the art

The art of the broodmare purchase

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‘What you see is what you will get’ is an approach agent James Bester has long used to his advantage when purchasing broodmares.

“In my case, performance and physique come ahead of anything within reason. I tend to look for high-class race mares who have the sort of physique I want to see in my foals,” Bester said.

“Of course, you get high-class race mares that can buck that trend and win Group 1s with what I would call compromised physiques, but I have no interest in such mares, irrespective of their race records, because black cats have black kittens.

“I want in my foals what that mare took to the racecourse. I am very, very particular about physique.”

‘What you see is what you will get’ is an approach agent James Bester has long used to his advantage when purchasing broodmares.

“In my case, performance and physique come ahead of anything within reason. I tend to look for high-class race mares who have the sort of physique I want to see in my foals,” Bester said.

“Of course, you get high-class race mares that can buck that trend and win Group 1s with what I would call compromised physiques, but I have no interest in such mares, irrespective of their race records, because black cats have black kittens.

“I want in my foals what that mare took to the racecourse. I am very, very particular about physique.”

A shining example of that was his involvement in securing Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock), who would go on to win four Group 1 events and a burgeoning career as a broodmare.

James Bester

“When Demi O’Byrne bought Atlantic Jewel as a yearling her mother was a winner and nothing more. The mother only raced a few times,” Bester said. “We had it on good authority from the mother’s owner Lloyd Williams and that mare’s rider Danny Nikolic that she was every bit as good as Efficient.

“It was unusual for Lloyd Williams to have a mare racing, but she was one. We looked into the dam so I will buy a mare without performance with a really strong pedigree if something went wrong and she should have been a Group 1 winner.

“I would rate Atlantic Jewel and Global Glamour as the best looking fillies I’ve bought for racing purposes. I can’t think of any others that I had such strong feelings about.”

A $320,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase, Atlantic Jewel’s two foals to race are winners with Russian Emperor (Galileo {Ire}) successful in the G3 Royal Ascot Hampton Court S. and a leading contender for this weekend’s G1 English Derby.

Fastnet Rock x O’Marilyn (NZ) (colt) when sold for $1.8 million at Inglis | Image courtesy of Inglis

Bester was also part of a major broodmare success story when he had a hand in securing the Group 1 winner O’Marilyn (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}).

“She was a particularly good-looking individual that I bought in conjunction with Paul Moroney and Glen Harvey,” Bester said. “She had outstanding physique and a deep, deep pedigree as a half-sister to Headturner and Anacheeva.

“She was purpose bought for Fastnet Rock, who appreciates quality, good head, refinement and athleticism in his mares. O’Marilyn offered that and her first foal by Fastnet Rock went through the ring at $1.8 million and was bought by George Moore.

“The second foal went for $600,000 and was bought by Katsumi Yoshida and the third foal made $540,000 through the ring and bought by myself for a Coolmore syndicate.

“The fourth foal is by I Am Invincible and is every bit as good as the previous. When one gets it right and you have performance, physique and pedigree and correctly mate the mare to the stallion you have in mind and get the required product it comes together in a beautiful way.”

Fastnet Rock | Standing at Coolmore

More mares on list

Yulong will this year launch the stallion careers of Group 1 winner Alabama Express while associate sire Grunt (NZ) will stand his second season and the Victorian operation is continuing to add to its broodmare band with them in mind.

“We try and get nice looking mares and those that have worked with similar sire lines previously to increase our chances,” Chief Operating Officer Sam Fairgray said.

“Ideally, we like mares in foal for the first or second time and for Alabama Express, mares that have worked with the likes of Beneteau, Snitzel, Not A Single Doubt and Redoute’s Choice to increase the chances of producing a nice horse.

Alabama Express | Standing at Yulong Farm

“We prefer to try and buy them in foal to a commercial stallion and also we’re keeping in the back of our minds that we’ll have Tagaloa at stud next year. This year there may be some good buying because next year the market could be stronger again.

“We’re still looking to buy more so we’ll go through those at Magic Millions and identify the ones that we think will suit them. We’ll probably go up to the Hunter and look at the ones that won’t be at the sale and go from there.”

Array of factors

Bill Mitchell, who operates Mitchell Bloodstock with son James, said he took an array of factors into consideration when selecting broodmares.

“There’s type, size, what they are going to be mated with and we use G1 Goldmine system to make sure the matings are compatible with all the data that it brings to the table,” said Bill.

“Then of course, we often find that clients have certain criteria. Often people pick out a number of mares and ask us to inspect them. We don’t have anything set in concrete and keep an open mind.”

James and Bill Mitchell

Broodmare sires and race performance were other major factors and both influenced by budget.

“With the internet, everyone knows who the best broodmare sires and most of the leading stallions end up being the leading broodmare sires,” Mitchell said.

“You can take more risk and go with a lesser known sire of a mare or something a bit less commercial and if you think she’s going to throw you a good type, you are probably going to get away with that.

“With regard to performance, it’s about how much you’ve got to spend – you can’t buy champagne with a beer budget. It’s about knowing value and understanding what things are worth.”

Mitchell enjoyed multiple Group 1 successes during his years as a trainer before he retired from that role in 2005 and since then has been working for private clients and as Racing Manager for Kevin Maloney’s Segenhoe stud.

In the latter role, one of Mitchell’s success stories has been Sister Madly (Redoute’s Choice), a half-sister to former Hong Kong champion Silent Witness (El Moxie {USA}).

Sister Madly when sold in 2011 | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

She was purchased at the 2011 Magic Millions Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale out of Edinburgh Park’s draft for $1 million. At that time, she had won at Group 3 level and subsequently added the G2 Salinger S. and the G3 How Now S. to her record.

“We paid a lot for her and she had four starts for us for two wins and two seconds and won about $400,000 on the track. We got $1.2 million for her first foal by Sepoy,” Mitchell said.

“Segenhoe have made a lot of money out of her and she’s there for life. She’s got a daughter by Street Cry (Duvessa), who only won one race due to injury, and she’s a beautiful mare.

“Sister Madly’s one of those foundation mares and there will always be a few daughters hanging around at Segenhoe. She went to So You Think and missed so he’d start favourite again for her.”

Sepoy x Sister Madly (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Band well-stocked

Dean Hawthorne manages the extensive bloodstock portfolio of prominent breeder and owner Jonathan Munz, who has holdings in recently retired stallions Castelvecchio and Super Seth.

While Munz has a broodmare band of nearly 100, he hasn’t ruled out adding to the tally.

“We’re pretty well placed because we’ve been accumulating mares for the last five years and we’ve got enough mares that haven’t got Danehill or Sadler’s Wells in their pedigrees to go to Super Seth,” Hawthorne said.

Super Seth | Standing at Waikato Stud

“Of course, with Castelvecchio not having Danehill in his blood we’ve got enough mares to send to him as well. We weren’t expecting both of them to go to stud in the same year, but we’ve got enough mares to give them good starts.

“I won’t be able to get to the Gold Coast Broodmare Sale I wouldn’t think, which I find strange given soccer teams and that can go and play sport and we can’t go and do our business. It’s disappointing, but the way it is.

“We will be looking though, whether I do the work or we put someone in place there I’m not sure yet. We’ve also got a leg in King’s Legacy as well, so we’ll be looking ahead for quality mares for him.”

Munz’s broodmare band features a number of seven figure purchases, among them The Broken Shore (Hussonet {USA}). She was secured for $1.9 million from the Teeley Dispersal Sale when carrying subsequent three-time Group 1 winner Shoals.

As a half-sister to the four-time Group 1 winner and champion sire Redoute’s Choice and in foal to Fastnet Rock, The Broken Shore had obvious broodmare appeal and so it proved in the auction ring.

The Broken Shore

Shoals’ brother Groundswell, a winner and Group 1-placed in the Caulfield Guineas, is the only offspring to be offered so far and he sold for $2.3 million to Anthony Freedman Racing at the Inglis Australian Yearling Sale.

“Another one of the best mares we’ve purchased was Miss Sharapova, about the same time we bought The Broken Shore. She was fourth in the G1 New Zealand Oaks and third in the G3 Lowland S. and had a nice pedigree,” Hawthorne said.

“A relation, Villa Verde, was going well at the time and sold as a broodmare for $1 million. Miss Sharapova has been an absolute gem of a mare and a fantastic type.

“She’d be in the top 10 broodmares in Australia for sale ring receipts. She produced this season’s G3 Kindergarten S. winner Domeland and he made $1.1 million as a yearling.”

Physique is paramount, but not necessarily performance as evident with the purchase from Widden Stud’s draft of the non-winner Purely Spectacular (NZ) (Pins) at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

“Purely Spectacular was a mare I paid $300,000 for and she’d left Stratum Star, who wasn’t a Group 1 winner at the time, and went on to win three of them. These mares don’t really have anything in common,” Hawthorne said.

Her son Prague (Redoute’s Choice) ensured a tasty return on investment when he sold for $1.6 million at the Gold Coast last year and has won twice at Group 3 level this season and been Group 1 placed.

Dean Hawthorne (right) believes type always sells

“We’ve got mares that we’ve bred and if they leave good types year in year out then we will hang on to them, type always sells even if they are lower grade sales,” Hawthorne said.

“Now we have the volume we really only target top end mares if they suit our stallions and the quality we have bought as yearlings are coming through as well. We always buy with residual value in mind.”

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