By Tim Rowe, ANZ Bloodstock News
New Zealand nursery Wentwood Grange will travel back across the Tasman empty handed following this year’s Inglis Classic Sale, but that’s just what the Hawkins brothers were hoping for after all four of their specifically selected yearlings found buyers at the three-day Sydney auction.
The Cambridge-based farm attended their sixth Classic sale in the last seven years, having continued to bring a draft of yearlings throughout the three recent Covid-affected sales, in the midst of which they sold subsequent Victorian Group 2 runner-up Virtuous Circle (Almanzor) for $360,000 at Riverside.
Wentwood Grange parted with this week’s quartet for a combined return of $710,000 at an average of $177,500, a figure which resulted in them ending Book 1 sitting fourth on the leading vendor by average list (three or more sold).
Leading the group was a keenly sought after $320,000 colt by Proisir (Choisir) – the only yearling by the firing Rich Hill Stud stallion at the sale – which sold on the final day of trade to Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr.
“We wanted to bring a draft of big, strong horses to Classic and he fitted that mould,” Sean Hawkins said. “He was exactly the sort of horse we wanted to bring to Classic this year.
“We’ve had a really good sale. We’ve sold all four of the horses we brought over and they’ve all sold well; really well.”
The prevailing leader in the race to be crowned New Zealand’s champion sire this season, Proisir found favour with Australian buyers at the recent New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale at Karaka, as 13 of his 19 youngsters offered found their way to stables across the Tasman.
The stallion’s flagbearers this season include Classic winners Pier and Legarto, both of who will showcase their talents to an Australian audience this autumn, while Levante, Dark Destroyer and Karaka Million 3YO (RL, 1600m) winner Prowess have all catapulted the sire to prominence.
“At the time when we decided to bring him here, Proisir was going ok, but the run that he’s had over the last few months has been exceptional,” said Hawkins, who operates Wentwood with his brothers Leigh and Dean. “He’s a credit to the team at Rich Hill and this result just goes to show how much the Australians appreciate him.”
Behind the journey to Australia is a desire to expand the Wentwood Grange brand into the heart of their flourishing neighbour, pitching horses to Australian buyers with the hope they capture the attention of the biggest and best trainers in the country, a mission that will be considered complete with this week’s results.
While Victoria’s respected training partnership of Price and Kent latched onto the Proisir colt, it was champion trainer Chris Waller who took home a colt by The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) for $160,000, while a filly by Vadamos (Monsun) ($180,000) and a daughter of Kermadec (Teofilo) will also ply their trade in Australia.
“To have people like Mick buying from us is outstanding. We’re looking to build those relationships [with Australian trainers] and get them into those top stables,” Hawkins said.
“They were headlined by this horse [by Proisir], but we had a Vadamos filly as well which was an outstanding result.”
Wentwood will now take a draft of five to the vibrant Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale next month, a sale which they attended in 2020 and 2021.