Sport

Yulong spends big on broodmares at Magic Millions

By Meg Saultry

Yulong Stud is fast-tracking its way into the Australian bloodstock industry with a $10 million assault on broodmares at last week’s Magic Millions sales.

That added 12 mares to the Nagambie stud’s breeding program – including paying a whopping $2.55 million for dual Group 1-winning mare Viddora.

Purchased as a yearling for just $40,000, the I Am Invincible daughter has spectacular sprinting genes which saw her collect the Group 1 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley and the WATC Winterbottom Stakes in Perth.

Her final race was at Sha Tin in April last year and she retired with almost $3 million in earnings. She is now in foal to Lope de Vega, which stands in Ireland at a stud fee of 100,000 euros ($A165,232).

She is adding some blue ribbon appeal to Yulong and will headline an increasingly star-studded collection of broodmares.

Yulong will be joined by other big ticket purchases including Australian Oaks winner Unforgotten (Fastnet Rock), which was purchased for $2.75 million, and Group 3 winner Another Dollar (Ocean Park), which cost $700,000.

Yulong is home to promising next-generation stallions Grunt and Alabama Express, as well as Group 1 winner Tagaloa, which is still racing.

Another Yulong purchase arrived at the farm on Sunday. Storytime is in foal to I Am Invincible and due next month.

“We got her for $575,000 which was a good buy,” Yulong bloodstock manager Luke Wilkinson said of Storytime.

With 180 mares and three stallions, Wilkinson said the farm was always on the lookout for gifted stallions.

“We always have prospects coming across the desk and any good ones always catch our attention,” he said.

“And we have a state-of-the-art breeding facility here, which has the capacity for 14 stallions.”

New Zealand-bred Grunt sired 178 foals last year and it seems the current COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed Yulong’s emergence in the industry.

“The thoroughbred industry is pretty resilient,” Wilkinson said.

“COVID-19 might have affected 20 per cent of the market, but those breeding to Grunt and Alabama Express are happy to support Yulong.

“The bookings are fine, the only concerns are the different levels of (hygiene) practice.”

As the operation continues to expand its breeding horizons, Wilkison doesn’t shy away from the fact Yulong is staking a claim as a leading breeder in the Australian market.

“We want to target the best stallions in Australia – it doesn’t matter if that’s in Victoria or not. We’re trying to make this farm the best in Australia,” he said.

“People want Yulong to win at auction – we buy the best broodmares and we give our stallions every opportunity at stud.

“We think it’s great for the industry.”

Yulong is owned by self-made Chinese billionaire Yuesheng Zhang.

His businesses in China include coal mining, wind farms and hotels and he has spent millions on bloodstock and farms. He also staged China’s first thoroughbred sale.

His first visit to the Melbourne Cup in 2013 and again the next year sparked his interest in building an Australian bloodstock enterprise and he makes no secret his vision is to build a leading commercial breeding and racing operation in Australia – and expand Yulong into other world thoroughbred regions.