraitis.
Exceed and Excel won his seventh race from 11 starts with a wire-to-wire win in the $1 million Newmarket Handicap over the 1,200 meters straight course at Flemington on March 6.
The 3 year-old also defeated his elders in group I competition over 1,400 meters last September.
Exceed and Excel will follow the trail blazed by Choisir last year, an English campaign taking in majors sprints, the Golden Jubilee and July Cup (both Eng-I).
Melbourne agent Henry Plumtre, a consultant for Darley, confirmed Martin's continuation as trainer, at least in the short term.
"We feel if Tim can accompany the horse to England, as Paul Perry did with Choisir, it would be beneficial for the horse and everyone else."
He is likely to race on until 2005 before starting to shuttle between Europe and Australia.