Tattersalls yearlings to race down under

7 min read

For more than 30 years, Paul King was a successful, Group 1-winning jockey. King was based primarily in Western Australia but also spent time riding in faraway lands like Macau, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar, and even Inner Mongolia.

This week, he has dragged his suitcase to Newmarket, England for the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in his new role as a bloodstock agent under Kingcraft Bloodstock, an enterprise he started when he hung up his tack in January.

Through the first two days of Book Two of Tattersalls October this week, King has signed for six yearlings on behalf of an undisclosed Hong Kong-based client. The six yearlings, which will be shipped to Australia to be trained, are as follows:

Lot 937 (200,000gns): a colt from the first crop of Hot Streak (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}), who is a half-brother to two stakes-placed horses. Hot Streak was a group winner at both two and three and was third in the G1 King’s Stand S. at Royal Ascot. He stands at Tweenhills Stud, where he will be joined next year by Zoustar.

Lot 962 (220,000gns): another colt by Hot Streak. This one is the first foal out of the American-bred Street Boss (USA) mare Bossanova Lady (USA), a winner at two.

Lot 1002 (260,000gns): a filly by No Nay Never (USA) (Scat Daddy {USA}), Europe’s leading first-season sire whose first Australian-bred crop are yearlings this season.

Lot 1189 (90,000gns): a colt by Mastercraftsman (Ire) whose dam, Kindu (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), is a half-sister to European champion stayer Milan (GB) (Sadler’s Wells {USA}).

Lot 1278 (170,000gns): a colt by Camelot (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}) who is a half-brother to the listed winner Carnachy (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}).

Lot 1312 (100,000gns): a filly by Mastercraftsman out of the Galileo (Ire) mare Moonlight Sonata (GB), a three-quarter-sister to multiple group winner Western Hymn (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}).

TDN AusNZ’s Kelsey Riley caught up with King at Tattersalls to learn about his new business and buying strategy.

KR: It’s your first time at Tattersalls and so far you’ve come away with four yearlings: three bred for sprinting, and one that looks like more of a stayer. Can you talk about your buying strategy and why you’ve decided to buy yearlings in the UK?

PK: We’ve come over here to purchase some of these European-bred horses to take back to Australia, and mix up our bloodlines a bit. We bought more sprinting types on Tuesday and we’re looking at more staying types today [on Wednesday]. In Australia we don’t really breed for staying races, and we find the European stayers are far superior to the Australian-bred stayers.

"We find the European stayers are far superior to the Australian-bred stayers. " - Paul King

Paul King purchased two yearlings from the first crop of Hot Streak

KR: The market for stayers with form has gotten very expensive; is that why you’re looking to get in at the yearling stage?

PK: They are more expensive to buy once they’ve gotten going. We thought we’d start at the base level, which is the yearling sales, and hopefully buy a decent stayer.

We’re going to give these horses time; we’re not going to rush them into training. Anything we’ve bought as a staying prospect we’ll give a bit longer, give them time for their bones to develop and for them to mature. We probably won’t race these horses until they’re 3 1/2, nearly four, so they’ll have plenty of time to develop, grow and mature before we put any pressure on them.

No Nay Never

The sprinters, we’ll probably get up and running a bit earlier. We’ve looked for more solid-boned sprinters, but the stayers are more fine and you have to give their bones the opportunity to calcify and develop to help prevent injuries.

"We probably won’t race these horses until they’re 3 1/2, nearly four, so they’ll have plenty of time to develop, grow and mature before we put any pressure on them. " - Paul King

KR: Australia may no longer be known for its stayers, but its sprinters are among the best in the world. You’re obviously confident these European-bred sprinting types can stand up to the Australian sprinters?

PK: The horses we bought [on Tuesday], I’m very confident they’ll go to Australia and perform. No Nay Never hasn’t had any runners in Australia at this stage, but he’s had very prolific winners in Europe and he’s been going along extremely well. We thought we’d try to get ourselves at least one of them, which we did yesterday: we got a lovely No Nay Never filly who looks very much a running type.

No Nay Never

Hot Streak, there are none of them in Australia, but we thought they were very precocious-looking horses. He’s probably a stallion on the way up and they sold very well yesterday.

The three of them we bought look like they’ll be early runners, but we’ll give them some time because they’re probably six months behind [their equivalent crop in Australia] at this stage. They’ll probably be up and running into their 3-year-old preparation, and the stayers we buy will be more into their 4-year-old season.

KR: Which trainers will you use?

PK: The three I bought [on Tuesday] will go to Kim Waugh. I would suggest [the Mastercraftsman colt] will probably go to Darren Weir. If we happen to buy any more we may mix it up and give Darren another one, or our other trainer, which is Kris Lees.

Darren Weir

KR: It’s your first time here at this sale. What is your impression of the European yearlings as a group?

PK: Most of them I’ve seen have been lovely types, it’s just a matter of how deep your pockets are to get them. It’s been very competitive, and there are some lovely horses going through with plenty to choose from through Books 1, 2 and 3. There are some nice horses here and I think you can get some value.

KR: As we discussed previously, Australia’s staying races are increasingly dominated by foreign-bred horses. What are your thoughts on this?

PK: Australia is now importing quite a few European horses; Chris Waller does it a lot in Sydney and Darren Weir does it a fair bit as well. The trainers are importing these horses to Australia because they know they’re superior. Then, around Melbourne Cup time, a lot of them come down for the Cup. You don’t see as many of the Australian, or even New Zealand, stayers competing in our main race, the Melbourne Cup. So that’s why we thought we’d come and see if we could buy some at the bottom level and hopefully develop them into nice stayers for us down the road.

"Now, we import more stayers instead of breeding them. " - Paul King

Our prize money in Australia is very good. For us, 2-year-old racing and 3-year-old racing is very important. We breed for early speed and for horses to run early; we don’t give our stayers time to mature and develop. Prize money is so good that you have to get a quick result for your owners. So for that reason, you’re looking at sprinters more than stayers. We’ve [lost the practice of] giving them time and allowing them to mature and develop. Now, we import more stayers instead of breeding them.

We have lost the way on that, and it’s a shame because I think we could have had some nice-bred staying horses, but we’re more focused on sprinters. Our sprinters will match anywhere in the world; our stayers won’t. That’s why we’re here, and we’re hoping we can get a couple nice sprinters to take home as well.

KR: Can you tell us about the client you’re buying for, who will race these horses?

PK: He’s pretty low key and isn’t someone that likes to put himself out there. He’s a very good friend, I’ve known him for 15- 20 years; we have a good association and he’s put a lot of faith into what I’m choosing.