Lot 18, an Australian-bred bay gelding by Snitzel.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Andrew Hawkins
Horses acquired from the world’s leading thoroughbred auction houses will go under the hammer when the Hong Kong International Sale (March) heads to the Sha Tin parade ring on the evening of Friday, 16 March.
The one-of-a-kind sale brings together unraced stock, purchased all over the world, who are then offered exclusively to Hong Kong permit-holders. This year’s March sale sees 14 lots on offer from Europe, while 14 lots were sourced from the southern hemisphere.
This year’s sale features 11 lots from Australian sales – the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale and the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale – while three came out of the New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale at Karaka. Each horse was then prepared by Bruce Harvey at his Ascot Farm property in Cambridge, New Zealand, before arriving in Hong Kong last month.
“This is a really good group of horses,” said Mark Richards, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Manager, International Sale. “The greatest difference between the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere horses is that the southern hemisphere horses look to be more sprinters, while the northern hemisphere horses on the whole are more milers.
“With that in mind, there is something for everybody at this year’s sale.”
Reigning champion Australian sire well-represented
Among the highlights of those purchased down under are two sons of Snitzel, Lots 18 and 24, who were both purchased from the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Snitzel is last season’s Champion Australian Sire, while he also looks set to claim honours in Australia this term, with G1 winners this season such as Redzel, Russian Revolution and Trapeze Artist.
The biggest horse to go through this year’s sale, weighing in at 1238 pounds (as of 24 February), is Lot 18. The strapping gelding is a son of Hussonet mare Good Weekend; she is a full-sister to the great Weekend Hussler, Australia’s Horse of the Year in 2008 and a seven-time Group 1 winner from 1100m to 1800m.
Another half-brother to the dam, Peaceful State, gave this gelding’s page a boost when he finished second in last weekend’s G1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
Lot 24 is a son of the Kyllachy mare Highland Daughter, who was stakes-placed as a two-year-old in the G3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes (1200m) at Ayr in Scotland.
Since he was purchased from the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, the gelding’s year-older half-brother Highland Beat has emerged as a hardy sprinter, winning the Listed Creswick Stakes (1200m) at Flemington while also boasting G3 placings behind G1 winners Extreme Choice and Russian Revolution.
Also in the family is Helene Mascot, who soared to prominence at Sha Tin a decade ago with his wins in both the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile and the HKG1 Hong Kong Derby, as well as last year’s G1 Fillies Mile (1600m) winner at Newmarket, Laurens.
“It’s exciting to have two Snitzels in this sale, and they are both of a high quality,” Richards said. “Lot 18 has a great action and a good page, while Lot 24 has had the best update we could have hoped for when we bought him, as Highland Beat had not yet done anything. They will both be worth watching.”
New Zealand’s leading sire to the fore
Not only is Australia’s leading sire a prominent factor, but New Zealand’s champion stallion Savabeel also has representation with two lots.
Lot 12 is out of the Minardi mare Ocean Of Tears. She is a half-sister to G2-winning juvenile Hips Don’t Lie, while she has produced G3 winner No More Tears.
“He is a belter, he’s one of the standouts of the sale,” Richards said. “You won’t see the best of him until he gets to a mile and he will probably stay a bit further. He’s got a good action, a good head, he’s a quality animal. There’s plenty of black type on the page too. I think he could go a long way.”
Lot 4 is a full-brother to classy Kiwi mare Coldplay, a multiple G2 winner of the Rich Hill Mile and the Cal Isuzu Stakes, both at 1600m.
Other Australasian highlights
Lot 6, a son of Poet’s Voice out of Catbird mare Salix Caprea, is a half-brother to the G1-placed mare Catkins. Trained by Chris Waller, she was renowned for her quality and her durability over a number of seasons.
“For mine, he is exactly what I would expect a Hong Kong horse to look like,” Richards said. “He’s a miler, but he’s got a touch of quality about him. He’s really balanced, he’s a rock-solid horse that is thriving in Hong Kong. He is a lovely horse.”
Lot 8 is by the speedy I Am Invincible out of the General Nediym mare Zadiym.
Lot 10 is a Casino Prince half-brother to Believe Yourself, a precocious filly who won the G2 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) and finished fourth in the G1 Golden Slipper (1200m) in Sydney before taking her form to Singapore with placings in a number of feature races.
Both Lots 14 and 16 are sons of Not A Single Doubt, who has stamped himself as one of Australia’s leading stallions in recent seasons. Lot 14 is out of the More Than Ready mare Heaven Beneath, herself a daughter of G2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) winner Moon Dragon, while Lot 16, out of the Snippets mare Aringarosa, is a half-brother to the durable Power Receiver, a 13-time winner in New South Wales.
Lot 20 is a son of Hard Spun out of the Rory’s Jester mare Seamstress. She is a full-sister to both Seidnazar and Real Jester, who finished second and fourth respectively in Victoria’s premier juvenile race, the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), while she has produced three winners, including the stakes-placed All Sewn Up.
Lot 22 is by Exceed And Excel, the sire of this season’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor Mr Stunning, out of the Traditionally mare Panama, herself a G2 placegetter. The dam is a half-sister to G1 winner Captivate, while the family has also produced G1 winners Culminate and Eileen Dubh.
Lot 26 is a Commands gelding out of a daughter of Champagne, a multiple G1-winning mare who shone with her versatility. The bay himself is a three-quarter brother to Unsurpassed, stakes-placed in New Zealand.
Lot 28 brings a potent mix of speed and stamina to the table. By sprinting sire Bel Esprit, who counts champion mare Black Caviar among his progeny, this bay is a son of Sable, a nine-time winner up to 2200m.
The 2018 Hong Kong International Sale will take place at Sha Tin on Friday, 16 March, beginning at 7:45pm local time.