Above: Alabama Express

While the green and white colours have been a fixture in Australian racing for over six years, the Yulong project, spearheaded by the vision of chairman Yuesheng Zhang, is only just starting to take shape, with the ambitious acquisition of bloodstock matched by investment in staff and facilities.

The strategy around stallions has taken big steps in the past 12 months with Grunt, the dual Group 1-winning son of O’Reilly (NZ), standing his first season in Victoria last spring, and two excellent stallion prospects, G1 CF Orr S. winner Alabama Express and G1 Blue Diamond S. winner Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), secured in a spending spree through February this year.

A son of the legendary Redoute’s Choice, Alabama Express debuts at $27,500 (inc GST) and began his stallion career earlier this week in what was another milestone for Yulong Chief Operating Officer Sam Fairgray and his team.

“He’s taken to it like a natural, he’s going really well. He covered a few mares yesterday and covered one this morning,” Fairgray told TDN AusNZ.

“At the moment he’s got 135 mares, so he’s going along really well. I think he’ll end up covering around the 150 mark.

“He’ll have every opportunity with getting some really nice mares to him. It’s good that Mr Zhang wants to do that and help support them with those nice mares.”

“He’ll have every opportunity with getting some really nice mares to him.” – Sam Fairgray

Tagaloa is also from a hugely desirable sireline, being by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), who has only had 12 yearlings sell through Australian sales rings in the past three years. Being the only Australian Group 1 winner by the Shadai Stallion Station-based sire, he is an excellent recruit for an international operation such as Yulong.

However, Tagaloa’s time in Yulong’s new stallion barn will have to wait as his trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young plot further racetrack success through this spring. The smart colt returned with a close-up third in the G3 Vain S. at Caulfield last week and is second favourite for the G1 Caulfield Guineas next month.

Above: Tagaloa

Grunts on the ground

The 2020 season is a milestone for Grunt as well, with his first foals arriving in recent weeks, much to the delight of Fairgray, who is seeing exactly what he wants in his progeny.

“He’s thrown his quality into them which is great. Most of them are nice, attractive foals with plenty of size and substance about them. They all have good heads and so forth, and from what we’ve seen so far, you’d be really happy,” he said.

Fairgray feels based on the relatively small sample size so far, there should be no hesitation in breeders returning to Grunt again this year.

“I think going on the types of foals he’s thrown, you’d get mares returning,” he said. “He’s going to be well supported again this year. He’s got around 140 mares, which is good for a second-season stallion. Both of them are going to serve nice books and Grunt’s fertility last year was fantastic.

“Hopefully, Alabama’s can be as good, it just makes the job so much easier.”

Top class broodmares a boost

Looking to support its emerging and future stallions, Yulong has built its broodmare band both through local and international investment in recent years.

With two young stallions to support and another one likely to join next year, it was the leading buyer at both the Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale and Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in 2020, buying 26 mares or race fillies in total, and spending over $11.2 million.

In uncertain times, Zhang has not wavered in his desire to build his Australian business and give his stallion acquisitions every chance of success.

“If you believe in your stallions, you have to support them,” Fairgray said. “We think they are two very nice horses that will become successful stallions and we are happy to support them.

“If you believe in your stallions, you have to support them.” – Sam Fairgray

“We are getting a nice broodmare band together. Mr Zhang’s aim is to keep building and building the bloodstock portfolio, so he seems to be doing that and there are some really nice mares among the ones we bought and they are in foal to nice stallions as well.”

Million-dollar mares

Chief among that selection is Viddora (I Am Invincible), the winner of both the G1 Moir S. and the G1 Winterbottom S. who was purchased in foal to Lope De Vega (Ire) for $2.55 million at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale.

On an overseas cover to Ballyinch Stud’s Lope De Vega, she is due to foal in the next week, after which point a decision will be made on her next destination.

“She’s due around the 10th of this month. At this stage, we will wait and see what she does foaling-wise and then decide where we go from there,” Fairgray said.

Above: Viddora was purchased in foal to Lope De Vega (Ire) for $2.55 million

Being free of Danehill (USA) blood, she has a host of options in Australia, with Fairgray indicating she may be headed north to the Hunter Valley.

“It’s probably more a chance we go external with her but it will depend on what type of foal she has,” he said.

The other seven-figure purchase for Yulong on the Gold Coast was G1 Australian Oaks winner Unforgotten (Fastnet Rock), who cost $2.75 million. She is already in the Hunter Valley for her first season.

“She’s going to go to I Am Invincible. We thought we’d get her in foal and then bring her home. That’s the plan and she’s up in the Hunter now and ready to go, so hopefully, she will get bred in the next week or 10 days,” Fairgray said.

Above: Unforgotten was purchased for $2.75 million

Express plans

While those two mares are both likely to go outside the Yulong stallions, the vast majority of the other purchases will go to either Grunt or Alabama Express.

Another Dollar (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}), the G3 Premier’s Cup winner and G1 Queensland Oaks placegetter who cost Yulong $700,000, will head to Alabama Express in her first year, as will stakes-placed Storytime (NZ) (Savabeel), who cost $575,000 at the Gold Coast and is in foal to I Am Invincible.

The Redoute’s Choice-Zabeel (NZ) cross was also a decisive factor in sending Glitzabeel (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}), the dam of G1 Schweppes Oaks winner Princess Jenni (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}), who was purchased for $400,000, to Alabama Express.

The success of the mixture of the bloodlines of Redoute’s Choice and Hussonet (USA), something Fairgray has plenty of experience with from his time at Arrowfield, is the driving force behind the decision to send Listed-winning mare Blue Morpho (Hussonet {USA}), a $450,000 Gold Coast buy, to Alabama Express as well.