Sun powers Easter spree for Hermitage

6 min read

By Bren O'Brien

The successes reaped from a famous purchase at the Inglis Australian Easter Sale two years ago have allowed Hermitage Thoroughbreds to go on somewhat of a spree at this year's sale, picking up ten yearlings on the first day and spending just short of $5 million.

While the thoroughbred world awaits confirmation of The Autumn Sun's (Redoute's Choice) future plans, Olly Koolman, who manages Hermitage's Australian interests, including the farm at The Oaks, south-west of Sydney, has been busy sourcing stock to fill the paddocks and transform Hermitage into a significant player in the Australian industry,

"We've done things a little bit differently than others," he said. "We’ve spent eight or nine years developing a beautiful property. Six years into it, we came across a fantastic horse."

"We’ve had a small number of horses and the emphasis now is to up the volume and have a serious go at it." - Hermitage Thoroughbreds' Olly Koolman

The success of that 'fantastic' horse, bought for $700,000 at this sale two years ago, and now set for a lucrative career at stud after a controlling share in the 3-year-old five-time Group 1 winner was sold to Arrowfield Stud, has allowed the strategy to move to the next stage.

The Autumn Sun as a yearling at the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale where he was purchased by Hermitage Thoroughbreds

"We’ve got the infrastructure. We’ve got a team around us, we’ve got trainers, we've got vets, we've got farriers and everyone works well together," Koolman said.

"We’ve had a small number of horses and the emphasis now is to up the volume and have a serious go at it."

The ten purchases on Tuesday were made up of six colts and four fillies, and perhaps significantly, with The Autumn Sun's stud career likely to begin this year, the top lot was a filly.

Lot 137 was the most expensive filly on the day. By Exceed and Excel out of American mare More Than Real (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}), she was offered by Kia Ora Stud and sold for $1.2m.

"She is a lovely filly. The general process is to walk away and look at a horse one, two or three times, but we only looked at her once and put her straight on the vet list. She passed with flying colours and there was no need to go back on what we saw the first time around," Koolman said.

"We only looked at her once and put her straight on the vet list." - Olly Koolman

"He is a great stallion, Exceed and Excel. He does it here and he does it in Europe as well."

Many of the Hong Kong-based investors in Hermitage are in Sydney this week and Koolman said there was universal support in the Hermitage Box to go to seven figures for the filly, who is a half-sister to Listed winner Miss Debutante (Fastnet Rock).

"She's easy to fall in love with. She's kind on the eye, everyone in the room here likes her and fell in love with her," he said.

"We are pretty sure where she'll be going. If it aint' broke don’t fix it and I think Chris (Waller) will have a bit of fun with her."

"Everyone in the room here likes her and fell in love with her." - Olly Koolman

While she is bred to be a sprinter, Koolman wouldn’t put an expectation on what type of racehorse the filly would develop into.

"I'd make a fool of myself if I told you she'd be a sprinter and she goes out and wins an Oaks. We bought The Autumn Sun to win the Derby, and he won’t see a Derby, so you don’t want to make yourself sound stupid," he said.

Filling up on broodmare prospects

The stronger focus on fillies at this sale is a deliberate strategy for Hermitage.

"Ideally we’d like to get some fillies around us so we can support (The Autumn Sun) when he's at stud. We just seem to picking Danehill-line horses, but I don’t know about that anyway," he said.

"They talk about outcrosses, but it seems to work doesn’t it. I don't think they did outcrosses when Star Kingdom dominated. I think they went and doubled up. I think we'll keep doing something similar."

The other fillies Hermitage purchased were Lot 171, by Vancouver out of Paprika (General Nediym) for $600,000 from Coolmore in partnership with Woppitt Bloodstock, Lot 67, by hot sire Dundeel (NZ) out of Jemison (Commands) from Arrowfield for $300,000 and Lot 40, by More Than Ready (USA) out of Happy Valentine (SAF) (Silvano {Ger}), also from Arrowfield for $200,000.

The colts it bought included Lot 95, an I Am Invincible offered by Yarraman Park for $600,000, Lot 6, a Redoute's Choice colt out of Group 1 winner Fenway (High Chaparral {Ire}) offered by Arrowfield for the same price and Lot 112, a No Nay Never (Ire) colt from Coolmore for $400,000.

There was also Lot 198, a Medaglia D'Oro (USA) half-brother to Group 1 winner Prompt Response (Beneteau) from Newgate for $450,000, Lot 216, a Teofilo {Ire}) from Widden for $440,000 and Lot 51, a Wandjina colt for just $40,000.

"The boss has been a big supporter of the Easter Sale. We've got a good statistic here that every horse we’ve bought has been a winner. We’ve got a fair bit of pressure now, we’ve got a few more horses. We're filling a few paddocks at the moment," he said.

"We've got a good statistic here that every horse we’ve bought has been a winner." - Olly Koolman

As for the racing future on The Autumn Sun, Koolman said a decision had been made but would likely not be announced until after the completion of the Easter Sale.

"There's a lot on here at the moment and we have to respect the fact that we are racing a horse with Arrowfield and they have got a lot of horses here and they need to be focussed on their wonderful draft of yearlings. We’re happy with that and we’ll come up with something in the next few days," he said.