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Two foals top 100m yen at JRHA select sale

Offered Sold % Sold Aggregate Ave
208 141 68 3,339m 23.68m


NOTHING stirs the blood of Japanese breeders and buyers like a 100 million yen horse.

And on Tuesday, there were two of them at the foal session of the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale on the island of Hokkaido, sparking some spirited bidding battles and flickers of light ina market shadowed by annual declines since 2006.

"This is much better than we anticipated, no doubt - the prices were very good," declared JRHA Vice Chairman and Shadai Farm owner Teruya Yoshida after the reformatted two-daysale ended. "The main reason [that expectations were exceeded] is that people love horses and they have money, a little bit of money, to spend."

Besieged by national and global economic problems as never before in their era,many Japanese breeders have struggled as much as, if not more than, their counterparts around the world.

Somewhat ironically, while Japan has been moving toward establishing a significant trade in yearlings in order to follow other major markets, it was the time-tested Japanese attraction to foals that allowed some optimism to flare this week.

"Foals are prettier, it's simple," Yoshida said with a wide smile. "This is the Japanese tradition, to buy foals, and nobody has asked me to wait until they are yearlings to sell them."

A flashy Neo Universe colt, who is a brother to 2009 champion and Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Logi Universe, electrified a reserved Northern Horse Park sale pavilion when he entered the ring on Tuesday with his dam, the unraced Cape Cross mare Acoustics.

When the second bid hit an equivalent of $500,000, observers knew that predictions from consignor Northern Farm that the colt could be a headline maker were not exaggerated.

Prominent owners Takaya Shimakawa and Riichi Kondo squared off in a duel, with Shimakawa raising every bid in a rapid-fire assault as Kondo responded leisurely.

Shimakawa eventually prevailed, securing the colt for 112m yen (£821,197/€979,553), which, while markedly higher than the top yearling price paid on Monday, was significantly lower than last year's most expensive foal, a 165m yen colt by Daiwa Major.

A health foods entrepreneur, Shimakawa said he decided to buy the Neo Universe colt on the strong recommendation of Northern Farm owner and leading consignor Katsumi Yoshida.

Eventually the foal will join the approximately 150 horses in training that Shimakawa currently owns.
"I was ready to pay more for the colt, so I am happy," a grinning Shimakawa said.

From 208 foals offered in the single session in a reformatted sale that eliminated one day of foal selling, 141 were reported sold. The clearance rate was 68 per cent, up from the 65 per cent experienced in the two foal sessions of 2009.

Aggregate for Tuesday's foal session reached 3.339 billion yen (£24,478,335/€29,210,719) as compared to 4,913,200,000 during two foal sessions in 2009. The average price of 23,680,000 yen (£173,625/€207,133) declined less than one per cent from last year's average, providing a reason for some celebration.

While the sale held its own, with the yearling and foal sessions together producing 314 horses sold from 422 offered for a total of 6,496,100,000 (£47,621,265/€56,820,452), some of the overall numbers declined. The average price for all horses sold fell 11 per cent to 20,690,000 yen (£154,442/€184,249).

Shimakawa did more than his part to support the sale, also obtaining a colt by Deep Impact out of Argentine Group 1-placed Data (Arg) for 92m yen (£674,373/€804,625).

"This was the one I liked the most," Shimakawa said.
While both Teruya and Katsumi Yoshidasold most of their horses and gained many good prices, independent breeders suffered. An unofficial analysis showed that 61 per cent of the horses offered by those breeders were reported as not sold.

"A lot of us will have big yearling consignments next year," said Irish native Harry Sweeney, who operates Paca Paca Farm, which offered ten foals on Tuesday. Only one of those foals was reported as sold.




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