Vinnie leads brilliant conclusion to extraordinary Easter sale

19 min read
A record-breaking filly by I Am Invincible, sold for $1.95 million to Sheamus Mills, highlights the final day of the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, which continued the relentless resurgence of the yearling market in 2021 with the best Easter Sale results since 2008.

Cover image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

At A Glance

Sheamus Mills paid the highest-ever price for a yearling by I Am Invincible paying $1.95 million for Lot 340 from the draft of Coolmore.

Yarraman Park's I Am Invincible had six million-dollar-plus yearlings on the final day.

Widden Stud's Zoustar also reached a new high when Matt Laurie paid $1.25 million for Lot 377, a colt from Widden Stud's draft.

Peter Moody created history purchasing the final yearling to be offered by the great Redoute's Choice at the Easter Sale.

The Sale set modern records for all key metrics.

The Sale average of $371,236 is up from $353,511 in 2019 (last year was a virtual sale) and the highest since 2008.

The Sale median was $280,000 up on $260,000 in 2019.

The Sale aggregate was over $132 million, up from $123.4 million two years ago.

The clearance rate of 88 per cent is also superior to 2019, where it was 86 per cent.

Mills holds up under pressure

Bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills may have been 'shaking like a leaf' after paying the day's top price, $1.95 million for Lot 340 from the Coolmore draft, but hopes he has secured a future blue-hen.

The result set a new record price for a daughter of I Am Invincible, who enjoyed a remarkable day with his progeny in the ring, with six million-dollar yearlings.

The filly is a daughter of Hips Don't Lie (NZ) (Stravinsky {USA}), who has already produced three stakes winners to Fastnet Rock in Ennis Hill, Lake Geneva and this season's R. Listed Inglis Nursery winner, Acrobat.

Bidding on behalf of clients who successfully raced G1 Thousand Guineas winner Odeum (Written Tycoon), Mills admitted he was well beyond his comfort zone when fending off the competition of Richard and Michael Freedman to bring the star filly south to Victoria to be trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr.

Lot 340 - I Am Invincible x Hips Don't Lie (NZ) (filly) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

“We are building hopefully what will be an elite broodmare band. She is by, in my opinion, the best stallion in the country from one of my favourite families in the country. I don’t think I am overstating it when I say she is a collector’s item which you will get very few opportunities to buy," he said.

"I don’t think I am overstating it when I say she (Lot 340) is a collector’s item which you will get very few opportunities to buy." - Sheamus Mills

"I said to my man, you can’t find these things. She is a horse you are going to own for 10 to 15 years. Hopefully we are back here, after she wins a Group 1, selling foals out of her for a similar price.

“I am shaking like a leaf, to be honest, but we really, really wanted her. I didn’t think I’d have to pay that for her, but I did think she was the best horse here with the best pedigree. She’s a 10 or 15-year keep and, as I said, I didn’t think I’d have to pay that for her, but whoever was underbidder wouldn’t drop off."

Sheamus Mills (right) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Filly from an extraordinary family

Amazingly, she is the fourth $1 million-plus yearling from Hips Don’t Lie to be sold at the Easter Sale, although the first since 2016. The mare has not had a foal since she foaled this filly.

“I think it is the best family in the Stud Book and I think many people would still rate Acrobat as the best 2-year-old we saw. Obviously, we are hoping he will get back to the races and, family wise, it’s as deep as it gets," Mills said.

"She’s by the best stallion here who gets unbelievable fillies and, as I say, she’s a long-term prospect. You have to put some value on these things because they can breed for you. She’s not going to end up as a gelding. When we are selling foals two, three, four and five out of her, hopefully the dollars will make some sense.”

James Bester purchased Hips Don’t Lie for NZ$200,000 as a yearling at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka Sale in 2007, and after she won the G2 Reisling S. as well as two stakes races, maintained an interest in her when Colm Santry paid $700,000 for her on Coolmore's behalf as a broodmare prospect in 2009.

James Bester | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

"I've cried for losing horses, but never for selling a horse for $2 million," Bester said.

"I bought her mother for NZ$200,000 in the sales ring in New Zealand and she has just been an absolute goldmine. She's a wonderful broodmare."

Heys surges for Vinnie filly

It was the highlight result of an amazing day for Yarraman Park's I Am Invincible with another of his fillies, Lot 421, selling for $1.4 million to Ellerslie Lodge/Bryce Heys.

Offered by Vinery Stud, who had a simply brilliant week to lead all vendors on average, she is the first foal of stakes-placed Miles Of Krishan (Snitzel), who is the half-sister to Group 1 winner Il Quello Veloce (NZ) (Captain Rio {GB}), from a family which includes Group 1-winning sprinters Terravista (Captain Rio {GB}) and Tiger Tees (Dubawi {Ire}).

Lot 421 - I Am Invincible x Miles Of Krishan (filly)

Miles Of Krishan was purchased for $500,000 by Vinery as a race filly at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in 2017 on behalf of client Patrick Hodgens and has since missed to Zoustar before getting in foal to that stallion again.

It was one of two million-dollar lots for Ellerslie Lodge, with Heys also paying $1 million for Lot 415, a colt by So You Think (NZ), offered by Segenhoe. He is out of Martilago (Encosta De Lago), a half-sister to Group 1 winner Charmont (High Chaparral {Ire}), who is a blood-sister to this colt.

Vinnie off to a flyer

The tone for I Am Invincible's incredible day was set very early on when Chris Waller and Guy Mulcaster joined with Hermitage Racing to buy the Lot 242, the second yearling of the day, out of G1 Blue Diamond S. winner Catchy (Fastnet Rock) for $1.2 million.

The filly was offered by Bhima Thoroughbreds on behalf of Robert and Sylvie Crabtree of Dorrington farm.

"It was fantastic to get that price. The team did a great job with her. She was bred by Robert and Sylvia Crabtree at Dorrington and the first foal of a very good mare," Bhima's Mike Fleming said.

"The biggest part of all that is that she goes to a great home, to see Guy Mulcaster buy her. You’d assume she goes to Chris Waller and that helps set the mare up for the rest of her breeding career. We couldn't be happier."

Mulcaster said the comparison to her star dam, who has since produced a Zoustar filly before visiting Too Darn Hot (GB), was clear.

“She is actually very similar to her mother and she’s just a lovely athlete. We liked the way she took the preparation," he said.

"We saw her up at Bhima about a month ago and they come here and take it all in their stride, that’s what you want, because the pressure goes on now getting broken in to become racehorses.

“We’re so lucky with the support of Hermitage. We picked out two beautiful I Am Invincible fillies and we managed to get the one yesterday in partnership and we got this one today."

Fillies to the fore

The fact that two of the top lots on the second day were fillies was no surprise to Inglis' General Manager Bloodstock Sales and Marketing, Sebastian Hutch.

"With fillies they are very much the gift that keeps on giving. You have the racing opportunities that the top-class fillies present, there are fillies that represent outstanding racing prospects, but subsequent to that, they have incredible value as breeding propositions. They are really hard to buy," he said.

"With fillies they are very much the gift that keeps on giving." - Sebastian Hutch

"We see time and time again, these quality race fillies breed Easter yearlings and we've seen a filly like Catchy, who was a $220,000 Easter yearling and Group 1 winner of a Blue Diamond, and now she is the mother of a million-dollar yearling.

"Robert Crabtree will feel the $220,000 he spent on her was one of the best investments he ever made."

Easter surges into rare air

Overall it was the best Easter Sale since 2008, with the average of $371,236, the median of $280,000 and the aggregate of $132 million the highest in 13 years.

After last year's Sale was forced in to a virtual format, it was a quite stunning return to full health by the Easter Sale, and something which understandably, Inglis is very pleased about.

Sebastian Hutch | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

"We wanted to try and put together what was fair and effectively a lucrative market for vendors and buyers to operate in and it’s hard to escape the conclusion at the end of the Sale that that has happened. It feels very healthy," Hutch said.

"Demand for stock at stages through the past two days has been effectively insatiable. I think it’s a reason for a lot of vendors to leave here very happy indeed. Buyers seems delighted. The variety of buyers involved is very positive. It's one of the major positives of the Sale. It’s hard not be anything other than delighted."

The 22 million-dollar yearlings purchased over the past two days were purchased by 17 different buyers.

Magnier connects with Vinnie colt

The other $1.4 million I Am Invincible yearling to sell on Wednesday was Lot 253, a colt out of Group 1 winner Cosmic Endeavour (Northern Meteor) from Kia Ora Stud which sold to Tom Magnier.

Cosmic Endeavour was raced by Don and Judy Kelly and delivered them an excellent result. Her first foal, L'Cosmo (Lonhro) is a winner, while she visited Too Darn Hot last year, having missed to I Am Invincible in 2019.

"It was a brilliant result. He was just a super colt. He's behaved so well all week and he's gone down really well. He's got a huge pedigree. The mare, herself, was outstanding, and we actually sold him on behalf of a client, Don and Judy Kelly. They raced the mare themselves and it’s a great result for them going forward," Kia Ora's Shane Wright said.

"He goes to the very best home in Coolmore. They pick out the very best that there is. We really believed he was up there, so best of luck to them going forward. He's got a huge pedigree. He's got a physical. He's got the temperament, all he needs now is success on the track and he’ll be a very valuable commodity."

The colt had caught the eye of the Coolmore team back on Kia Ora and they worked closely with Guy Mulcaster and Chris Waller to get the deal together on him.

"We saw this horse at Kia Ora. He was an out-and-outer from the start. Obviously, I Am invincible doesn't need any introduction, with what he is doing at the moment. We have had Home Affairs, and we have got a couple other horses we bought last year with Chris that have showed a lot of promise," Magnier said.

"It gives you the confidence to come back and buy them. He is a lovely type. Chris Waller, Guy and the whole team really like this horse. It gave us the confidence to go and get him."

Kia Ora's double million day

Kia Ora was the also the source of another seven-figure yearling for Coolmore, with Magnier and Bester paying $1 million for Lot 283, a colt by Written Tycoon out Dream Play (USA) (Hennessey {USA}), making him a half-brother to Group 2 winner and Grenville Stud stallion Zululand.

The colt was bought in partnership with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

“I have a particular affinity with this horse because I bought the mother in America for Ananda Krishnan and Kia Ora and then I bought a horse in the pedigree called Chicago Bull," Coolmore consultant Bester said.

“I have a particular affinity with this horse (Lot 283) because I bought the mother in America for Ananda Krishnan and Kia Ora." - James Bester

"Coolmore bought Zululand for $1.5 million, the first foal, so it is a family I know well. It is a family that produces 2-year-olds and Gai knows how to train them, so we’re delighted to get him.

“Written Tycoon has jumped out of the ground as a sire in the past 12 months and his son Capitalist is following in his footsteps as the hottest young first-season sire, so that gives us a lot of confidence when we’re buying potential stallions at this stage.

“All he has to do is the job and he’ll be a stallion at stud. He is a very good-looking animal and a very mature animal and fast-looking."

Lot 283 - Written Tycoon x Dream Play (USA) (colt) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Rosemont backs in strong family

Rosemont Stud also paid a seven-figure amount for a daughter of I Am Invincible, with Lot 333, from Glenlogan Park, a half-sister to a filly secured stakes success with in Thrillstar (Starspangledbanner).

"We thought she was the filly of the Sale. I don’t rate myself any key judge, there were some very smart buyers who had her highly rated," Rosemont's Anthony Mithen said.

"I thought she'd make $1.5 million and perhaps close to the $2 million and we wouldn't own her. We were tapped out, that was our maximum, but it was nice to secure her."

Mithen said Rosemont are already heavily invested in that family, with Thrillster having already begun her broodmare career.

"I can't wait to meet Thrillster's I Am Invincible filly or colt, who is due in August and I'm hoping that foal might be able to pay for that filly," he said.

Lot 333 - I Am Invincible x Heart Of Thrills (filly) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Williams' million-dollar colt

The other I Am Invincible colt to go to the $1 million mark was Lot 245, out of the well-related mare Caveat (Elusive Quality {USA}), offered by Coolmore. He was purchased by Andrew Williams Bloodstock.

"We put this horse in the bracket as one of the top colts of the Sale. He scoped and vetted well and that’s one of the hoops you have to jump through and he was very clean," Williams said.

“He’s a lovely, athletic horse who walks so well. We saw him at the farm quite a few weeks ago and then two weeks ago and we identified him as one of the horses to target."

Williams ended up buying five lots across the two days, but admitted the hot market made it hard to get a bid in.

“Like anything, you’re trying to put together these groups to try and buy these horses and it’s frustrating walking in to the ring and seeing four or five people bidding on that horse over $500,000," he said.

"They were coming from everywhere. It is always a good boost when you know you’re in good company with some good judges on him."

I Am Invincible ended with the highest aggregate of all stallions, with $25.235 million across 41 sales at an average of $615,488. Snitzel's 33 yearlings sold for $18.495 million and an average of $560,455.

Exceed And Excel led the averages of all stallions with his five sold for $984,000 apiece.

Zoustar soars to a new level

While I Am Invincible snared the headlines, it was also a record-breaking day for Widden Stud's champion stallion Zoustar, who twice had his best-ever yearling price bettered on the day.

Widden Stud offered Lot 377, a colt out of Lady Jivago (Beneteau), and his headed to Matt Laurie's stables in Victoria for $1.25 million.

Lady Jivago was a Group 3 winner on the track who cost Widden and its clients $420,000 as broodmare prospect back in 2018 and she delivered a terrific return with her first yearling.

"This horse in my mind was such a stunning horse. We’ve had 20 x-ray hits, he kept coming out 40 and 50 times every day and never turned a hair," Widden Stud Principal Antony Thompson said.

"He (Lot 377) kept coming out 40 and 50 times every day and never turned a hair." - Antony Thompson

"I'm really flattered, to have Chris Waller and those guys as the underbidders, Chris knows Zoustar, having trained both him and Zousain. It was a really exciting moment and a big thrill."

He was the second seven-figure yearling for Zoustar for the day after Peter Moody paid $1.15 million for Lot 306, a colt offered by Segenhoe Stud on behalf of Fairway Thoroughbreds.

He was out of the multiple juvenile stakes winner Fireworks (Snitzel), who is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Calveen (Canny Lad).

Lot 306 - Zoustar x Fireworks (colt) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Moody purchased the colt on behalf of a syndicate that involved the Victorian Alliance, which has purchased 11 other colts this sales season, with Suman Hedge Blodostock and David Redvers Bloodstock on the docket as well.

“The stable is having a bit of luck with Zoustar at the moment. He’s a wonderful stallion and he’s out of a young stakes-performed mare with a lovely page. He’s a lovely horse. I paid more than I probably should have and more than I wanted to, but that’s the market," Moody said.

“He is a cracking colt. He had a great head and shoulder on him, a deep girth, everything you want to see in a horse. He had plenty of strength behind the saddle and we’ve been having a little bit of luck with Zoustar. He is a hell of a stallion and he looks like a nice running colt."

Peter Moody | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

All in all, Zoustar had 23 lots sell for the Sale, for an aggregate of $9.345 million and an average of $406,304.

"There was a lovely lot of Zoustars here at the Sale. Obviously, these are the Zoustars bred off the back of him being champion first-season sire. They have sold so well," Thompson said.

"He has really proper yearlings as well as foals and mares in foal to come. He is always going to be a very, very important stallion for us and a big sire for Australia. When you look at the quality of these horses coming through, it gives us so much confidence and so much excitement."

Redoute's filly makes history

Moody is a man who is known to appreciate history and he created a bit of his own by buying the final Redoute's Choice yearling, Lot 418, the filly from Fernrigg Farm, in partnership with Tasman Bloodstock.

Bidding on behalf of long-time clients, Ron and Judy Wanless, Moody paid $760,000 for the filly, who is out of the Grade 2-winning South African mare Mella Maria (Star Witness).

"We didn't buy her for that reason, obviously, but she was a bloody nice filly and Mrs Wanless was very keen to buy a filly at the sales," he said.

"I trained the grandam, Sayahailmary, and Redoute's has been a hell of a stallion. She actually looks a bit more precocious than your typical Redoute's, she might go a bit earlier, not that the owners promote the running of their 2-year-old unless they are ready to do it."

The Wanlesses owned Moody's first-ever Group 1 winner Amalfi (Carnegie {Ire}) and saw the potential of this filly as a future broodmare in time.

"They are not making any more of them. Mrs Wanless likes to breed as well as race, at the end of their racing career, and a filly by Redoute's out of a stakes-performed family, hopefully, I can get it right on the training side of things, and she can go on be a broodmare and years to come," he said.

It was a benchmark result for Fernrigg Farm's Padraig and Rae-Louise Kelly.

“This was way over the reserve. We own the mare and I am freaking out now. It’s a personal-best for us and to own her ourselves is quite something," Rae-Louise said.

“We knew Peter liked her and we were praying she’d end up in the right stable and we obviously own the mare and she has a Fastnet Rock to sell next year and she’s a running type of filly, and I know Peter’s going to give her every chance.

“The results on the racetrack and to finish the year at Easter, I don’t know whether it gets any better.”

The filly was one of five Redoute's Choices to sell on Wednesday, with the final colt, Lot 410, offered by the legendary late stallion's former home at Arrowfield, purchased by Chris Waller/Mulcaster Bloodstock for $400,000.

Arrowfield and Vinery take vendors honours

The honour for the highest grossing vendors of the Sale again went to Arrowfield, who sold 44 yearlings for a total of $21.85 million.

Vinery Stud had a brilliant Sale with 16 sold at an average of $650,625, the best of any vendor, with Kia Ora Stud second, with 11 sold at an average of $586,364.

The top buyer for the Sale was Tony Fung Investments on $7.02 million across eight purchases, the same as Hawkes Racing, who spent $5.4 million. Gai Waterhouse, Adrian Bott and Kestrel Thoroughbreds were the most prolific buyers with 11 purchases.

Top lots

45SnitzelRising RomanceColtArrowfield Stud, SconeHawkes Racing NSW$2,500,000
5Exceed And ExcelPeace ForceColtVinery Stud, SconeTony Fung Investments QLD$2,100,000
340I Am InvincibleHips Don't Lie FillyCoolmore Stud, Jerrys PlainsSheamus Mills Bloodstock Pty Ltd VIC$1,950,000
253I Am InvincibleCosmic EndeavourColtKia Ora Stud, SconeT Magnier NSW$1,400,000
421I Am InvincibleMiles Of KrishanFillyVinery Stud, SconeEllerslie Lodge / B Heys NSW$1,400,000
149I Am InvincibleVezalayFillyWidden Stud, Widden ValleyHermitage / Coolmore NSW$1,250,000
377ZoustarLady JivagoColtWidden Stud, Widden ValleyMatt Laurie Racing VIC$1,250,000
227SnitzelBulbulaColtYarraman Park Stud, SconeRosemont Victorian Alliance / Suman Hedge Bloodstock (FBAA) / David Redvers Bloodstock VIC$1,200,000
242I Am InvincibleCatchyFillyBhima Thoroughbreds, SconeChris Waller Racing / Hermitage NSW$1,200,000
333I Am InvincibleHeart Of ThrillsFillyGlenlogan Park, Innisplain, QldRosemont Stud VIC$1,200,000

Top buyers

Tony Fung InvestmentsQLD8$7,020,000$877,500$2,100,000
Hawkes RacingNSW8$5,400,000$675,000$2,500,000
T MagnierNSW5$5,100,000$1,020,000$1,400,000
Dean Hawthorne BloodstockNEW ZEALAND6$4,180,000$696,667$1,050,000
Ciaron Maher BloodstockVIC8$3,560,000$445,000$1,150,000
G Waterhouse / A Bott / Kestrel ThoroughbredsNSW11$3,310,000$300,909$480,000
James Harron Bloodstock Pty LtdNSW4$3,135,000$783,750$1,100,000
Annabel Neasham Racing / B McGuireNSW5$2,920,000$584,000$800,000
IRON / George Moore BloodstockNSW7$2,785,000$397,857$620,000
Chris Waller Racing / Mulcaster BloodstockNSW7$2,750,000$392,857$650,000

Top vendors by aggregate

Arrowfield Stud, Scone44$21,850,000$496,591$2,500,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerrys Plains31$12,010,000$387,419$1,950,000
Vinery Stud, Scone16$10,410,000$650,625$2,100,000
Yarraman Park Stud, Scone21$9,690,000$461,429$1,200,000
Widden Stud, Widden Valley22$7,720,000$350,909$1,250,000
Segenhoe Stud Australia Pty Ltd, Scone17$7,690,000$452,353$1,150,000
Sledmere Stud, Scone19$6,755,000$355,526$950,000
Bhima Thoroughbreds, Scone14$6,480,000$462,857$1,200,000
Kia Ora Stud, Scone11$6,450,000$586,364$1,400,000
Newgate Farm, Aberdeen17$4,605,000$270,882$725,000

Top vendors by average (three or more sold)

Vinery Stud, Scone16$650,625$10,410,000$2,100,000$422,500
Kia Ora Stud, Scone11$586,364$6,450,000$1,400,000$500,000
Arrowfield Stud, Scone44$496,591$21,850,000$2,500,000$410,000
Bhima Thoroughbreds, Scone14$462,857$6,480,000$1,200,000$425,000
Yarraman Park Stud, Scone21$461,429$9,690,000$1,200,000$400,000
Segenhoe Stud Australia Pty Ltd, Scone17$452,353$7,690,000$1,150,000$350,000
Tyreel Stud, Agnes Banks5$446,000$2,230,000$800,000$350,000
Cressfield, Scone8$395,625$3,165,000$750,000$440,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerrys Plains31$387,419$12,010,000$1,950,000$280,000
Evergreen Stud Farm, Heatherbrae4$360,000$1,440,000$650,000$330,000

Top sires by aggregate

I Am Invincible41$25,235,000$615,488$1,950,000
Fastnet Rock14$6,160,000$440,000$1,100,000
Written Tycoon14$5,630,000$402,143$1,100,000
Not A Single Doubt10$5,380,000$538,000$1,000,000
Exceed And Excel5$4,920,000$984,000$2,100,000
So You Think 13$4,480,000$344,615$1,000,000
American Pharoah 15$3,655,000$243,667$650,000

Top sires by average (three or more sold)

Exceed And Excel5$984,000$4,920,000$2,100,000
I Am Invincible41$615,488$25,235,000$1,950,000
Deep Impact 3$583,333$1,750,000$900,000
Not A Single Doubt10$538,000$5,380,000$1,000,000
Fastnet Rock14$440,000$6,160,000$1,100,000
Redoute's Choice6$430,833$2,585,000$800,000
Written Tycoon14$402,143$5,630,000$1,100,000