Above: The $280,000 sale-topping daughter of Not A Single Doubt
It was the result James O’Brien was hoping for but first he had to encounter unchartered waters which became more turbulent when the New South Wales borders were closed to Victoria.
O’Brien had made the decision to break from what had been tradition for his family’s Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm and offer what would have been next year’s yearlings as weanlings at last week’s Australian Weanling Sale in Sydney.
There were naturally a few murmurs about O’Brien’s bold decision to offer the entire 2019 foal crop, but the end result vindicated his move.
The Corinella based farm topped the sale with $280,000 for a Not A Single Doubt filly out of top broodmare Rhodamine.
They also finished as the leading vendor by average (for three or more sold) at $69,900 by selling all 10 weanlings.
And it was an end result which certainly eased the pressure O’Brien had been feeling leading into the sale that increased significantly when the border closed.
“But I’m over the moon now,” O’Brien said.
“It was a great sale.”
O’Brien said he was hopeful of achieving that sort of big price for the filly which had impressed all at the farm since day one.
“She was one that I wasn’t going to give away at that sale because she was always going to make a lovely yearling and I think a lovely racehorse,” he said.
“And she certainly gives me the signs of being an early type like her full brother, Legend of Condor. I think she will be an early runner and I can’t wait to see her hit the racetrack.
“But in the meantime she might be going through a yearling sale as well. It’s all part of selling weanlings and I hope they have success at selling her as a yearling.’’
The weanling will certainly have residual value as a broodmare and O’Brien says he loves Success Express mares which she is out of.
O’Brien said the cross has not only worked for Legend of Condor but also Squamosa (Not A Single Doubt/Class Success) – a winner of the Group 3 The Run to the Rose (1300m) and Listed June Stakes (1100m) – who stands at Sun Stud.
“So she is well related by being by Not A Single Doubt and he is no longer covering horses,” he said.
“And Legend of Condor has got that black type, but the positive news is that her dam, Rhodamine, is back in foal to Not A Single Doubt.
“So hopefully in a few months we will see another sibling from the family pop out and hopefully it will be equally as impressive and a nice runner.
“I think there is upside in the family racing wise, so it could be a really good pedigree of the future.”
Asked if he might look back when the filly goes through the yearling sale and ponder whether he should have kept her for another nine months, O’Brien said: “I don’t know, it’s a good question. We made the decision to sell weanlings and so we have done that and I think we have done a really, really good job of that given the circumstances and that we could not attend.
“As I’d previously mentioned, it was like pulling a hamstring three days before the Grand Final where you have done all the hard work. We foaled down the horses and you’ve raised them.”
O’Brien paid special tribute to farm manager Tamara Kemp and the entire team for the work they had done with the yearlings which he said they had become extremely attached to after being with them since day one.
He said Tamara and her team had done a fine job preparing the weanlings as they had been well handled and looked great.
“When we were told on the Wednesday before heading out that you can’t go, you can’t play in the main game – the Grand Final – it’s pretty devastating,” O’Brien said.
“I just hope the filly sells really, really well as a yearling. I’ll be happy because that’s our business decision and we made it and I have to be happy for anyone to do well from that.”
The filly was sold to Melbourne bloodstock agent, Suman Hedge who like, O’Brien, was unable to attend the sale.
“At this stage the idea is to put her through the yearling sale,” Hedge said.
“Obviously we like the horse and if we did put something together later on to race her, we’d be comfortable with that as well.
“She is a really good representation of Not A Single Doubt and looks nice and strong and is precocious and moves well.
“I wasn’t at the sale and had to rely on a couple of people to inspect her and then I called a couple of other people that I really respect and they were all the same – she was a real stand out and one of the nicer types there.
“And we were pretty confident to have a good crack at her.”
Hedge said it wasn’t the most he’d paid for a weanling after paying $200,000 for a weanling Zoustar colt, out of Madamesta, which his pin hooking group sold nine months later for $1 million last year.
“Typically when you go north of $200,000; it’s hard to turn that into something,” he said.
O’Brien said he was happy with the results achieved by Lauriston’s other horses as they had not sold weanlings at that level before.
“You don’t expect to makes millions of dollars at weanling sales,” O’Brien said.
“But I think it showed how consistent our draft was and how consistent they were overall. We had a couple at $70,000 and a couple at $60,000 and they were pretty good results, I think.”
O’Brien continually feared that the venture to Sydney was going to fail and that was even when the weanlings were being loaded onto the truck.
“It was sad seeing them go but then I started feeling a bit more confident,” he said.
“We had to put a team together at no notice and I hadn’t met the team who sold our horses as I was not allowed up there.
“But they were in really good hands under Karis Clarkson’s control so she did an amazing job and rang me regularly to keep me updated and she put me at ease.
“From there I was gaining a bit of confidence on the feedback she was giving me on how they draft was being received up there.
“It was very different and I’m a box walker a the best of times, but this time I think I took box walking to another level having to do it from Corinella.”
O’Brien said selling his horses as weanlings rather than yearlings is possibly the way he might continue to go in the future.
He said was buoyed with the success they had and believes they did a good job.
“I really have to think what I do with next year’s draft and possibly I think we might be back at the weanling sales next year for sure,” O’Brien.
“This industry is very cyclical with the cash flow and you need all forms but when you are not having a yearling income, which we are accustomed to in the past, more than likely it looks like we will be going to the weanling sales next year.”
O’Brien said he had two yearlings at this week’s digital Melbourne Gold Yearling Sale – a Sebring colt of Five Star Belle and a Vancouver filly out of Swiftly Red.
“Both are suited to this sale,” he said.
“The difficulty I had with assessing the weanlings was that I knew they were really good types and I wanted to go to a live sale because I wanted people to see them and recognise they were nice types and bid for them.
“It’s the same as these two yearlings and I would love people to see them because they are nice types and it’s going to be a tough sale because we are at Corinella and we are further out than most.”
O’Brien said they would were continue to race a couple they couldn’t sell and the farm would continue with its own band of 12 broodmares as well as offering agistment and pre-training services