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Johnson secures quality selection of yearlings

Up-and-coming bloodstock agent William Johnson has wasted no time in making his presence felt on the buyers’ bench at Australia’s premier yearling sales.

After a strong grounding under the tutelage of Group 1-winning trainer Roger Varian and internationally respected bloodstock agent Hubie de Burgh, Johnson established his own business, William Johnson Bloodstock, at the end of 2019.

Within his first few months of operation, Johnson has snapped up more than 30 well-credentialled young horses through Australia’s yearling sale season.

He bought 27 yearlings for leading syndicators Darby Racing, headed by a $250,000 filly by Hinchinbrook during the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

The Darby Racing purchases will be trained by leading Sydney stables including Mark Newnham, Team Hawkes, Bjorn Baker and Ciaron Maher Racing.

“I’m very happy with how the yearling sale season went,” Johnson said.

“It was great to team up with Darby Racing. I’d previously worked with Hubie de Burgh, who has bought yearlings for them in the past. With the travel restrictions in place this year due to Covid-19, it presented me with a good opportunity to build on that relationship during the Australian yearling sale season.

“Scott Darby does a fantastic job syndicating horses, and Darby Racing is an excellent client to be involved with at this early stage of my career. It’s a privilege to be able to give them my input on the yearling purchases in terms of their physical appearance and pedigrees.

“In such difficult circumstances this year, it was a great result to come away with a number of quality yearlings for them, and I’m very pleased that they were able to sell shares in all of those horses very quickly. It shows that, despite the way things are in the world at the moment, racing is still very strong. People are still very interested in racing and want to become involved.

“The yearlings were bought for a diverse range of prices, from $5000 all the way up to $250,000, meaning there was something available for all price brackets of Darby Racing’s clientele. It was a very good result all round.”

Johnson also bought yearlings for a range of other clients, including a group of friends who he had previously brought on board with shares in last year’s Victoria Derby winner Warning (Declaration of War).

“Some of the friends that I’d brought in and got involved with Warning, they were keen to jump on board again with some yearlings this year,” Johnson said. “I was able to secure three nice horses for them.

“I also bought one for a new American client, that will be trained by Michael Freedman.”

The first year of Johnson’s bloodstock consultancy business has presented some unique challenges, but he has enjoyed every minute.

Johnson achieved a notable Derby double, with Warning’s Flemington heroics being followed up in the autumn by Quick Thinker (So You Think) in the Australian Derby at Randwick. Quick Thinker was a $100,000 purchase at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, selected by Johnson in partnership with Hubie de Burgh.

Johnson also brokered the international sale of Group 1 winner Amphitrite (Sebring), following on from previous deals to secure the likes of She Will Reign (Manhattain Rain) and Single Gaze (Not a Single Doubt).

“It’s been a good first year, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge,” he said. “To go through the yearling sale and achieve such strong results for my clients has been very satisfying, along with securing a horse for breeding internationally.

“Despite the travel restrictions at the moment and the global Covid-19 situation, I think it’s shown that it’s still possible to trade horses internationally.”