Waterhouse and Bott paid $1.2 million for a colt by their Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Farnan (Not A Single Doubt) who was bred by Bell River Thoroughbreds, a small farm that produces big results. The Ferguson family’s Lower Hunter Valley farm certainly delivered on their motto, selling their first million-dollar yearling after two decades in the breeding industry and the occasion was not lost on James Ferguson.

It was also an important milestone for the $1.2 million colt’s 2020 Slipper-winning sire, the high-profile acquisition also signalled Kia Ora’s return as a major commercial stallion operation under the ownership of Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan. “I’m standing here with dad [Andrew] but I’ve got a younger brother [Jock] who led the horse through. He’s just down at the barn with the horse,” James Ferguson said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the three of us and we all know that [my mother] Georgie was part of the business at one stage as well. It’s been a 20-year journey to get to this. It’s just phenomenal to be here.

“The other thing is, we’ve got an outstanding team at home and we’re going to have a big party with them when we get home. It’s surreal to be here as a commercial breeder because this game is so hard.”

Farnan’s trainers combined with Kia Ora and a partnership the stable put together to support the first crop of their Golden Slipper winner. In order to leave the sale with the colt, they had to fight off strong competition from Newgate Farm’s Henry Field, while Gandharvi Racing’s Michael Wallace placed the unsuccessful $1 million bid.

The high-priced colt is the second foal of the Ferguson’s The Galaxy (Gr 1, 1100m) winner I Am Excited (Snitzel), herself from a family that features star mare Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) and stakes winner Flippant (Hinchinbrook) whose I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) filly made $750,000 on Thursday. I Am Excited’s first foal is a filly by Lonhro (Octagonal).

“It’s no real surprise where he fell in the market because he’s out of a very well-performed mare and there’s some great breeding lines through both sides of the family,” Bott said. “He’s what you’d really hope to see Farnan stamp in his progeny and he’s one of the best examples we could see and hope for.”

Bott revealed the stable had canvassed partners about going into yearlings by Farnan well in advance of the Magic Millions sale given the faith he and Waterhouse have in the stallion’s credentials.

“Obviously we have so much belief in him with his profile at stud and we knew his ability as a racehorse. He was our last Golden Slipper winning colt and it’s a great indicator for their success at stud,” he said. “In his first year we wanted to support the stallion, try and find the best way to do that and with Kia Ora standing him, they wanted to back that concept and help do that, so there was an idea going into the sale that we would be to do that.”

Bell River bred and sold the now super sire Extreme Choice as a yearling and the Fergusons showed their faith in Farnan. “We believe he is the best son of Not A Single Doubt to have ever gone to stud,” James Ferguson said. “We worked out he was the best physical mating for that mare. We love that Not A Single Doubt sireline and we think if there is one horse that is going to carry Redoute’s Choice line into the future, this bloke could be it.”

Bell River’s previous highest-priced yearling was an Extreme Choice colt sold for $775,000 at the 2022 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.

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