Hong Kong connections were prime movers at the Karaka Premier Yearling Sale in New Zealand this week, with the Jockey Club the second-biggest spender and Dr Gene Tsoi Wai-wang the seller of the colt that topped the prestigious auction.
Tsoi (pictured) is best known in racing as the owner-breeder of the Derby-winning filly Elegant Fashion, but also bred and races the current top-class mare King's Rose in Australia and New Zealand.
On Tuesday, the second day of the Premier session, Tsoi sold a half-brother to King's Rose by the leading stallion Fastnet Rock for NZ$1.75 million (HK$11.3 million) which made him the top lot of the sale and gave his breeder the unique distinction of offering the sale topper two years running. Last year, Tsoi sold a half-brother by Red Ransom for NZ$875,000.
Like him, the Fastnet Rock was purchased by prominent New Zealand owner-breeder, David Ellis, who fended off international giant Coolmore to make a purchase that ensured he was once again the leading buyer at Karaka.
The club's agent, Mark Richards, was the second-biggest spender in total, outlaying NZ$2.65 million for 12 yearlings, the most costly of them the Encosta De Lago - Ballermoss and Thorn Park - Sharvasti for NZ$350,000 apiece and an Encosta De Lago - Giovanna colt for NZ$310,000.
The New Zealand purchases will form the backbone of the Jockey Club's International Sale on the eve of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby in March.
Hong Kong bloodstock agent Willie Leung picked up two of the top five yearlings sold, paying NZ$800,000 for a High Chaparral colt, a three-quarter brother to So You Think, on behalf of owner Paul So Wing-keung.
He also secured for NZ$650,000 a High Chaparral-Creil colt for owner Lee Wan-keung.
'We went over budget but we were looking for a top staying horse, both here and in Hong Kong, and that's where we see him,' Leung said.
Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong celebrated a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday after he had paid NZ$320,000 for a High Chaparral colt at the sale on Tuesday.