A glamour Fastnet Rock colt narrowly failed to fetch $2 million at Karaka but Hamilton studmaster Gordon Cunningham couldn't have cared less.
The colt out of Gr I-producing broodmare Celebria was knocked down to Coolmore Stud's Tom Magnier for $1.975 million to provide Cunningham's Curraghmore Stud with its second million-dollar sale but clearly its best result, surpassing the $1 million it got for Danehill colt Offenbach in 2004.
"I'm delighted with the result obviously. It's a great price for a superb colt," Cunningham said.
"We sold Offenbach for $1 million but I knew this horse was in a different league. He's by a great sire. His pedigree is top class and everything about the horse on paper suggests he can become a stallion one day himself, but even more so when you look at him physically. He's just an exceptional specimen that you'd expect to be a Gr I horse."
Cunningham sold the colt on behalf of Australian breeder John Camilleri, having convinced him to sell him in New Zealand after inspecting the colt as a foal and checking his pedigree.
Cunningham rated the colt as superior to the Fastnet Rock colt out of Nureyev's Girl that topped last year's premier sale at $1.75 million so his expectations were always high.
"He just had more strength to his pedigree. This is one of the best families in the world and that's why I encouraged John Camilleri to get him over here," Cunningham said.
"He's shown his faith in the New Zealand market, the Curraghmore operation and New Zealand Bloodstock to have the buyers here and recognise a colt like this and pay his value. I'm just delighted John's happy. If he's happy, I'm happy and that's the name of the game."
Camilleri had enjoyed success buying from Curraghmore in the past, having purchased Fairway from the Hamilton farm and gone on to win five Gr I races and provide the name for the Australian breeder's operation, Fairway Thoroughbreds.
The colt became the highlight of the first day of the two-day premier sale, quickly passing the $1 million mark to the delight of a packed Karaka sales auditorium after bidding began at $500,000.
Te Akau's David Ellis made one bid at $1.3 million but bowed out as Magnier and Black Caviar's Melbourne trainer Peter Moody battled it out. Magnier looked to have secure the colt at $1.9 million when Moody walked away only to return to his seat for one more bid at $1.95 million.
The expected next bid of $2 million never eventuated as Magnier, on the phone to his father Irish thoroughbred and business magnate John Magnier, made the tactical bid of $1.975 million.
It opened the door for Moody to go to $2 million but he shook his head.
Asked about the $1.975 million bid, Magnier said: "You always want to get a horse as cheap as you can."
Magnier, who bought a Fastnet Rock colt out of Smart Company for A$1.350 at the Gold Coast earlier this month, said the colt would go to David Hayes to be trained.
He said he was aware he was bidding against Moody.
"I could see him through the other side. He's a very good judge," Magnier said.
"All the top judges would always be on a good horse like this. He's a lovely horse and the right people were on him, so we just need a bit of luck now. He's a very nice colt, lots of quality and he's a lovely mover. We're just lucky to have him.
"He's by the right stallion in Fastnet Rock and the family is doing very well. He's a very exciting sire at the moment and he's standing up in Europe as well. It's exciting to have him."
Magnier praised Curraghmore Stud's preparation of the colt.
"Gordon does a terrific job. All his horses look terrific this year and it's a credit to him," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News