A feature of the Tattersalls Horses-in-Training Sale in recent years has been the increase in Australian buyers looking for staying-bred horses to compete in the Cup races. Most prestigious of all is the Melbourne Cup and, with its $6.2 million prize-money, it’s little wonder that owners are prepared to splash out in securing the right horse for the job.
In this year’s Cup, only one horse in the top ten started life in the southern hemisphere – the NZ-bred Precedence – and 16 of the 24-strong field began their racing careers in Europe.
The winner, Green Moon, who was bred in Ireland like all of the first eight home, never made it as far as Park Paddocks. Having been entered for the 2010 sale he was withdrawn and sold privately to Lloyd Williams, as was the Aga Khan-bred Mourayan, who finished seventh.
Runner-up Fiorente was another private purchase, as recently as September, switching from Sir Michael Stoute’s stable to that of of Gai Waterhouse, but in the last two years Australia’s leading lady trainer has sent a team to Tattersalls to buy potential Cup horses.
One of those was Glencadam Gold, a son of Refuse To Bend who fetched 135,000gns at last year’s sale and won the Group 1 Metropolitan at Randwick before finishing sixth in the Melbourne Cup. This year, Waterhouse’s assistant Bruce Slade bought three more, paying 200,000gns for Offer, a colt from Ballydoyle’s draft who shares his sire Montjeu with Green Moon and of whom Slade said: “We didn’t want to go back to Australia without this horse.”
Motivado topped the consignment from Sir Mark Prescott’s Heath House Stables and his purchaser Charles Egerton may have fooled a few into thinking the son of Motivator would be going jumping but the trainer had his agent’s hat on that day, bidding 200,000gns on behalf of Australian trainer David Hayes. Also heading to Hayes’s Lindsay Park operation is the Epsom Derby Trial winner Goldoni, bought for 210,000gns, and Juddmonte’s Dansili colt Wrotham Heath, a 135,000gns purchase.
Chris Waller, a New Zealander by birth, is another Australian-based trainer who has benefited from shopping at Tattersalls, with subsequent Group 1 winners (My) Kingdom of Fife and Stand To Gain among his previous purchases. This year his team bought another seven lots, topped by four-year-old Mulaqen, a progressive dual winner for Marcus Tregoning, at 170,000gns.
Those sold at public auction are only the tip of the iceberg of staying blood leaving this country for the southern hemisphere, with Gatewood, Harris Tweed, Jakkalberry, Crackerjack King, (My) Quest For Peace and Voila Ici just some of the horses sold privately to Australian concerns within the last 12 months.
The later-maturing types may be overlooked to an extent at the yearling sales but there are plenty of cheque books being waved in the direction of middle-distance horses with the right type of form in the book.