While horseman in the Northern Hemisphere are working their way through the dark, damp days of winter, a significant portion of the Australasian breeding and racing community were enjoying the sunshine at the Gold Coast in Queensland.
From a racing standpoint, the highlight was the A$2,000,000 BMW Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic, run over six furlongs. In a sixteen horse field, the Gai Waterhouse-trained stable companions, No Looking Back and Driefontein hit the wire a neck apart. No Looking Back, a daughter of Champion Sire Redoute’s Choice was in front when the camera clicked, but the stewards adjudged that she had hampered her rival in the final furlong, and reversed the order. In third, Alezan Thunder, a daughter of last year’s Leading Freshman Sire, Written Tycoon, completed a filly trifecta in what looks a strong race in terms of form. Rated A++ by TrueNicks, Driefontein is by the Danehill horse Fastnet Rock, and it propelled her sire to he the head of the 2011-2012 Australian sires standings (with Redoute’s Choice in second), and he’s also the leader by stakes winners, stakes wins and graded stakes winners. A stellar sprinter in an era of world-class Australian sprinters, Fastnet Rock has made a outstanding start to his stud career. Driefontein has sired 23 stakes winners in his first three crops – Driefontein is from his fourth crop – 17 of these are graded, and eight grade one.
Driefontein, who is cleverly named after a gold mine in South Africa, is out of Follow Gold, a black-type winning daughter of the Habitat (by Sir Gaylord) stallion, Export Price. Follow Gold is a sister to Export Gold, who won the MRC Debutante Stakes, and subsequently produced the Charnwood Forest horse, Forest Gold, winner of the Singapore Three-Year-Old Challenge Stakes, a local grade three event. There are some relatively unfamiliar names lurking in the female line but it is one of considerable speed and precocity. The second dam,Follow the Sails, is by the Irish-bred Scruples (by Windjammer, from a fast U.S. branch of theBlenheim II sire line). Follow the Sails is half-sister to Temperate Pug, winner of the VRC Pat Lalor Quality Handicap (gr. III) and VATC Mercedes-Benz Stakes. The third dam, Follow Me Through, was another precocious performer, taking the VATC Debutante Stakes (gr. III) over 900m (4 1/2 furlongs). This family arrived in Australia in the 1950s, but it has been a considerable time since it has produced a performer of grade one class. In fact one has to go back around 13 generations to the 1880s, before one comes to Avoca, the fourth dam of the 1951 2,000 Guineas winner Ki Ming, and fifth dam of Montaval, who took the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
With 495 of 640 hips sold in the select portion of the Magic Millions yearling sale, the gross was A$62,282,500, with an average of $125,823, and a median of A$100,000. The average was up 2.9% and the median showed an 11.1% increase. Unsurprisingly Fastnet Rock was also responsible for the yearling sale topper, a bay colt out of the well related Rose of Cimmaron, that was offered by Ian Smith’s Edinburgh Park, and knocked down to Demi O’Byrne and James Bester Bloodstock for A$960,000. Rated TrueNicks B+ on the basis of the mating of sons of Danehill over mares by the U.S.-bred Spectacular Bid stallion, Bite the Bullet – which most notably produced grade two winner Varenna Miss, who is out of Mica’s Pride, a graded stakes winning sister to Rose of Cimmaron. This was the first foal for the mare, who is also a sister to the dam of another Danehill line stakes winner, Bhutane Dane, and half-sister to Fastnet Rock black-type winner, Amah Rock. The granddam, Gainesville, is a U.S. bred daughter of Afleet, and is a sister to stakes winners Afleetaffair and Justadarling.
Gerald Ryan went to A$750,000 to secure the second high-priced offering, a Redoute’s Choice colt out of Cloister (also TrueNicks B+), that was presented by Reavill Farm. He is a brother to Melito, a multiple grade one winner with earnings of almost A$2,000,000 that Ryan trained, as well as being three-parts-brother to black-type placed Across the Moon, and half-brother to black-type placed Sister Declan. The dam – a daughter of the the Sir Tristram stallion,Marauding – herself gained black-type herself with a win in the MRC Debutante Stakes. The granddam, Pampas Fire, who took the VATC Debutante Stakes (gr. III), has an intriguing pedigree. She is by Prince True, a grandson of Majestic Prince, and her dam, Summoned, is by Champion English Two-Year-Old Crowned Prince, a brother to Majestic Prince. In that light, it’s interesting to recall that Crowned Prince and Majestic Prince are from the immediate family of His Majesty, broodmare sire of Danehill. Should this colt make the grade on the track, he certainly has a stallion pedigree, as not only has Redoute’s Choice been making a name for himself as a sire of sires with the likes of Snitzel, Stratum and Not a Single Doubt, but the granddam is a half-sister to the very successful stallion, Zeditave, sire of Magic Albert.
The third most expensive yearling was a More Than Ready colt – Fastnet Rock, Redoute’s Choice and More Than Ready between them were responsible for 11 of the top 12 lots – offered by Newgate Farm (as Agent), and purchased by Gai Waterhouse and James Harron Bloodstock for $A680,000. Bred on the now-famed cross of More Than Ready out of mares by Danehill – it’s already produced grade one winners Dreamaway, Benicio and Perfectly Ready – the colt is out of Aqua d’Amore, a winner of four graded events, including the MRC Futurity Stakes (gr. I).The top-price realized by a freshman sire – and by any horse outside of the first three – was the $450,000 paid by Ronstel Thoroughbreds for a colt offered by Murrulla Stud (as Agent). He’s a son of Champion Two-Year-Old Sebring (by More Than Ready) out of Valda Merceda. The dam, a daughter of Hennessy, is a five time winner, and a half-sister to grade one scorerBawalaksana, and graded winner Damaschino.