This sanke landed in the UK at approximately 10cm when imported by Ken Wilkie at The Koi Collection. Along with its siblings, it was hidden out of the way for a short period and grown to around 20cm and then Martin snapped it up - He told me there was a fair bit of interest, but ‘if you snooze you lose’ as they say, and apparently Martin barged in with the tact of a crazed hippopotamus...
There were some lovely koi in this batch I photographed for The Koi Collection, but this one had a pattern that caused a stir and I couldn't refuse an offer to catch up on her progress.
The left shot shows this tiny koi to have wonderful skin quality, almost translucent white skin, even beni - formed in a lovely pattern and sumi lying just under the skin in all the 'right' places. I think it's safe to say all of these attributes have contributed towards the attractive koi we now see as nisai and 45cm.
At location 1 we can see how the skin has thickened on the head and face, leaving the beni clean and attractive. We can also see the appearance of 'chubby cheeks' emerging - a very technical term for an attribute I find rather pleasant as koi mature. Luckily so does Martin!
Location 2 on the left shows what appears to be underlying sumi on the shoulder. On the right we can see that this has disappeared in some places and thickened in others, I imagine in time more of the sumi will appear. Now that the skin has thickened you can also see that the sashi in this area is a little messy and uneven. At this age, however, this is not something to worry about, particularly in the shoulder region. I imagine this will refine and tighten as the koi matures. The koi has also knocked a scale on this second dan (see the lighter shade of red) and the beni suffers in the area, hopefully it will either thicken back up or the sumi will develop to cover the gap...time will tell.
At location 3 you can clearly see how the koi has developed a very strong backbone, hopefully an indication that the frame of the koi will be able to carry size well as it grows. But this goes to show that you can’t necessarily spot such attributes when the koi are very small.
Location 4 shows how the wonderful beni quality has carried through to nisai. Given that this koi has grown so rapidly the beni has fared incredibly well this year and it will look even better after the koi receives a little resting period.
Location 5 points to an area where the sumi has surfaced and thickened on the white ground, the best place to judge its quality. Here, the sumi looks to be very good, additionally it’s appearing in areas that really enhance the pattern of the koi. The shita zumi (sumi beneath the skin) in the left shot would indicate that we can expect the sumi in all the right places, but shita zumi can appear or disappear and so, ultimately, time will tell. But our pinkies are crossed!
This sanke has proven to be a lovely project so far and if it continues in the right direction it will offer a great learning tool for Martin. Buying such small koi of quality is risky business, make no mistake, Martin stuck his neck out here, he took a chance and so far it's paying off...