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Leading bloodstock agents give their predictions on the eve of Karaka 2018

Steve Moran | 27.01.2018

The general outlook, not surprisingly given the weighting to New Zealand based respondents, is positive from the men who’ve inspected most - if not all - of the yearlings in the 700 strong catalogue of Karaka Book One.

And that’s not unreasonable given the general economy, the bullishness of the Magic Millions sale, the success of Savabeel (Zabeel) and what’s perceived to be a strong catalogue.

There was also a unanimous degree of enthusiasm for first season sire Sacred Falls (O’Reilly) and solid endorsement of the offspring of another freshman Charm Spirit (Invincible Spirit) who had four yearling well sold on the Gold Coast.

There was the odd word of caution on the expanded number of offerings in book one but even New Zealand Bloodstock concedes that is a ‘slight risk’.

So what do the bloodstock experts think?

Cambridge agent Phill Cataldo acknowledges that NZB did significant research before making changes to the format and believes it will work. “More horses on the grounds at one time and more selection for buyers should make a good recipe,” he said.

He expects the Karaka Million race meeting to be a winner on the more traditional raceday and is looking forward to the sale beginning on the Sunday night. “I expect the Sunday night session to be a real success. A big build up throughout the day and there are some quality offerings in the first 100 lots,” he said.

Ric Wylie feels the switch to Saturday racing and the larger catalogue is generating its own momentum. “That’s my view and after my first day of previews, I would suggest vendors and the sales company have combined to produce a catalogue that should appeal to the extensive bench of buyers expected to arrive in Auckland,” he said.

Michael Wallace says the expanded book one is a bold move. “However change was most likely required and new ideas should always be appreciated and given due opportunity. The market will ultimately be the sole judge on the success or otherwise of the structure,” he said.

Michael Stedman sees the 700 lots as perhaps 100 too many. “Overall it’s a combo of the previous premier / select format to give better exposure to the top end of select. Major overseas buyers may not stay on past the first couple of days but they can leave orders I guess.

“The changes to the RTR (Ready to Run) format some years ago has been a great success and I was a sceptic so I will probably be wrong again and the old format needed a freshen!

“I feel the race day format will be a great success but I think book one should be 600 maximum with 100 on Sunday evening and then 250 Monday and Tuesday with Book Two starting Wednesday say at 3pm with 100. Then have 250 Thursday and Friday to include best of what is now book 3 which goes. So, 1200 horses in total over six days. Logistics might be an issue but with 10% usually withdrawn it’s feasible,” Stedman said.

Australian agent Sheamus Mills also ponders whether the numbers might be too great.

“Whenever you add more lots you are going to dilute the results a little so I would expect while the gross will be well up the average will probably fall. For me clearance is the key indicator to the strength of any sale so it will be interesting to monitor that.

“As a vendor it’s always disappointing when you are prepared to meet the market and there just isn’t the buying bench there to get the horse sold. Top lots always take care of themselves and I’m sure at that end there will be a good number of really nice horses there.

“I like the changes on the weekend. Saturday is a good day to coincide with Australian races and get a chance to catch up. They do the race day extremely well. The Sunday gives you plenty of time to get prepared before the sale starts and then it’s up to you how deep into the week you want to stay,” he said.

Guy Mulcaster is looking forward to both the ‘new’ races and sales. “We are just finishing our first looks and the quality is solid as would be expected. It would appear there will be some good buying with the increase in numbers but on the whole there’s nice stock,” he said.

“People are looking forward to the races on Saturday which should work nicely in conjunction with the city meetings in Sydney and Melbourne and having Australia day Friday, it would be expected a number of Australian visitors will be seen at Ellerslie.

Brett Howard (Randwick Bloodstock) similarly sees the format working. “I think this is a much better concept and congratulate NZB and their vendors,” he said. “All the horses are there to be inspected and the buyers are now used to wading through catalogues which number 700 plus yearlings. And on Sunday, there’s plenty of time to finalise short lists.”

The likely top lots?

Cataldo: “Lot 261, the half to Kermadec, by Tavistock is a quality colt. Lot 48,  the full sister to Werther, also by Tavistock is sure to create a lot of interest and there is a significant pedigree update with Milseain placing in the Desert Gold Stakes last weekend.”

Wylie: “I think a colt will top the sale and have been impressed with two out of top racemares, who both are by Savabeel, a stallion whose broodmares are doing a great job. The colts are the Fastnet Rock out of Diademe and the Snitzel from Floria.” Lots 156 and 215 respectively.

Wallace: “No idea as yet. Good luck to the buyer and seller of this horse. Savabeel is our current domestic champion sire and shouldn’t or cannot be ignored.”

Stedman: “Colts –  188, Fastnet Rock – Episode; 301 Savabeel – Katie Lee; 441 Tavistock – Octopussy and the fillies looking to 48 Tavistock – Bagalollies; 241 Pierro – Gypsy Chimes; 600 Zoustar – Snow Blitz.”

Mills: “Really hard to pick top lots until you see them all in the flesh but on pedigrees you would think the Fastnet Rock colts out of Diademe and Episode (156 and 188) would be in the running. The two I Am Invincible colts (189 and 472) are of interest as would be the Snitzel x Floria (215) and just about any of the Savabeel colts depending on type. Throw in the Exceed And Excel x Our Ella Belle colt (455) too. Call me after I’ve finished inspections!”

“For fillies I would put the Fastnet Rock/Seachange (561) up a possibility along with those out of Amory Lane (25) and Count Your Fingers (125). Snitzel has fillies out of Scintillula (559) and Shez Sinsational (577) that would go in the mix and Savabeel will popular here too so the fillies out of Glad (231), Jacilo (285) and Joy’s Choice (290) are worth including.”

Mulcaster: “The top lots come down to opinion and nearer to sale day this should become more apparent. I think Savabeel deserves to have a wonderful sale based on recent results.”

Howard: “I wouldn’t be sure at this time, however, it would be fitting if the top priced lot came from the Cambridge Stud draft. If not from Cambridge, then it would be good if the top lot was by a NZ stallion or if by an Aussie stallion, it was bred and raised in NZ.”

Stallions to watch and/or likely to surprise?

Cataldo: “The stock of Sacred Falls have inherited a lot of O’Reilly quality, they move well and have good brains.”

Wylie: “I’ve been taken by the overall quality and athleticism of the Sacred Falls progeny. Have impressed not only myself, but most buyers I have spoken to.”

Wallace: “Charm Spirit and Sacred Falls as highly performed first season stallions should be well respected and received. As a smokey you’d have to be impressed with the stock of Proisir. Off a lower level fee, breeders should see a nice return on investment.”

Stedman: “Savabeel is likely to be the top sire but Fastnet  Rock and Tavistock will contend on average. Charm Spirit and Sacred Falls should fight it out in the first season stocks with Proisir (who’s got good sorts) a bolter!”

Mills: “Taken by the first yearlings by Charm Spirit. Thought he sold really well on the Gold Coast and like stallions that can produce better types than themselves. Zoustar sold exceptionally well for a second season sire and interesting to see how the sole offering by Kingman sells. He was a super star racehorse and as good a type as I have ever seen.”

Mulcaster: “Surprise packet among the stallions? If i say it won’t be a surprise!!!!!”

Howard: “Not sure on this one either, however, outside of the “big NZ guns” Savabeel and Tavistock, there are a few stallions which have been doing a good job over the past few years. Stallions like Iffraaj, Makfi and Per Incanto who they have good sized drafts and their vendors will hopefully be well rewarded at the sale.”

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