23rd May, 2018
Mr. Yuesheng Zhang’s Yulong Investments has been making headlines globally lately, with high-priced auction purchases in Australia, promising runners in Europe and plans to expand into the U.S. Yulong Park also staged the first-ever public auction of Thoroughbreds in Mainland China just last week. The TDN‘s Gary King caught up with Mr. Zhang to discuss these developments.
GK: The name ‘Yulong Investments’ has made a significant impact on the global Thoroughbred industry over recent years. Are you happy with the progress so far?
YZ: Yes, although it has taken a few years to kick-off, the initial few years being more of a trial period while I assessed the industry and respective markets globally. I am happy that we are currently on target to achieving what I have set for the team.
GK: What is your main goal over the next five to 10 years?
YZ: Now that I have managed to form my core team to assist in steering the group in its global equine operations, I have set my five-year goals on establishing a good breeding crop with a worthy stud farm that will eventually stand six to 10 stallions.
GK: You have achieved plenty of success racing horses in Ireland (managed by Michael Donohoe of BBA Ireland). What attracted you to racing in such a competitive country?
YZ: Irish-bred horses have always proven to be solid. It is also a place where I formed many friendships and associations, hence my return to Ireland year after year.
GK: Platinum Warrior, a Galileo colt purchased for €200,000 at Goffs Orby, finished fourth in the G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial for Michael Halford. He looks like a really exciting prospect?
YZ: Hopes are high for this horse and the trainer thinks highly of it indeed. We are definitely hoping that he can be an entry in the Irish Derby with a few other stakes races in mind thereafter too.
GK: You have bred a lot of your European-purchased mares on Southern Hemisphere time over the last few years. What European-based stallions have you used?
YZ: The group currently has Southern Hemisphere weanlings on the ground by Frankel (GB), Invincible Spirit (Ire), Golden Horn (GB) and Kingman (GB), and mares in foal Southern time to Frankel and Kingman. We will continue to breed a few mares each year in the Northern Hemisphere and bring them to Australia.
GK: Your primary focus in terms of breeding appears to be Australia. I presume the plan is to establish a stallion roster at some point?
YZ: The Southern Hemisphere is my current focus for breeding, with Australia being the main focus where I currently have 70 mares based on our properties in Victoria. We also have 20 mares residing in New Zealand. A large number of the mares based in New Zealand are in foal to Preferment (NZ), in which we are vested.
The team and I are in the process of developing a breeding facility at Nagambie and we are looking to secure stallions to stand under the Yulong banner in the very near future.
A large number of mares are sent by Victorian breeders to the Hunter Valley each year to be bred, however, I would like to work towards offering Victorian broodmare owners the opportunity to send their mares to commercial stallions in their home state.
GK: Are you happy with your current broodmare band in Australia (which includes Gypsy Diamond, the A$1.35-million topper at the Inglis Chairman’s Sale)?
YZ: Yes, I am happy with the current broodmare numbers for now. While immediately improving on quality rather than quantity, the next few years will see us expanding our numbers here in Australia to approximately 120 mares. I would like to build a nice band of commercial mares that can be bred to some of the leading stallions in Australia and in turn, to offer their top-quality progeny to the market.
GK: I believe you have dabbled a little bit in partnerships with Phoenix Thoroughbreds. Do you intend to form more partnerships in the future, with some of the big global operations?
YZ: I am open to racing colts in partnership, albeit selectively and particularly those with stallion prospects.
GK: You have three horses in training with Graham Motion. Have you plans to expand your operations in the U.S. at all?
YZ: America is definitely within the group’s expansion plans. Having purchased the three as yearlings, in partnership with Eric Koh’s Team Cheval, Yulong Investments also purchased Wild Dude from America, which ran fourth in this year’s Golden Shaheen in Dubai. When I met Frank [Stronach] during my last visit to Keeneland I also indicated my willingness to support his racing initiatives, including in the Pegasus World Cup.
GK: The first-ever organized Thoroughbred sale for racehorses on the Chinese mainland was held last Friday. Were you happy with how it went?
YZ: Being an inaugural racehorse auction in China, there have been a real mix of reactions and expectations prior to Friday. However, the sales went fantastic with over 61% clearance rate at an average price in excess of RMB 300,000. The highest priced lot sold for RMB 1.35 mil. (US$211,171/£157,485/€179,415). I credit and thank the team for all their effort.
GK: Do you plan on expanding the scope, in both quantity and quality, for future sales?
YZ: The results have now raised expectations throughout the country and I would like to make sure that Yulong continues to set new and higher industry benchmarks and standards.