First-time buyer in HK$9m record deal
A first-time owner shelled out a Hong Kong International Sale record HK$9 million for a two-year-old son of boom sire Fastnet Rock on the advice of rookie trainer Richard Gibson at Sha Tin yesterday.
After the previous record of HK$7.5 million was surpassed three lots earlier, when another of the Australian sire's progeny went for HK$8 million, China-based owner Chiu Yung produced a massive bid for the athletic-looking sales-topper.
Gibson, the former France-based Englishman, who is enjoying a fine first season with 24 winners, will prepare the gelding. 'He was the one that we wanted,' he said of the 'ready-made racehorse', which cost the Hong Kong Jockey Club NZ$300,000 as a yearling. 'If he is half as good as the Fastnet Rocks in Australia, we'll be in good shape. I think the horse has great balance and fantastic breeding.'
With 14 of the 26 lots fetching more than HK$4 million, the sale aggregate reached an all-time high of HK$114.4 million. Though the average price was down, HK$4.7 million to HK$4.4 million, executive director of racing Bill Nader said this was because more horses were offered for sale than in previous years - up to 26 from 20 last year.
'There was great depth in this sale with a great variety of stallions from different parts of the globe, which in many ways is a good representation of what Hong Kong racing is, an amazing collection of talent from all over the world,' he said. 'Hopefully, we will see positive results from these horses in the years to come, which is the real test.'
The auction is unique in that the horses are purchased from the world's biggest sales rings as yearlings, then educated and prepared for nearly 12 months to be resold to an eager group of buyers.
Chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said the sale wasn't a money-making exercise.
'There is a sound demand for horses in the very top category and it is not about windfall profit,' he said. 'We have invested significantly in our facilities and services for owners, to make ownership an inclusive and sought-after lifestyle experience in Hong Kong.'
Executive manager of the sale Mark Richards said 'the horses that made big money, deserved to make big money' and nominated Lot 23, a royally bred English colt by Mr Greely, as the 'bargain' of the sale at HK$5.5 million.