O'Sullivan has HK$7.5m smile
Trainer Paul O'Sullivan left yesterday's record-breaking Hong Kong International Sale with a HK$7.5 million smile - after the top lot was knocked down to one of his loyal owners, Tommy Yeung Kin-wing, who will put the valuable O'Reilly gelding in the hands of the New Zealand horseman.
Yeung has raced both Fascinating Smile and Centennial Smile with O'Sullivan for limited race-track success, but the big spender was clearly out to change his luck during yesterday's sale, and he finally secured the top-priced lot for the record-equalling figure.
'I don't think people should worry about the price of the horse, let's wait and let the results do the talking,' Yeung said after the purchase.
Danesis, the top lot at the 2006 sale, is the only horse in HKIS history to have matched the HK$7.5 million purchase price, but such was the depth of yesterday's bidding, that the sale also boasted the fourth highest priced lot at HK$7 million.
'This O'Reilly will replace Centennial Smile, so it's great to upgrade to such a quality individual,' O'Sullivan said. 'He's already a three-year-old and looks ready to run, so hopefully we have found one for Tommy to have a lot of fun with.'
O'Sullivan may yet produce an even bigger grin in the coming week, after Tavener's owner, Sidney Chiu, acquired a Dehere gelding for HK$3.5 million. Fun is an intangible to racehorse ownership that cannot be priced - and fun was exactly what the Jockey Club's International Sale representative, Mark Richards, hopes will be the legacy of yesterday's event for the new owners.
'Obviously it has been another outstanding result for the sale, but what I was most happy about this morning was the spirited and competitive bidding we saw in the auction ring,' Richards said.
'I really hope the buyers get the same enjoyment from watching their horse race as they have from the bidding wars that have taken place here today.
'We have built a reputation for being very selective, and our record over the years has shown buyers that they can turn up and buy a high-quality racehorse with maximum confidence.'
The HKIS pin-up horse remains champion miler Good Ba Ba, three-time victor in the Hong Kong International Mile and winner of HK$59 million in prize money - and his owner John Yuen Se Kit splurged HK$6 million of the winnings on a Bay gelding by Anabaa yesterday.
Yuen liked the way the horse breezed in the week before the sale and true-to-form has not yet decided which trainer he will ask to prepare his charge.
Overall, the 20 lots sold yesterday yielded a return of HK$94 million for the club, with an average of HK$4.7 million per lot. That figure was a significant increase on the 2009 sale, which saw 19 lots go through the ring for a combined HK$70 million, at an average price of HK$3.7 million.
The lots sold yesterday showed an increase on 2009's HK$79 million
The 20 lots sold yielded a return of this amount of money in millions of Hong Kong dollars: $94m