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A peripatetic journey to the top for HK$7.8-million son of Deep Field

Bren O’Brien charts the progress of the Deep Field two-year-old who secured the top price of HK$7.8 million (AU$1.45 million) in Saturday’s Hong Kong International Sale.

Conceived in the Hunter Valley, foaled in Tasmania, sold in Victoria and now sold again for a Sale-topping HK$7.8 million in Hong Kong, this gelded son of Deep Field has taken quite the circuitous route to his status as the most expensive of the 17 horses offered at the HKIR at Sha Tin on Saturday.

Certainly the success of Deep Field, highlighted by Group One winner Sky Field, contributed to the level of interest in Lot 11, but in his own right, the horse has stood out ever since arriving as a foal in August 2019.

A few months prior, father and son team Graeme and Bart McCulloch of Tasmanian-based Grenville Stud, had gone searching for a broodmare in foal with the sort of cover which could bolster their yearling drafts in years to come.

They went to the Inglis Broodmare Sale in Sydney in May 2019 and picked out a More Than Ready mare named Bousquet for just $40,000. In foal to Deep Field, she had been a three-time winner over sprint distances and was herself out of a Group Two-winning mare.

At that point, Deep Field’s first progeny had just hit the track, with 21 first-season winners, second best of any stallion that season in Australia. By the time that the Deep Field-Bousquet colt would go through the ring as a yearling in 2021, his sire’s star was even more on the rise.

In 2019/20, the son of Northern Meteor had re-written the record books with the most ever winners for a second-season Australian sire, 86, while he also began to make his mark in Hong Kong, with five winners that same campaign. That success had rolled on in 2020/21, where he had 119 winners in Australia and 10 in Hong Kong.

There was no shortage of Deep Field progeny available at the time –  he was the busiest stallion Australia from 2015 until 2020 – but the success in Hong Kong put an extra edge on the commercial appeal of his yearlings.

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The Deep Field x Bousquet as a yearling colt. (Photo: Grenville Stud)

The McCullochs took a draft of just two yearlings to the 2021 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, one of which was the Deep Field colt out Bousquet.

Up until the 2021 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, when the McCullochs presented the Deep Field colt for sale, Grenville Stud’s best result at a yearling sale had been $200,000, so while expectations were high, the mood was realistic.

However, that was quickly blown out of the water as bidders went to war for the Deep Field colt later on the second day of the Sale. Significantly, it was two Hong Kong buyers who fought it out for him, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, represented by Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock, seeing off Ricky Yiu, going to $550,000.

It was a momentous occasion for the McCullochs, who celebrated well into the night.

Speaking afterwards, it was clear that Rounsefell was prepared to go significantly higher if needed, describing the Grenville-bred colt as ‘a perfect animal for Hong Kong’.

Yue Yun Hing after the purchase of the Deep Field gelding (Photo: HKJC)

At that stage, Rounsefell was in his second year of buying for the Hong Kong Jockey Club, sourcing horses for the International Sale, and the progeny of Deep Field has figured high in his thinking. The HKJC has bought five Deep Field colts in the three seasons Rounsefell has overseen their Australian purchases.  

Deep Field produces typically fast horses, adept on all tracks and with a maturity profile which sees them improve through their three and four-year-old seasons. In many ways, he is the perfect stallion for Hong Kong. His results back that up.

He recently set a new seasonal progeny earnings record in Hong Kong in a campaign where he has had 14 winners, so it was also no great surprise then to see Lot 11 at the top of affairs on Saturday.

Yue Yun Hing, who has raced notable horses like Panfield with Tony Millard and Butterfield with Danny Shum, was the buyer who won out.

The challenge is now there for whichever trainer takes control of the clearly gifted gelding, likely to feature the phrase ‘field’ somewhere in his name, to write the next chapter of his peripatetic journey. 

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