There were fireworks aplenty at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in Kentucky on Tuesday evening, with a whopping 25 mares selling for seven-figure sums during a ferocious day of bidding. 

Kia Ora spearheaded the Australian buying bench, and The Thoroughbred Report spoke with Adam White to get the low down on its trio of purchases.

Neighbouring stud farms Vinery Stud and Kia Ora Stud announced a consolidation of their operations in January of this year, and at Fasig-Tipton on Wednesday, we saw the first show of combined strength on the international stage as a trio of well-credentialled race mares were purchased under the latter’s name for a combined total of US$3 million (AU$4.66 million).

Vinery’s bloodstock manager, Adam White, was joined in Kentucky by Kia Ora CEO and Vinery partner Steve McCann, and the pair were tasked with sourcing high-quality breeding prospects to add to Kia Ora’s enviable band of broodmares.

The duo succeeded in no uncertain terms, signing for a trio of mares who will most likely make their way back to Australia in January in preparation for next year’s Southern Hemisphere breeding season, with a decision on which stallion each mare will visit set to be made in due course.

The most expensive of Kia Ora’s three-strong haul came in the shape of Bubble Rock (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}), a Grade 2 winner in the US for top trainer Brad Cox, who hails from the family of successful stallion Dehere (USA).

White had to stretch to US$1.5 million (AU$2.33 million) to secure the half-sister to Korea’s Champion Sprinter and Champion Miler Blue Chipper (USA) (Tiznow {USA}) but given that she reminded him of one of Vinery Stud’s most influential broodmares of recent times, Grace And Power (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}), he was over the moon to have secured her for Kia Ora.

“She’s a Group winner on turf and was an absolute queen as far as to look at – she’s absolutely magnificent,” White told The Thoroughbred Report. “She has great scope and when you look at her she is a complete Australian type of mare, which is important when you’re buying mares here.

“In particular for me, being part of Vinery, she reminded me so much of a mare that we have had on the farm, Grace And Power, who’s the mother of Delectation and grandmother of Artorius.

“There was Australian and American interest in her and she was very popular here. Even when we weren’t looking at her and just walked past where she was in the barn, you just sort of noticed her standing there, and you could see how much people were adoring her.

“She can go to any stallion back home and she’s the one that we really targeted at that level. I was very happy to get her, I can assure you.”

Another feather in Bubble Rock’s cap was that she was a Group-winning 2-year-old by a stallion White knows all too well in the late More Than Ready (USA), the record-breaking sire of 223 stakes winners who shuttled to Vinery Stud for an astonishing 19 years and continues to have a profound impact on the breed worldwide.

“More Than Ready has been such a great stallion for our own country, and in both hemispheres as well,” White added.

“We know what he did as a stallion but we’re really seeing it as a broodmare sire now. Those stallions are like diamonds, they just don’t come up very often, and as a broodmare sire he is doing it in both hemispheres as well, which you’d expect.”

It was a similar story with Kia Ora’s first purchase of the November Sale, Star Devine (Ire), who is a daughter of another renowned broodmare sire influence Down Under – and the world over, for that matter – in Fastnet Rock.

Consigned by Indian Creek as Hip 188, Star Devine hails from a top-class international family which includes recent Group 2 scorer Darnation (Ire) (Too Darn Hot {GB}), one of the leading juvenile fillies in Europe this year.

Star Devine is also a sister to the hugely progressive Poker Face (Ire) (Fastnet Rock), an impressive recent winner of the G2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein in France, and is out of a Galileo (Ire) half-sister to G1 Irish Oaks and G1 1000 Guineas heroine Blue Bunting (USA) (Dynaformer {USA}), who was crowned Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in Britain in 2011.

As regal as her bloodlines are, it was Star Devine’s impressive race record over sprinting trips which convinced White that she represented excellent value at US$650,000 (AU$1 million), and White believes she is the perfect proposition for the Australian stallion ranks.

“Fastnet Rock mares are obviously very attractive for our part of the world, and she was a fast one,” he said. “She raced on turf, she raced over sprint distances, she’s good-looking, she’s strong and her full brother was a last-start Group 2 winner.

“It’s something we identified that the American market was perhaps not targeting as much, and with the Australian dollar where it is, the lack of competition from our own part of the world was not there, so I think we were able to secure her very well.

“She’s going to be a nice mare to get home and breed from, and you go to any sale, whether it be Magic Millions or Inglis Easter, with a yearling out of a proper mare who won at good racetracks on turf in America by a stallion that we know – it’s a no brainer really.

“We have seen Galileo do so well as a broodmare sire in Australia as well, so it’s blood that we know works. Physically she is an Australian type of mare and she’s just ideal for our part of the world.”

Having watched several well-performed fillies make in excess of US$1 million, White was left in no doubt that he had once again sourced some great value when Kia Ora struck late in the day for Hip 260, the former Chad Brown-trained Grade 2 winner Haughty (USA) (Empire Maker {USA}).

Kia Ora parted with US$850,000 (AU$1.32 million) for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf placegetter, who hails from the same family as Group 1-winning miler and Haras de Bouquetot stallion Al Wukair (Ire).

A half-sister to multiple US Stakes winner Souper Colossal (USA) (War Front {USA}), White feels that Haughty’s precocity makes her an extremely exciting recruit to Australia, especially in light of the recent potency of American broodmares Down Under.

“We think she was extremely well bought,” White said. “She was a good 2-year-old and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which is a great leg up for Australia.

“We saw some mares here that had won those sorts of races sell for three or four million, and we were talking to the vendor after we bought her and they were saying how quickly they had to rush her to get her qualified for the Breeders’ Cup. To run third in it is great form for Australia, and again having raced on turf, with a pedigree that you can breed to anything, if she’d have won that Breeders’ Cup turf she would have been out of our reach from what we saw tonight.

“She’s going to fit in very well for Kia Ora and American mares are doing a terrific job in Australia – we have already seen that in the first 2-year-old races in Sydney. They just work.

“You have to buy the right sort of American mare, and the one thing that I have sort of picked up on being here and looking at those sorts of mares is that they have good bone, which is important for where we breed.”

Story by TTR