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Jul 9th 2020 O'Brien celebrates


Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm’s James O’Brien has had a week like no other, but today it ended in the best way possible as a Not A Single Doubt filly he offered topped the Australian Weanling Sale.

The worsening COVID-19 situation in Victoria the past seven days has led to chaos for many Victorians, including O’Brien, who admits his stress levels this week have “gone to unchartered territory – and that’s saying something for me’’.

But today, as he offered Lauriston’s entire 2019 foal crop as supplementary entries in the Australian Weanling Sale, his stresses turned to jubilation as lot 343 (ex Rhodamine) sold to Suman Hedge Bloodstock on behalf of Grant Bloodstock and Myrrh Australia for $280,000, a sale-topping price.

Not only did Lauriston provide the sale-topper, it also ended as leading vendor by average (for three or more sold) at $69,900, selling all 10 lots offered.

“I’m ecstatic, over the moon, emotional, very proud of the achievements of today. What a day,’’ a relieved O’Brien said.

“It’s been hugely stressful. We were jumping in a car Friday to sell up there in Sydney but we got blocked on Wednesday so everything changed. We had to find staff, organise travel, accommodation, who could offload the horses once they got to Sydney, all the logistics while trying to let Victorians know they had one day basically to do on-farm inspections here in Victoria before the horses left and everything else.

“Karis Clarkson ran our team for us at Riverside and she did an outstanding job, as did all the staff, who had never seen these weanlings before until the weekend.

“It really took my stress to a new level. The foals are born on your farm, you raise them, get them ready for auction and come to the grand final it’s like we’ve pulled a hamstring three days out and can’t play. It really was distressing.

“But to come out the other side as leading vendor, all credit goes to my team here on the farm, they put a lot of effort in and the feedback I was getting daily from Karis and her crew at Riverside was exceptional, so thank you to everyone who helped us achieve these great results.’’

The Not A Single Doubt filly (pictured) which topped the sale was always a special filly, according to O’Brien.

“She’s an outstanding type and was from the outset,’’ he said.

“We’ve always felt she’d be popular come sale time so all credit to Suman and Steve and the team, I’m confident they’ll get a great result if they on sell or keep her to race.’’

Like O’Brien, Victorian-based Hedge was unable to attend Riverside but took the advice of people he trusted who recommended the Not A Single Doubt filly.

“Rob Petith, farm manager of Silverdale and Scott Holcombe (Milburn Creek farm manager), they are two confidants and friends and they did the inspections on our behalf and they particularly liked this filly,’’ Hedge said.

“She rated the best physical at the sale. I didn’t see her but I had really strong confidence to get involved because I trust the people I was using to help me.

“This filly has the pedigree, she’s by a champion stallion and the mare is a running mare who’s already produced a talented full relative (Legend Of Condor) so all of those factors gave us a lot of confidence to get involved heavily.

“That said, $280k was really on our limit. We had nothing left.

“There was good, strong competition on her and others and I didn’t feel there was much difference between this sale and other sales from a buying perspective. The catalogue was strong and the results reflected that.’’

The leading vendor for the sale by aggregate was Fairhill Farm, clearing 23 weanlings for a total of $858,000.

They finished just ahead of Coolmore, whose 23 sold for $823,000.

Fairhill’s Mike O’Donnell said: “We can’t get away from the fact COVID is an issue we are all dealing with but the past 48 hours have been exceptional, considering the times we’re in, and the Inglis staff have been unbelievably good to make this happen.

“I had expectations that I didn’t want to think about so we’re very happy with how this has turned out for us.

“Everyone that could be here, was, and those that couldn’t, they were all represented, and as a vendor that’s all you can ask for.’’

Written Tycoon ended as leading sire by average (for three or more sold), with his progeny averaging $100,000.

Of the first season sires, Russian Revolution topped the averages (for three or more sold) at $75,000, ahead of Hellbent at $71,000.

On the buyer front, Binalong Bloodstock was the biggest investor, spending $450,000 on four lots while Jazcom was the leading buyer by lots purchased, taking 16 weanlings home.

“The horses are here for us to buy, there’s good quality in our market,’’ Jazcom’s Colin Branthwaite said.

“I like to cover a lot of angles and have a lot of chances and try to cash in on whatever one comes good, rather than put all my eggs in one basket.

“I could tell from doing the inspections there were a lot more nice horses here. The horses are here and I won’t buy them if I don’t like them but I liked a lot of horses here.’’

In another remarkable show of the industry’s resilience, the sale’s median and gross increased on last year, while the average of $34,216 was effectively on par with the 2019 result.

A total of 16 horses sold for $100,000 or more, up from 14 last year.

To view all of the sale’s statistics, CLICK HERE.

Inglis Managing Director Mark Webster was relieved clients enjoyed such overall success at the sale.

“It’s been challenging for all of our clients these past few months so this was a good trading opportunity for them,’’ Webster said.

“These were very good results under the circumstances, effectively on par or better than last year, which is quite remarkable considering.

“There was good competition on the better types especially, which is a strong indication the right people were here.

“Our vendors have all been very patient and I thank them for that but especially the Victorian vendors who took a leap of faith by joining the catalogue and I’m so glad to see such great results for a number of them.’’

To enquire about a passed in lot from either today or yesterday contact Harry Bailey on 0420 997 417.

Buyers’ attention now turns to the Inglis Digital July (Early) Online Auction, which opens tomorrow afternoon.

Another quality catalogue has been assembled, including the Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale and an outstanding Godolphin consignment of 41 race fillies and mares.

The final countdown of bidding begins at 10am next Thursday, July 16.