Zhang buys in bulk to boost figures at Goffs

Zhang Yuesheng (left) and Mick Donohoe buying at Goffs

PICTURE: Peter Mooney Zhang buys in bulk to boost figures at Goffs
By Aisling Crowe 12:26PM 2 OCT 2016

CHINESE investment brought both parts of this week's Goffs Sportsmans' Sale to life with Zhang Yuesheng the most prominent buyer.

Racing and breeding under his YuLong Investments banner, the Chinese businessman made a big impact this summer following big purchases at Tattersalls and Keeneland. Working with Mick Donohoe of BBA Ireland, Zhang was responsible for the purchase of around 60 yearlings with the majority – 43 – purchased during Part 1 of the Sportsman's Sale.

Zhang's green and white silks and the YuLong prefix are becoming a little more familiar as more of his horses run for Mick Halford, Johnny Murtagh and Eddie Lynam, but this batch of yearlings have a different future ahead of them, as Donohoe outlined.

"They will all go into quarantine shortly for 30 days before they are shipped to China to race," he said. "Mr Zhang has a racecourse and breeding operation at Shangxi and they are headed there."

Donohoe said Zhang was keen to maintain quality despite the quantity.

"It's a huge investment that he's making – he's a very clever guy, a good judge of horseflesh himself and he follows racing all over the world." he said. "The horses he buys have to have pedigrees and good conformation. He doesn't buy just anything."

In a week when the spectre of overproduction re-emerged once more, the presence of international buyers like Zhang offered another outlet for breeders who are struggling to find a market for their horses.

YuLong Investments' reach is global and apart from his massive base in Shangxi, Zheng has bought a stud farm outside Melbourne in Australia. Some of the mares he bought at Tattersalls in July are currently boarding at the Irish National Stud, where they are being covered by Invincible Spirit to southern hemisphere time.

Donohoe was also busy on Zheng's behalf during the Orby Sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, picking up three yearlings who will not be travelling to China.

"We bought the Galileo colt out of Laugh Out Loud for €200,000 and he looked a value buy," he said. "Mr Zheng is a huge admirer of Coolmore and Galileo is the best sire in the world, so he wanted to buy a yearling by him and this colt looks a very nice horse. He'll go into pre-training in Ireland and who will train him will be decided later on."

The son of Galileo will be joined in pre-training by two fillies with top pedigrees who BBA purchased on behalf of YuLong Investments for relatively small prices.

One is a daughter of More Than Ready who comes from one of Ballymacoll Stud's most illustrious families as a granddaughter of Islington. She cost just €62,000 and Donohoe said the other they bought was even better value.

"The Raven's Pass filly is from Kilcarn Stud and we paid just €25,000 for her," he said. "It's one of the best pages around as she is a daughter of Mayenne, which makes her a half-sister to the dam of Banimpire and My Spirit. Mayenne is a daughter of Arc winner Detroit and a three-parts sister to Carnegie, who also won the Arc. The page only has two dams on it – it's full of black type."

They also dipped into the Wildenstein Stables Ltd dispersal late on Wednesday night, buying two of the horses in training including Andrea Mantegna, a son of Giant's Causeway out of Listed winner Adventure Seeker, who will join Michael Halford after his purchase for €72,000.

Zhang has not finished his spending spree on Irish bloodstock as he searches for more horses to satisfy the increased demand for racing at the Shangxi complex he built.

"He'll be back for the Goffs Horses In Training Sale next month, where he will be looking to buy between 20 and 30 horses to bring to China to race," Donohoe added. "It's thanks to the efforts of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Goffs that he, and other Chinese investors, are coming here to the source to buy their racehorses. Irish companies like Red Mills and Bucas are exporting to China and Coolmore have been very good to him, sponsoring races at Shangxi."

The purchasing power of Zhang gave the Sportsman's Sale a vital injection of money and an extra, necessary outlet for breeders to find buyers for their horses in a market where trade was slow.

Now that he has given notice of his intention to return to Goffs in November, it seems certain Chinese investors are set to become increasingly more powerful players on the Irish and international bloodstock scene.

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