Inglis Classic Yearling Sale: six things we learnt on Day 1

12 min read
With the first day of trade completed at Riverside for the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, key metrics remained relatively steady as the auctioneer's hammer fell on Sunday.

Cover image courtesy of Inglis

At A Glance

With the integration of Book 2 (the Highway session) into a single book sale this year, a direct comparison of metrics is difficult. Day 1 saw 197 lots sold for an aggregate of $18,701,000, a decrease on 2023, which grossed $23,616,500 (204 lots). The clearance rate lifted from 81 per cent to 83 per cent.

The average sits at $94,929 compared to $115,767 recorded at the end of the opening session 12 months ago, although this is up from the 2023 final combined sale average of $93,877.

The median dropped $10,000 on last year, having been recorded at the end of the action on Sunday as $80,000.

A Street Boss commanded the highest price, attracting a winning bid of $375,000 from Hong Kong-based trainer Ricky Yiu.

Domeland Racing led the buyers with six lots at a total spend of $650,000. Mick Price Racing and Breeding occupied second spot in this section, just as they did in 2023, purchasing four lots at a total outlay of $520,000.

Topping the sire statistics by aggregate (with three or more sold) was Capitalist, who had eight yearlings sell for an aggregate of $969,000 at an average of $121,125. By average, first-season sire sensation Wootton Bassett came out on top, with three of his yearlings selling at an average of $160,000.

#1. Buyers show no hesitation in the early stanza

It was a hot start to selling on Day 1, despite the integration of Book 1 and the Highway session, with a streak of 17 consecutive lots being sold through the ring before the hammer failed to come down.

Market conditions appeared to be very similar to 2023, with Sunday’s average $1000 higher than the $93,877 combined full sale average last year.

The top-end dipped slightly on year-on-year comparisons, with the top 10 lots across the first day of trade in 2023 averaging $383,000 compared to $265,500 on Sunday. However it’s important to note that Day 1 last year delivered the three highest-priced yearlings of the entire sale.

199Street BossDance CardColtBhima Thoroughbreds, SconeR Yiu, HONG KONG$375,000
138Extreme ChoiceBriskColtThe Chase, Sutton ForestM G Price Racing & Breeding / Upper Bloodstock, VIC$320,000
238ToronadoEclatColtLime Country Thoroughbreds, BlandfordMagus Equine Ltd, HONG KONG$300,000
253CapitalistExabelleColtSledmere Stud, SconeAstute Bloodstock (FBAA), NSW$260,000
81Alabama ExpressAnyanaColtVinery Stud, SconeBallymore Stables / Paul Moroney Bloodstock / C Bruggeman, VIC$240,000
193Star TurnCrystal RockColtLustre Lodge, AlisonDream Thoroughbreds / Bluegrass Bloodstock (FBAA) / Pride Racing, VIC$240,000
243CapitalistEmbroidered SilkColtBhima Thoroughbreds, SconeScone Bloodstock Services Pty Ltd, HONG KONG$240,000
250Wootton BassettEscape ArtistFillyKia Ora Stud, SconeProven Thoroughbred / O'Dea Hoysted Racing, NSW$240,000
2Too Darn HotValencayFillySledmere Stud, SconeLees Racing / Bahen Bloodstock Ltd, NSW$220,000
156Cosmic ForceCash FirstFillyGlenn Lee Thoroughbreds, Meroo MeadowYes Bloodstock Pty Ltd, NSW$220,000

Table: Day 1's top 10 lots

“If you told me that at the end of today we would have an average of $95,000, a median of $80,000 and a clearance rate of 82 per cent I think we would all have been very pleased,” Inglis Bloodstock Chief Executive Officer, Sebastian Hutch, told The Thoroughbred Report.

“I think there are different perceptions of how the evolution of the sale (integrating the Highway session into Book 1) has affected different parts of the market. I genuinely do feel it's a sale that every participant looks to engage with. Whether they buy or not is another matter.

“We facilitate the market, we don’t set it. We want to be able to walk away from the sale feeling like we’ve facilitated plenty of money in the market, and we want to be able to say that we’ve helped facilitate a good clearance rate.

“We facilitate the market, we don’t set it. We want to be able to walk away from the sale feeling like we’ve facilitated plenty of money in the market, and we want to be able to say that we’ve helped facilitate a good clearance rate.” - Sebastian Hutch

“Everybody was here, through inspections we had major representatives from every facet of the market and I think that creates competition and confidence.”

Hong Kong buyers were especially busy at the upper end of the market on Sunday, accounting for three of the 10 most expensive lots to be knocked down across the day. The sale coincided with Chinese New Year, which Hutch explained provided a unique potential challenge leading into selling commencing.

Sebastian Hutch | Image courtesy of Inglis

“We worked with plenty of people on it and to have investment by the Asian-based buyers as strong as it has been to this point in the sale is fantastic.

“It stands to reason that it's a sale they would approach with a fair degree of vigour.

“The Classic Sale has produced the winners of each of the 4-year-old series races last year, the (G1) Classic Mile, the (G1) Classic Cup and the G1 (Hong Kong) Derby. It’s been a good sale for people in Hong Kong, and I think it suits their price point.”

#2. Young sires attract plenty of interest throughout the day

Having crossed the halfway mark of the 2023/24 racing season, unsurprisingly, those stallions with their first crop of 2-year-olds running well have been rewarded with plenty of interest from buyers on Day 1.

Too Darn Hot (GB) was a consistent presence throughout the day, as buyers try to find themselves a runner in the mould of some of his early types Too Darn Lizzie and Arabian Summer. Five of his second Southern Hemisphere crop sold on Day 1, grossing $710,000 at an average of $142,000, 67 per cent higher than the average price paid across the day for all stallions.

Another stallion that has made a cracking start is Cosmic Force, with his forward types like Stay Focused not going unnoticed at Riverside. He had four sell on Day 1 at an average of $120,000, and tied Too Darn Hot with a top price of $220,000.

Both were eclipsed for the highest price paid by Alabama Express, who had his sole offering (Lot 81) reach $240,000, with Paul Moroney investing in the stallion that he himself bought at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale for $280,000.

#3. Syndicators happy to buy at both ends of the market

Syndication companies were particularly active on Sunday, with a number of well-known operations striking at the top - and at the bottom - in terms of price.

Proven Thoroughbreds found themselves propelled into the top-echelon of buyers on the first day of trade when they went to $240,000 to take home Lot 250, a filly by the coveted Wootton Bassett (GB).

Lot 250 - Wootton Bassett (GB) x Escape Artist (filly) was purchased by Proven Thoroughbred / O'Dea Hoysted Racing for $240,000 from Kia Ora Stud at the 2024 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale | Image courtesy of Inglis

Jamie Walter, owner of Proven Thoroughbreds, spoke to The Thoroughbred Report following the hammer coming down in his favour, explained some of the market conditions he is faced with trying to secure a price his clients will be happy to pay.

“Every sale you go to, the nice ones are hard to buy.

“Very, very occasionally, something that you are absolutely in love with, slips under the radar really cheaply.

Jamie Walter and Joe Pride | Image courtesy of Inglis

“So you sort of reconcile that paying a decent price when an attractive horse, especially at a sale like this. We’ve had a lot of luck at this sale, it’s a great sale for finding good quality gallopers.”

It wasn’t just Proven that were active in finding six-figure lots across Sunday, as a rapid-fire bidding session spurred on buyers to be engaged with the bidspotters.

Prime Thoroughbreds were busy, buying two lots for a gross total of $340,000, while Star Thoroughbreds (in collaboration with Randwick Bloodstock Agency {FBAA}) spent $255,000 on two lots for themselves.

First Light Racing picked up a daughter of Wootton Bassett (who was a hot commodity for syndicators on Sunday) for $140,000.

At the other end of market, Patriot Bloodstock combined with Wattle Bloodstock (FBAA), picked up a colt by Yes Yes Yes (catalogued as Lot 118) and a filly by Graff (catalogued as Lot 161) for $20,000 each.

#4. Volume vendors meet the market

With cautious optimism being the general ambiance from vendors around Riverside during inspections, there was a level of intrigue as to how reserves would be set, and deals would be done back at the barns once selling commenced.

Some of the most well-represented vendors by way of quantity were able to strike an equilibrium of shifting stock and meeting the market, with a number of the biggest drafts enjoying 100 per cent clearance rates on the opening day of selling.

The Alma Vale/Kitchwin Hills Partnership sold a perfect eight from eight on Day 1, going at an average of $67,375. Bhima Thoroughbreds cleared six from six at an impressive average of $179,167.

Newhaven Park were in a similar groove, in tandem with their freshman stallion Cool Aza Beel (NZ), striking seven transactions from seven to enter the ring, at an average going rate of $43,214.

Following selling ceasing, Hutch spoke of the process of vendors meeting the market, and finding the right balance of expectation.

“We wouldn’t have had to explain anything to anybody that’s participated in the first two yearling sales of the year. They (vendors) know that the market is more selective than what it has been.

“I felt like the clearance rate through the ring was reasonably good, compared to how it felt it’s been in the first couple of yearling sales. Those two sales have ended up with good clearance rates, and I think we’ll end up with a clearance rate better than where we sit now (83 per cent), which is great.

“I think we’ll end up with a clearance rate better than where we sit now, which is great.” - Sebastian Hutch

“We knew we had to have a huge buying base engaged with the sales to help achieve that clearance rate.”

#5. Western Australian buyers busy on Day 1

One notable point to come out of the buyers bench was the level of intent from Western Australian buyers on Day 1, with 10 lots knocked down to names from the other side of the Nullabor.

Incredibly, that eclipses the amount sent west across the entire sale some 12 months ago, with eight lots being listed as being bought in 2023 across the three days of trade (although the actual number is nine, as Damon Gabeddy’s Belmont Bloodstock {FBAA} purchased an Ocean Park {NZ} colt for leviathan owner-breeder Bob Peters for $460,000).

It was a diverse mix of buyers as well. Grant and Alana Williams, who are never far away from the upper-echelon of the Western Australian training ranks, purchased two lots; a colt by Written Tycoon (Lot 119) for $170,000 and a colt by Spirit Of Boom (Lot 124) for $90,000.

Gallery: Some of the purchases on Day 1 of the 2024 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale who will head to Western Australian stables, images courtesy of Inglis

Fourth generation horseman Luke Fernie went to $210,000 to secure a colt (Lot 248) by arguably the hottest young stallion in the world, Justify (USA), with the purchase price being the highest he has paid so far for a yearling.

Popular personality in the Western Australian training ranks, Simon Miller, also appeared twice on the buyers sheet on Sunday, highlighted by a filly by Astern (Lot 127) for $75,000.

There was a sentimental purchase for Jeremy Easthope, picking up a colt by Winning Rupert for $36,000 (Lot 208), a half-brother to his stable star Upper Limits (Exopshere), who has provided the emerging trainer his biggest career success to date.

#6. Auctioneers show the need for speed

One element of Sunday’s trade that caught the eye was the speed of selling, with the final lot being sold well shy of 5pm AEDT.

With such a large catalogue (270 lots, prior to withdrawals), there was speculation the final lot would be offered in the absence of the sun, but the auctioneers were certainly not afraid to get through their day's work in an efficient manner.

“We talk about it (the pace of an auction) a lot,” Hutch said. “We have a very professional group of auctioneers, they’re very conscious of steps that they can take to improve the sale process all the time.

“We have a very professional group of auctioneers, they’re very conscious of steps that they can take to improve the sale process all the time.” - Sebastian Hutch

“It’s something that they were very confident they could achieve, they drove it themselves, it was something that they wanted to do. We’ll come out of today and come out of the sale and identify areas for improvement again, but I feel like the system and the group is operating to a high level.

“It helps generate a positive experience for buyers and hopefully the optimum results for vendors.

“It’s not an unreasonable expectation that people come to an auction house and realise that if you want to buy a horse, you need to bid.

“I think I’d find it hard to defend a position where someone felt that they didn’t have time to bid. We have a fantastic auditorium, loads of bidspotters, if you want to get a bid in, nobody’s going to miss you...” - Sebastian Hutch

“I think I’d find it hard to defend a position where someone felt that they didn’t have time to bid. We have a fantastic auditorium, loads of bidspotters, if you want to get a bid in, nobody’s going to miss you as long as you’re taking the necessary steps to be made obvious.”

The speedy day of trading was certainly appreciated by a number of attendees, with a packed lawn of people after the sale enjoying a cold beverage and reflecting on what has been a positive start to Inglis’ first major sale of the calendar year.

Top Buyers

Domeland Pty LtdNSW6$650,000$108,333$180,000$95,000
MG Price Racing & BreedingVIC4$520,000$130,000$200,000$130,000
Lees Racing / Bahen Bloodstock LtdNSW3$485,000$161,667$220,000$150,000
Magus Equine LtdHONG KONG2$460,000$230,000$300,000$230,000
Ohukia Lodge LimitedNEW ZEALAND3$420,000$140,000$180,000$120,000
Astute Bloodstock (FBAA)NSW2$400,000$200,000$260,000$200,000
R YiuHONG KONG1$375,000$375,000$375,000$375,000
Annabel Neasham Racing / William Johnson Bloodstock (FBAA)NSW3$350,000$116,667$160,000$120,000
Prime Thoroughbreds Pty LtdVIC2$340,000$170,000$210,000$170,000
M G Price Racing & Breeding / Upper BloodstockVIC1$320,000$320,000$320,000$320,000

Vendors by aggregate

Sledmere Stud, Scone319$1,350,000$150,000$260,000$150,000
Bhima Thoroughbreds, Scone186$1,075,000$179,167$375,000$160,000
Widden Stud, Widden Valley5613$972,500$74,808$160,000$60,000
Riversdale, Scone257$735,000$105,000$210,000$90,000
Twin Hills Stud, Cootamundra237$685,000$97,857$200,000$80,000
HP Thoroughbreds, Hilldale115$670,000$134,000$180,000$150,000
Arrowfield Stud, Scone426$610,000$101,667$180,000$110,000
Vinery Stud, Scone397$595,000$85,000$240,000$70,000
Lustre Lodge, Alison94$580,000$145,000$240,000$135,000
Yarraman Park Stud, Scone236$550,000$91,667$160,000$85,000

Sires by aggregate

So You Think8$895,000$111,875$210,000$100,000
Too Darn Hot5$710,000$142,000$220,000$150,000
Ole Kirk7$660,000$94,286$150,000$90,000
North Pacific6$610,000$101,667$180,000$95,000
Star Turn6$527,000$87,833$240,000$60,000
Extreme Choice2$520,000$260,000$320,000$260,000

Sires by average

Street Boss1$375,000$375,000$375,000$375,000
Extreme Choice2$520,000$260,000$320,000$260,000
Alabama Express1$240,000$240,000$240,000$240,000
Wootton Bassett3$480,000$160,000$240,000$140,000
Per Incanto 2$310,000$155,000$160,000$155,000
Earthlight 1$150,000$150,000$150,000$150,000
Justify 3$440,000$146,667$210,000$180,000
Inglis Classic Yearling Sale
Sebastian Hutch
Jamie Walter
Grant and Alana Williams
Luke Fernie
Jeremy Easthope
Proven Throughbreds
Prime Thoroughbreds
Star Thoroughbreds
First Light Racing
Patriot Bloodstock
Alabama Express
Too Darn Hot (GB)
Cosmic Force
Bhima Thoroughbreds
Newhaven Park
Alma Vale/Kitchwin Hills Partnership