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The rise and rise of Yulong as a major player in the Australian bloodstock market continues unabated. Progress in 2020 can be measured by the strong showing at January’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, Gr.1 success for Mr Zhang’s green, white checked sleeves both domestically and in Europe, and the continued development at its three Victorian properties to accommodate a growing broodmare band and an evolving stallion roster. Yulong’s Chief Operating Officer, Sam Fairgray, provided an insight into Yulong’s direction and what buyers can expect from their 2021 Magic Millions draft.
From an outsider’s perspective watching the birth and growth of Yulong has made a refreshing change. It is clear Mr Zhang hasn’t fallen into the trap of ignoring the economics of running a Thoroughbred business in Australia, which has often been a problem for new players in years past. No, here there is a clear plan for expansion built on success, success like the victories of Yulong Prince (Gimmethegreenlight) in the Gr.1 Cantala Stakes and Lucky Vega (Lope De Vega) in the Gr.1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, with both horses sure to be added to the burgeoning Yulong stallion roster in the coming seasons.
As Chief Operating Officer Sam Fairgray is tasked with steering the business on its current course. “Yulong is growing and expanding at quite a quick rate. The business currently owns 200 broodmares and with the establishment of the stallion facility this year we stood two stallions in Grunt (O’Reilly) and Alabama Express (Redoute’s Choice). In the years ahead it could be up to ten to twelve stallions. We want to be a leading commercial operation and offer the market the progeny of those mares and stallions, so by placing some of our best yearlings at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale it gives us the opportunity to showcase the quality of horse that carries the Yulong brand. It also provides a further opportunity to show the industry what Yulong is trying to achieve in becoming one of its leading farms.” Asked what the attraction was to selling on the Gold Coast, Fairgray answered “Magic Millions is a sale that has grown rapidly in the last seven to eight years along with international participation. This year looks different without international buyers on the ground, but through their agents I’m sure they will continue to buy.”
Looking at the 21 strong Yulong draft for January, buyers won’t be left short of options. “We have tried to target forward, mature sort of horses, largely two-year-old types, but we’ve got a nice mix in the draft including a couple of Savabeels and also a couple of Frankels. Although, in the past, Magic Millions has been predominantly focussed on two-year-old speed, now with staying races on the card at the annual raceday there are targets and opportunities for a broader spectrum of horses. A good type will always sell well at Magic Millions, whether they are a two-year-old sort or a horse that looks like it may mature into a three-year-old.”
Discussing Yulong’s philosophy with regards preparation for sale Fairgray explained, “With our horses it is very much about getting the breeding right, rearing them and giving them the best possible chance of growing and developing while educating them during that process as well. Once they are weaned they come through the stables for at least a week every two months where they will go on the horse walker, are rugged, boxed for four or five days, all to get them into a routine so that when they come in for their yearling prep and at the sales, they are already relaxed and in that groove. It follows that when they enter the trainer’s stable for the first time, they learn to accept things a lot easier and I think that sort of experience certainly makes a difference.”
In what is an exceptionally strong catalogue even by Magic Millions’ standards Yulong will offer one of the stand-out colts of the sale. Lot 284 is a cracking sort by I Am Invincible out of Hussonet’s daughter Extremely making him a half-brother to six winners including Extreme Choice. Blessed with blistering speed Extreme Choice won the Gr.1 Blue Diamond Stakes at two and came back at three to win the Gr.1 A J Moir Stakes at weight-for-age before taking up stud duties. Sam said of the colt “He’s a sharp, athletic type with a good sensible head. We expect he will be extremely popular with buyers.”
Yulong will also offer four lots by four-time Champion Australia Sire Snitzel headed by Lot 358, a filly out of the former top sprinting mare Gregers. “She has a lot of Snitzel about her, looks very fast and looks the kind of filly that will be up and going pretty quickly”, said Fairgray. For her part Gregers won the Gr.2 Thousand Guineas Prelude, was Gr.1 placed on three occasions and is a daughter of noted broodmare sire Commands. Yulong will also offer a Snitzel filly out of Shoot The Breeze, an All American half-sister to I Am Invincible, as Lot 788.
Continuing the theme of stock by Champion sires the Yulong draft contains a pair of fillies by Exceed And Excel. Lot 148 is out of General Nediym’s daughter Cerberus Girl, three times Group placed and the dam of the Gr.3 winner as a two-year-old in Irukandji (Dundeel). The other filly sells as Lot 102 and is out of the O’Reilly mare Birdy O’Reilly who is a granddaughter that tremendous producer Parfore (Gold Brose). Parfore is renowned as the dam of prolific sprinters Tiger Tees (Dubawi) and Terravista (Captain Rio), both Gr.1 winners, the multiple Gr.2 winner Ball Of Muscle (Dubawi) and the Listed winners Super Easy (Darci Brahma) and Our Lukas (Generous). “These are two very nice Exceed And Excel fillies, both lovely types that will be very popular at the sale”, Sam advised.
Any agent with an order for a more Classic type of horse would do well to inspect Lots 129 and 642, yearlings by six-time Champion Sire in New Zealand in Savabeel. Lot 129 is out of Encosta De Lago’s daughter Cajou making him a half-brother to the Gr.3 winning, Gr.1 placed stayer Allergic (Street Cry) while 642’s dam Pikari Star (Choisir) add some speed to the pedigree given she won over 875 metres and is a half-sister to Stop Making Sense (Sebring) who was Gr.3 placed over 1200 metres.
The three hottest young stallions in Europe at present would be Frankel, Kingman and Siyouni, and the trio will all have stock selling under the Yulong banner come January. Sam explained “Mr Zhang follows international racing very closely. He loves Frankel having seen him race and has sent mares to him for the past three years. The decision was made to have Frankel serve some of Mr Zhang’s European based mares to Southern Hemisphere time. We identified Kingman as a likely progressive stallion and Siyouni was already established and we felt that the resulting progeny of these coverings would be accepted by the Australasian buying bench. It is great to have that international flavour scattered through a draft with most of the leading local stallions represented. We are very lucky in that of the 21 yearlings we will present 20 are by established stallions and the other is by Capitalist who has made a tremendous start to his career as a sire. Given that the Bloodstock market has become so global in recent years I think it is fantastic that international buyers can look at our horses by stallions like Frankel, Kingman and Siyouni and be comfortable knowing what they can offer.”
Siyouni’s reputation in the Northern Hemisphere continues to blossom and just last October his sons Sottsass and St Mark’s Basilica won Europe’s premier weight-for-age race in the Gr.1 l’Arc de Triomphe and leading juvenile race, The Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes, respectively. From just a handful of runners in Australia he is the sire of the Gr.2 winner as a juvenile in Aylmerton and buyers get an opportunity to tap into his genes through Lot 610, a stunning filly out of Ocean Drive by Sea The Stars. Twice a winner over middle-distance trips and a half-sister to three Stakes winners, Ocean Drive comes from the family of Josr Algarhoud (Darshaan), a leading juvenile of his day. Similarly, Champion miler Kingman has made a tremendous start to his career siring a handful of Gr.1 winners from three crops of racing age. His filly that sells as Lot 686 is out of Rayaa (Virtual) a winner at two and from the family of the Gr.1 winners and successful sires Bahri and Bahhare.
Frankel is now clearly established as one of the world’s best sires, and is starting to make his presence felt in Australia. It was only this past Spring where, in the space of two hours, two margins of a head denied the son of Galileo three Australian Gr.1 winners in an afternoon, Mirage Dancer winning the Gr.1 The Metropolitan and Finche in the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes and the Yulong owned Hungry Heart in the Gr.1 Flight Stakes beaten by a head each. The Yulong draft includes a colt to sell as Lot 278 out of Evening Rose, a Street Cry daughter of Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks winner Bramble Rose and Lot 339, the first foal of the Shamardal mare Ghadaayer who was twice a winner at two and out of Eldalil (Singspiel) who was runner up in the Gr.2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
It says much about the quality of the Yulong draft that we haven’t touched on the superb youngsters by Pierro, Sebring, Capitalist, Zoustar and So You Think all to be offered on the Gold Coast. But then again, that is just another example of how far Yulong has come in its short existence.