ZHANG YUESHENG’S YuLong Investments, an emerging force in the global racing and breeding industry, made a big impression on the market at this week’s Tattersalls July Sale by signing for 12 mares at a total of 840,000gns in association with Australian agent Sheamus Mills.
To cap off the week, his two-year-old filly Yulong Baobei, saddled by Michael Halford and one of two horses he has in training in Ireland, was a ready winner of the Listed Tipperary Stakes yesterday.
The 12 mares purchased at Tattersalls are due to be shipped back to Zhang’s YuLong Farm in Victoria, but not before 11 of them have been covered to southern hemisphere time by the likes of Invincible Spirit and Frankel later this year.
“We wanted access to these stallions in the northern hemisphere,” says Mills “It just so happened that the Tattersalls catalogue came out and looked pretty handsome for us. It was just the blood we wanted at the time we wanted it. Then Brexit helped us out even more – we suddenly got ten pence more for our dollar.”
Zhang, who owns a coalmine, a wind farm and his own racecourse among other business interests in China, took his Australian bloodstock interests to the next level when purchasing YuLong Farm in late 2015. The property, formerly Cheval Park, used to belong to Michael Bryant, an equine chiropractor whose patients included unbeaten antipodean wondermare Black Caviar.
“Mr Zhang started purchasing horses in Australia a couple of years ago,” explains Mills.
“He was already breeding horses in China, where he built his own racetrack and stands three of his own stallions.
“A lot of work has been done on the farm in a fairly short period of time but there’s still plenty more to come. Once he put Scott Williamson in place as farm manager it was full steam ahead.
“All the mares he’s bought at Tattersalls will go back to Australia once they’ve been covered,” continues Mills.
“They were bought to access both female and male bloodlines that we in Australia can’t get much of. There aren’t many well-bred daughters of Shamardal and Dubawi going around back home.
“Invincible Spirit was the driving force behind the whole thing as Mr Zhang is a massive fan of his son I Am Invincible. He bought nine yearlings by him this year and he’s probably his favourite stallion.”
Another stallion who has caught the eye of Mills and Zhang is Frankel, with at least one of the mares purchased this week due to visit the Banstead Manor resident, who took his record to six winners from six runners with Seven Heavens at Ascot on Friday.
“It’s hard when you retire with such expectation,” says Mills. Generally these hype horses can only disappoint. That pressure would have been there with Frankel but he’s six from six – they might just have his genes. Frankel is held in such high regard worldwide, all rhyme or reason is put aside when it comes to him.”
The July Sale is not the first time Zhang has made an impact at a British sale, having parted with £120,000 for Callender at the boutique Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot, where the son of Exceed And Excel went on to finish fifth to Ardad in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
On Zhang’s involvement in racing in Britain and Ireland, Mills says: “He definitely plans to race here more, he had a ball at Royal Ascot. He’s an absolute horse enthusiast. Mr Zhang is the first person in the sales complex in the morning and will watch almost every lot go through the ring.
“He left the races on Thursday to go back to Tattersalls to look at more horses as I wasn’t finding enough for him! Although there’s no burning desire to expand his breeding operation to the northern hemisphere I think he’ll be buying more yearlings and proven horses to race over here.”
As far as Zhang’s breeding interests go it may well be the northern hemisphere’s loss is the southern hemisphere’s gain, with ambitious plans in place at YuLong Farm.
“He wants to establish an all-round business, the idea is to make it as sustainable as possible,” says Mills.
“He’s looking to have 30 or 40 good-quality mares in Australia. He plans on taking drafts of foals and yearlings to the sales in future years, and he wants to stand a stallion too.
“He’s got a lovely Sebring colt called Yu Long Sheng Hui who’s two wins from two starts and the trainer – Mick Price – has aspirations for the Caulfield Guineas in October. In a perfect world he may become a stallion.
“If he could get to the point where he had a broodmare band being covered by his own stallion, producing yearlings both to sell at auction and for him to race, that would be ideal.
“Mr Zhang loves Exceed And Excel, he loves Medaglia D’Oro and he loves I Am Invincible, so there are enough stallions he really rates that stand in Australia or shuttle to there,” says Mills.
“But I think there’s a pretty reasonable chance he will be back in Britain. As long as there are stallions he can’t access in the southern hemisphere, coming here and buying mares to send to those stallions is clearly his best way of getting to them.”
With a growing band of well-bred mares supporting an ambitious breeding operation and a passion for racing that simply can’t be bought, the YuLong banner under which Zhang operates is a name that’s likely to be around for a long time to come.
Who the YuLong Investment July Sale buys are going to be covered by to southern hemisphere time this year
Lake Hamana (bought for 210,000gns) – Frankel
Next Meeting (90,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Vicennalia (80,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Paper Round (80,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Harlech (60,000gns) – Golden Horn
Caricature (58,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Kahara River (55,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Zaina Rizeena (55,000gns) – Invincible Spirit
Mediation (36,000gns) – Muhaarar
Nombeko (16,000gns) – Golden Horn
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