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Keeneland hopeful that opportunities will present themselves

JUST over two months on from hosting their lowest grossing November Sale for seven years, Keeneland opens its doors again, this time for the company's January Sale, which starts on Monday.

This year's sale has been reduced by a session to six days, perhaps in response to vendors' desire to hold on to their stock - in particular weanlings - until either the market rebounds or the yearling market opens. However, the sales company is remaining positive and has catalogued 2,379 horses for the sale, which last year grossed $70,446,000 and averaged $47,184.

"We go into the sale knowing there is a major change in the economic situation worldwide, but we're also hopeful that people realize the great opportunity that is in front of them," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "You can buy horses now and, with the production costs down over the next couple of years, you'll be sitting in a very good position when the market turns around. Our sale is headed by the likes of Azeri and Island Fashion, and there a lot of very nicemid-range broodmare prospects. There is good quality all the way through."

As mentioned by Russell, the undoubted star of the sale is US Horse of the Year and triple champion Azeri (301), who is, as was last year's $2.7m sale-topper Irish Cherry, scheduled to sell through Hill ‘n' Dale Sales Agency. She is sold in foal to Ghostzapper.

The daughter of Jade Hunter netted over $4m in prize-money from 17 victories during her four season career with wins in 11 Grade 1 races including the 2002 Breeders' Cup Distaff and three renewals of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap.

At the Keeneland September Sale last year, Azeri again hit the headlines when her first foal, a colt by A P Indy, was bought back by Michael Paulson for $7.7m - the highest ever buyback in Keeneland history.

The first session will also see the sale of another top-class US filly in Island Fashion (90), who is consigned by Pope McLean on behalf of the reduction of Everest Stables. The daughter of Petionville banked over $2m on the track and was covered by Storm Cat and Ghostzapper last year.

The sale starts on Monday at 10.00am local time.

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