By Ric Chapman
Two things stood out on day one of Victoria's Premier yearling sale, traditionally a good sale for finding bargain babies.
Firstly, that the buoyant mood yearling buyers have been in all over the world for the past 15 months, may have uncharacteristically halted for a moment, and two, Australian buyers are shunning American-bred stallions.
Chief casualty, Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch. So lacking in popularity with Aussie breeders last year, Coolmore didn't bring him back. He had served diligently for seven seasons leading up to the collective back being turned on him. He had seven entered for day one, with four sold averaging just $18,000 (U.S.$13,955).
The year these yearlings were conceived he was serving at $30,000. The rest of the Thunder Gulch offspring on day one were bought back.
Even Danehill and King's Best, two of the highest profiled U.S,-bred stallions, were overlooked. Danehill's only yearling on day one was bought back for $170,000 when her owners Collingrove Stud wanted $200,000.
King's Best who has been wowing them all over the world in recent sales, performed a little better, selling up to $155,000
(U.S.$120,154) at an average of $92,000 (U.S.$71,314). Mark Pilkington took a shine to them buying the beautifully bred Catnipped colt for $155,000 and a filly from Spinnaker Bay for $75,000 (U.S.$58,164) from Vinery.
The sole offering by Fusaichi Pegasus was scratched.
Top priced at the sale went to a son of Australian-bred Encosta de Lago (Fairy King--Shoal Creek). Bart Cummings bought him for $320,000 (U.S.$248,000) and he's from the well-bred Is It True
mare True Believer who was a useful sprinter in her day, but more importantly is a half-sister to former brilliant galloper Old Comrade.
Encosta de Lago had four yearlings sell for over $100,000 on day one and was clearly the most in-demand stallion at the sale.
The day ended with the average being a useful $49,382 (U.S.$38,299) with 192 selling from 255 catalogued. Of them, 17 were withdrawn.
All yearlings purchased at the 2004 Premier sale will be eligible to compete in the inaugural $1million Inglis Championship to be staged at Flemington during the autumn carnival.