Magic(al) Millions for Avenue

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Big thank you to Bren O’Brien of TDN Australia/New Zealand for the wonderful article on our trip to 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in the Friday (10/01/2020) edition of the TDN.

“McStay, a successful Group 1 owner and breeder in his own right and formerly Godolphin’s bloodstock manager for 15 years, formed Avenue Bloodstock three years ago with former Godolphin chief executive John Ferguson.

While Avenue Bloodstock purchased two mares through the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in 2018, this is the first time they have stepped into the Australian yearling market, forming an alliance with Sadler to buy colts by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), as well as first-season pair Winning Rupert and Shalaa(Ire)., and then a filly by triple Australian champion Snitzel.

“The opportunity came up through an owner who was a family friend of mine. He was here buying some horses for John and he asked me to give him a list and John to do the same. Then we worked together to figure out the ones we’d like to go on,” McStay said.

The globetrotting bloodstock agent and the wizened Victorian horseman make for an interesting combination, especially when a Hong Kong-based owner is thrown in the mix, but such a cosmopolitan mix is becoming de rigueur in the Australian industry these days.

“He’s a nice man and a good trainer and hopefully they’ll be lucky for him.” – Mark McStay

“The Hong Kong based client will race the horses in Australia and hopefully they will be lucky. He’s a good guy and is very invested in the game.”

Stepping up Australian focus

Avenue Bloodstock’s previous involvement in Australia, apart from those mares purchased in 2018, has been securing tried horses from Europe for the likes of Chris Waller and Bjorn Baker.

They include Finche (GB) (Frankel {GB}), who ran fourth in the 2018 Melbourne Cup and seventh last year for Chris Waller.

“We are pretty active in the form horses market and we are working towards establishing ourselves in the yearling trade here,” Irish-born McStay said.

“We are always open for business and for new clients and maybe because we don’t have a big book of clients, people might approach us and ask us to pick out some yearlings. But definitely I envisage us being a lot more active in the Southern Hemisphere in the next few years.”

“It’s a great market. Racing in Australia is very vibrant and very healthy and you would be stupid not to get involved.”

Rare offering with global appeal

With just two lots by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) in the book, the rising Japanese star’s progeny were always going to attract plenty attention. Lot 242, a colt from Arrowfield, boasted international bloodlines on both sides of her page and was secured by Avenue Bloodstock and Sadler for $650,000 on the first day of the sale.

“When I did my catalogue over Christmas and I was looking through the pedigrees, he was obviously one that stood out on paper,” he said.

“The sire is an international sire and he is one of the world’s emerging super sires. He’s sired the likes of Almond Eye. He’s achieved three Group 1 winners in a very short space of time and plenty of other really good horses.”

“The sire is an international sire and he is one of the world’s emerging super sires.” – Mark McStay

“When I saw the horse in the flesh, he didn’t disappoint. He was a nice, clever colt. He had a very good outlook and he had a good mind. He was very well presented by Arrowfield.”

The colt is out of Dimenticata (Ire) (Danetime {Ire}), who was a stakes winner and Group 1 placed in Ireland before being purchased by Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm for £280,000 at the 2008 Tattersalls December Mares Sale.

She was covered by Lord Kanaloa in 2017 then sent to Australia as part of the partnership between Arrowfield and Northern Farm to foal down this colt.

“I remember his dam racing in Ireland and she was very tough and hardy. She was trained by Kevin Prendergast,” McStay said. “We had to dig deep for this colt but John loved the horse.”

Happy to punt on first season pair

The pair also went to $200,000 for a colt by Winning Rupert out of Demanding Queen (Commands), who hails from the family of New Zealand Group 1 winners Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi {GB}) and Champagne (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}).

“I hadn’t seen too many Winning Ruperts to be perfectly honest and John Sadler was particularly keen on the horse. He felt he was a horse that he could get on with and train,” McStay said.

“He asked me to go look at him and I did and I thought he was a nice straight-forward horse. Again, he showed good attitude and good outlook. He looked sharp, he had good quarters, he looked racey, like a 2-year-old. He might even be one to come back here and run in the race next year.”

He might have only been on the ground for a couple of days, but McStay is already talking like a local.

On Day 2, Avenue and Sadler again landed on another son of a first season sire, in this case paying $600,000 for a colt by Arrowfield’s Shalaa (Ire).

He was out of Jemison (Commands), making him a half-brother to multiple Hong Kong Group 1 winner Contentment (Hussonet {USA}).

“He was a very nice horse and is a half-brother to a very good horse in Hong Kong and basically John Sadler liked him. He was a standout,” McStay said.

“I did not envisage him making that much, but thankfully our client is very brave and he looks like he is a runner. I bought a Shalaa in the Northern Hemisphere for Hugo Palmer and I am a fan of the sire. I think with the success of I Am Invincible in Australia I really think he is a first-season sire that can make an impact out here. He was a lovely horse, well-presented by Arrowfield and we were happy to get him.”

“I don’t really see any difference between the Shalaas here and in the Northern Hemisphere, they are very consistent. They have a lot of quality and a lot of strength, they perhaps have a bit more scope than you get in your normal Invincible Spirits, which is probably not a bad thing. The sire line is on fire, you only have to look at the exploits of Kingman. I think as a bunch in both hemispheres they are a lovely bunch of athletes and I think he has a chance of making it as a leading first season sire next year.”

Sadler and Avenue Bloodstock also purchased a filly by Snitzel out of Group 3 winner Let’s Make Adeal (Red Ransom {USA}) for $200,000. That makes her a great grand daughter of Melbourne Cup heroine Let’s Elope (Nassipour {USA}).”

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