Champion New Zealand mare Avantage will return to the place of her birth after the nine-time group 1-winning Fastnet Rock 6-year-old created one more record before heading off to the breeding barn, selling for NZ$4.1 million (US$2,877,460), the highest-price ever paid for a mare sold through an online sale.
The Te Akau-owned mare was Sept. 22 purchased for the record sum by global Thoroughbred heavyweight Coolmore after waging a spirited digital bidding duel with a rival, believed to be another growing international powerhouse, from the NZ$2.5 million mark onwards through New Zealand Bloodstock's Gavelhouse platform.
Avantage, at least in the short-term, will remain in the Southern Hemisphere at Coolmore Australia where high-profile shuttler Wootton Bassett is the front-runner to be her first mating while Pierro and Justify have also not been ruled out as potential first-year suitors for the Jamie Richards-trained mare by her buyer Tom Magnier.
The massive sale price, achieved three weeks into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season, continues the surging value of high-end breeding stock as well as an example of the dramatic shift in the way bloodstock is traded through digital means worldwide.
Avantage, who won as a September 2-year-old, took out the Karaka Million as well as nine group 1 races, suffered a career-ending tendon injury last Friday, on the eve of the Tarzino Trophy (G1) at Hastings for which she was favorite.
The shock discovery led to Gavelhouse being employed to offer the valuable mare to an international buying bench.
Te Akau's David Ellis credited NZB for the way it handled the auctioning of Avantage.
"It is a fantastic result and I take my hat off to Joe Walls, the chairman of New Zealand Bloodstock, and (managing director) Andrew Seabrook who put this online Gavelhouse sale together. It has been a huge success," Ellis told ANZ Bloodstock News.
"I am a huge supporter of the New Zealand industry and NZB and I am just so thrilled and proud. They have promoted this mare so professionally; they did such a good job and I am very proud … that it is a world online record.
"We were hoping that she would make $3 million, but to get $4.1 million is terrific, and (I have no doubt that) she is going to be a great broodmare. She won group 1 races at 1,200, 1,400, 1,600, and 2,000 meters."
Avantage's price tag surpasses the online record set a little more than two months ago by the Chris Waller-trained group 1 winner Funstar, who was sold to Japan for AU$2.7 million ($2,016,740) via the Inglis Digital online auction platform, and she also holds the honor of being the third most expensive broodmare sold at auction in the Southern Hemisphere, live or online.
Milanova, who sold for AU$5 million ($4,802,000) in 2008 through an Inglis sale, and Sunlight, who sold for AU$4.2 million ($2,979,431) in 2020, are the two highest-priced mares sold. Incidentally, both were also purchased by Coolmore.
"Congratulations to David Ellis, Jamie Richards, and the connections of this wonderful mare for what they have achieved with her on the track," Magnier said.
"We love Fastnet Rock mares, and she has won more group 1 races than any of them. He is making his presence felt as a broodmare sire throughout the world, and she is one of his best daughters.
"A mare like her needs to go to an elite stallion and thankfully there are a plethora of options for her here at Coolmore, so the likes of Wootton Bassett, Pierro, and Justify will be considered. We look forward to welcoming Avantage back to the farm where she was raised and grazed."
Avantage, a 16-time winner, is a daughter of the listed-winning Asavant (Zabeel), herself a half sister to Hong Kong group 1 winner D B Pin.
A producer of three winners from three to race, Asavant has also produced Asathought, a stakes-placed year-younger half sister to Avantage by So You Think.
Bred by New Zealanders Willie and Karen Calder on a foal share arrangement with Coolmore, the home of her champion stallion Fastnet Rock, Avantage was purchased for NZ$210,000 ($152,544) by Ellis at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale. Of her 16 wins from 28 starts, 13 were at stakes level, as she earned NZ$2.16 million ($1,518,186) in prize money.
Sir Owen Glenn now owns Asavant and the unraced 3-year-old sister to Avantage named Mystic Mermaid who is set to have her first start in a 1,200-meter maiden at the Goulburn provincial meeting in New South Wales on Saturday. She is trained by Chris Waller and she won a Rosehill barrier trial on Sept. 14.
She also has a yearling brother to the pair who is likely to be offered at next year's Inglis Australian Easter Sale and she is due to foal, again to Fastnet Rock, in the next week at Coolmore.
As a broodmare sire Fastnet Rock has produced 46 individual stakes winners, including group 1-winning sprinters Santa Ana Lane, Gytrash, and Tivaci, himself a promising young Waikato Stud-based sire.
Last October, Gavelhouse also sold Spanish Whisper, a three-time group 2 winner who was also successful at 2, for NZ$1,202,500, while Inglis Digital has sold group 1 winner Funstar and, last week, Every Rose, a Keeneland Gimcrack Stakes (G3) and Tab Light Fingers Stakes (G2) winner, for AU$1.3 million.
There haven't been too many "collector item" mares offered to the market in the past few years in the Southern Hemisphere who haven't ended up in the hands of Coolmore.
Magnier bought a swathe of high-end mares in 2019, added Sunlight last year for a Magic Millions National Sale record of AU$4.2 million, and added Mizzy for AU$2.2 million at the Gold Coast this year after buying group 1 winner Celebrity Queen for AU$2.5 million, El Dorado Dreaming for AU$1.35 million, and Savanna Amour for AU$1.25 million at the Chairman's Sale.
This year's highest-priced mare sold through a live auction, Arcadia Queen, made AU$3.2 million when Arrowfield Stud struck a deal with her owner/breeder Bob Peters after she was initially passed in through the Magic Millions sales ring on the Gold Coast in May. Magnier also signed for Telaawa, who was in foal to Exceed And Excel, in partnership with Sir Owen's Go Bloodstock for AU$1.7 million at the same auction.
In Her Time, who was in foal to I Am Invincible, was bought by Yulong at this year's Chairman's Sale for AU$2.2 million as was another Richards-trained New Zealand champion mare in Melody Belle, a 14-time group 1 winner, who made AU$2.6 million at the Magic Millions sale.
In 2020, Coolmore acquired Sunlight, Champagne Cuddles (AU$2 million), and Invincibella (AU$1.3 million) at the Gold Coast and Samaready (AU$1.8 million) and Booker (AU$1.6 million) at the Chairman's Sale and, a year earlier, Maastricht (AU$2.25 million) and Srikandi (AU$2 million).
Global Glamour (AU$1.55 million), Invincible Star, (AU$1.45 million), and Savvy Coup (AU$1 million) also call Coolmore Australia home.