TOOWOOMBA’S week of sporting headlines continued yesterday when the region’s burgeoning thoroughbred breeding industry leapt back into the spotlight.

Hot on the heels of Nathan Allen’s brilliant Stawell Gift success and Will Power’s history-making Champ Car victory, Ron and Debbie Gilbert put Westbrook’s Highgrove Stud family on the map when they bought a $1.6 million yearling filly to add to their farm’s breeding stock.

Her price tag was one of the highest yet seen for a filly at the annual Australian Easter Yearling Sales in Sydney.

The filly will race with trainer John Hawkes before coming to Highgrove where she will add to the Downs breeding profile with her Redoute’s Choice–African Rain bloodlines.

She has a super pedigree, and is a cracking sort – everything is right about her,” Ron said.



RON Gilbert reckons he might have to now start working Sundays.

But after splurging $1.6 million on a filly at yesterday’s opening day of the 2007 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sales in Sydney he is confident it was money well spent.

Gilbert, and his wife Debbie, parted with one of Australia’s biggest pay cheques for a yearling filly when they bought the daughter of Redoute’s Choice and African Rain as a long-term breeding investment for their boutique Highgrove Stud farm at Westbrook.

In a frenetic day of bidding for the cream of yesterday’s 241 lots, Highgrove recouped some of its investment when it sold the first of its four sale offerings to Woodlands Stud for $550,000.

They will both leave here on the same float and she will be broken in at Belmont Park,’‘ Ron said of his $1.6m purchase which will be trained by Woodlands Stud’s private trainer John Hawkes.

She is an outstanding filly, as you would obviously expect after paying $1.6 million for her.

She has a super pedigree, and is a cracking sort – everything is right about her.

We will race her first, and long term she has been bought as a breeding investment.’‘

We are getting very strict with the quality of mares we are running on the farm and this filly is the type of pedigree we’re aiming at.”

Gilbert opened yesterday’s bidding at $1 million and beat off challenges from Arrowfield Stud and underbidder, Darley, before securing her.

We all knew she was a $1 million filly, but I was hoping to get her for maybe $1.2 million,” Gilbert said.

But our Falbrav–Angelic Smile colt sold above expectations, so while you are selling in a strong market you must expect to be buying in one.’‘

Gilbert said yesterday’s opening session of the three-day sale produced a strong top-end market.

The sale is very strong for good types, but I’d also have to say it’s probably a bit softer for others.”

Yesterday’s purchase is the second foal from African Rain.

Her first, by Rock Of Gibraltar, is an unraced two year old and is also with Hawkes.

African Rain is by Woodman and being by Redoute’s Choice, her breeding is similar to Miss Finland who is also out of a Woodman mare,” Gilbert said.

That is one of her many ticks.

It’s a long-term project, but if she manages to win a Group One for us on the track she will be worth three times what we paid for her.”

Highgrove will sell three more lots tomorrow, while Gilbert is eyeing off several more buys.

There’ll be no more $1.6 million purchases I hope – I’ll have to start working Sunday to pay for this one,” Gilbert joked.

But we’re interested in picking up a couple more good buys.”

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