Records were smashed at the annual Hong Kong International Sale as businessman Peter Lau Pak-fai bought himself a “birthday gift” and splashed HK$10.5 million on Lot 16, the most ever spent on a single horse at the sale. 

A total of HK$130 million, another record, was spent by some of Hong Kong’s richest owners on horses purchased as yearlings by the Jockey Club and then re-sold to members as un-raced prospects.

Bidding was fierce overall, but Lau stole the show as the founder of Japan Home Centre won a bidding war for the strapping gelding, revealing later that he purchased the horse as a birthday present for himself.

The son of Hussonet will be trained by Danny Shum Chap-shing, who was another big winner from the sale with the rising star of the training ranks set to train up to six of the 29 lots that went under the hammer.

“I’m going to have to make some room for new horses, it’s a good problem to have,” Shum said. “I liked the horse, he is big and strong and moved well in his gallop.”

Hong Kong International Sale executive manager of international sales Mark Richards was taken aback by the spirited bidding – particularly for the top lot.

“He is a nice, balanced athlete, but I didn’t think he would make that kind of money. I thought HK$6 million, and I would have been just as amazed at that, I would have valued him at half of that [HK$10.5m] but when you’ve got more than one person that wants a horse then that’s what happens. Overall, I’m astounded.” 

Held under lights and the retractable roof of the Sha Tin Racecourse Parade Ring, the atmosphere seemed to spur bidding and the purchaser of last year’s top lot, Liu Yu-wen, was back again spending big.

A year after paying HK$8.5 million for exciting sprinter Jing Jing Win, Yiu paid HK$9 million for gelding by Holy Roman Emperor – a sire that has been immensely successful in Hong Kong.

Of course a big price tag is no guarantee of success, with the previous record holder being a Fastnet Rock that sold for HK$9 million in March 2012 – a horse that never made it to the racetrack after being injured at trackwork..