For the third consecutive year, a member of the Danehill line brought a record-breaking price on Friday at the Hong Kong International Sale.
The sale topper at HK$4.8 million (US$615,464) was a 2-year-old bay colt by the young sire Desert King, a son of Danehill, the most successful sire in Hong Kong racing history. The price eclipsed the record HK$4.7 million paid earlier in the session for a Danehill colt. The third- and fourth-priced horses in the sale were also sons of Danehill.
The previous record of HK$4.5 million was set last year for a Danehill colt out of a Darashaan mare.
Nuerosurgeon Dr. Andrew Wong and George Chang purchased the Australian-bred sale topper, who is out of the Crown Jester mare Very Droll. The colt is a half-brother to Australian 2-year-old champion Ha Ha and stakes winner Dry Humour.
John Moore will train the colt for Wong and Chang.
"I thought he was the best mover of all the horses that breezed up, a fabulous mover," Moore said. "Desert King, you could probably say wouldn't be my favorite of the Danehill sons, but it's still the right genetic cross, as far as I'm concerned."
Despite the two record-breaking colts, the gross sales for the 35 lots sold was HK$49,900,000 (US$6,405,648), a drop of 11.5% from last year, when 38 horses were sold. The average price of HK$1,425,714 (US$183,018) was a decrease of 3.9%.
The Hong Jockey Club purchased all of the horses at auctions around the world and offered them to club members who had permits to buy horses this year. The Keeneland Association conducted the auction.
"In this business climate we stick our necks out. We buy some stallions who are not exactly fashionable," said Dominick Li, the International Races and Sale Manager for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. "The trainers have been very supportive and they've been very discerning to the type of horse that they like.
"They've proven today that a horse needs his physical and his pedigree to pull it through in this sale. It's not as easy as presenting a Danehill and he gets bought."
Li said he was pleased with the results of the sale.
"I think we did a pretty good job, all considering," he said. "The economy has not picked up since we bought these horses. It's not easy."
Rusy M. Shroff, who has owned horses since 1970, outlasted Wong and Chang for the grey Danehill colt that sold for HK$4.7 million. He is out of the stakes winning Swift Gun mare Swiftswynd, whose five winners include graded stakes winner Le Zagelatta.
"This was the choice from the begging," Shroff said. "We sold a horse a Sunday and I said, `Let's try this one.' We're lucky to get this one."