Big Brown two year-old Southern Icon attracted offers from Hong Kong within minutes of his winning debut at Ruakaka on Wednesday.
Southern Icon (2g Big Brown – Cataclopse by Catbird) settled behind the speed and then lengthened to score by more than a length from Johnhro (Lonhro) in the Redwood 2YO Challenge (800m).
The Matamata youngster is trained by Alan Tait for his wife Galene and stable client Mike Collinson. They bought him as a yearling from Vinery (as agent) for $55,000 at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions.
“The Hong Kong agents were wasting their time,” Galene Tait said. “There were a couple of highly-rated horses in the race but he dealt with them. He could have led but dropped the bit as soon as Robbie (Hannam) took a hold.
“We’ve liked him right from the start and were very confident today. After his first gallop last year, Alan reckoned he was better than Southern Lord! He doesn’t usually say things like that.”
Southern Lord (Stratum) won a Ruakaka maiden for the Taits in July last year and came back to claim the Group 1 Levin Classic at Otaki in November.
Southern Icon pulled up well after his debut and will stay in work at Matamata. “They race at Ruakaka right through winter,” Galene Tait explained. “He’s a special horse and we’re pretty sure the asking price will keep going up.”
Big Brown’s first southern crop bred at Vinery are beginning to emerge at the back end of the two year-old season. His Sydney-based gelding Bomber Brown won the Juvenile Stayers Hcp (1800m) at Rosehill last Saturday week and trainer David Payne will set him for the G1 Victorian Derby in November.
Big Brown won a two year-old maiden on grass at Saratoga but came into his own at three winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. His Bluegrass bred progeny are going in the same direction with 7 stakes winners to date.
Vinery will stand Big Brown for a $16,500 (inc gst) service fee this year.
Hoofnote: Dartbrook Downs studmaster Barry McDonald has catalogued a Manhattan Rain half-sister to Southern Icon as Lot 7 at the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale this Sunday.