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Key Figures Hold Steady At NZB Premier

Jack Keene | 09.03.2017

The key statistics at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale held steady on the back of last year’s record-breaking auction.

The two-day sale, which is the feature event of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale Series, has seen marked growth over the past two years, with the 2015 aggregate of NZ$44,962,500 shattered in 2016 when 316 lots realised NZ$55,687,500.

This year, the aggregate increased by five per cent to NZ$58,407,500, with 338 lots selling at a slightly lower average of NZ$172,803 (from NZ$176,226), though the median and clearance rate were identical to last year at NZ$140,000 and 78 per cent respectively.

A colt by O’Reilly (Last Tycoon), catalogued as Lot 10,  was the top lot at the sale, selling to a partnership of Alan Bell, Newgate Farm and the China Horse Club for NZ$825,000.

David Ellis maintained his position as the leading purchaser at Karaka across the two-day auction, buying 26 lots for a total spend of NZ$4,197,500 at an average of NZ$161,442, including the sixth top lot, an Exceed And Excel (Danehill) colt catalogued as Lot 312  from the Cambridge Stud draft who fetched NZ$625,000.

Waikato Stud were once again leading vendor by aggregate, selling 45 lots for NZ$8,415,000 at an average of NZ$187,000, while Beltana Stud were leading vendor by average (with three or more lots sold), with their three lots realising an aggregate of NZ$1,235,000 at an average of NZ$411,667.

The recent success of I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) was replicated at the New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale, with Yarraman Park’s sire leading the way with his three lots selling for NZ$885,000 at an average of NZ$295,000.


Domestic Market On The Decline

New Zealand Bloodstock managing director Andrew Seabrook was pleased with the overall results at the Premier Yearling Sale.

However, following a decline in the domestic spend at the Sale and the subsequent Select Yearling Sale and National Yearling Sale’s, he said the industry in New Zealand had to work hard to improve results.

“The compelling international buying bench was a noteworthy feature of the Sales Series,” Seabrook told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Although the Premier Sale held sound on last year’s record-breaking sale, unfortunately the current state of our flat domestic racing industry has had a negative effect on the Select and Festival Sale, traditionally underpinned by the domestic buyers.

“Whilst the Australian spend increased by nearly NZ$6,000,000, New Zealand purchases were down significantly on last year.”

Seabrook was thankful, however, for the unwavering support of several local purchasers, such as syndicators David Ellis of Te Akau Racing and Albert Bosma of Go Racing.

“Once again, we are grateful to the New Zealand syndicators such as Te Akau’s David Ellis and Go Racing’s Albert Bosma,” Seabrook said.

“David Ellis has been the leading buyer at Karaka since I can remember, whilst Albert Bosma continues to support the Sales to a higher level each year.”

Seabrook welcomed the recent announcement from New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing that a minimum stake of NZ$10,000 per race has come into effect from 1 March in New Zealand, but he feels there is still more work to be done.

“New domestic initiatives such as the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club are notable and could develop into substantial contributors to the industry as a whole,” he said.

“Domestic spend was down NZ$7,000,000 on 2016 and that trend may continue unless we see a real injection of prize money.

“It’s a positive that minimum stake money has increased to NZ$10,000. I’m sure if that announcement had been made before the Sales, more trainers and owners might have been encouraged to be active at Karaka. Let’s hope there is further good news regarding prize money in the months ahead.”

This is a sentiment shared by David Ellis, who told ANZ Bloodstock News that the New Zealand racing industry had to make the sport a more attractive proposition to potential local owners.

“It was disheartening to see the New Zealand spend drop by so much but unfortunately that probably won’t change until our prize money increases,” Ellis said.
“I hope the government and the powers that be recognise that whilst the Premier Sale held up thanks to the international buyers, the domestic buyers were clearly lacking, especially at the Select sale.  
“New Zealand Bloodstock has done its job in adding a NZ$1,000,000 three-year-old race to its Karaka Million night, but we now need the governing body to ensure prize money across the board starts to increase. This will undoubtedly become an important election issue in election year in New Zealand.”

Leading Australian buyer Alan Bell, the former chairman of Racing NSW who was involved with Newgate Farm and China Horse Club in the purchase of the top lot at the Sale, said New Zealand should look to the investment in the grassroots of the sport in Australia for inspiration.
“If you look at what New Zealand Bloodstock had to say (about the recent sales) they’ve lost a lot of buying power in New Zealand,” Bell told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“The domestic market place is very weak. New Zealand has always been a primary producer and a feeder nation for the region, whether that be Australia or South East Asia.

“I think they have to get their own house in order in respect to racing and prize money, I’m not the first to say it.

“It’s going to take a change to the prize money structure to really feed into the acquisition of better breeding stock.

“When I was chairman at Racing NSW, one of our main strategic objectives was to restore the grassroots of the sport, and I think in New Zealand they’ve been very slow to do that.

“It’s clearly very welcome news that they’ve finally announced a minimum of NZ$10,000 in prize money per race and it’s a good step on their road to recovery and I wish them all the best with that and I hope they do restore their position because it’s certainly been flagging lately.”


Ellis Leading Purchaser Again

Despite the difficulty in which the New Zealand market finds itself, Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis once again threw his support behind the Premier Yearling Sale and was leading purchaser across the two days.

The founder of Te Akau purchased 26 lots at the Premier Yearling Sale in total, for a spend of NZ$4,197,500 at an average of NZ$161,442.

Ellis has enjoyed a great deal of success at Karaka in recent years, purchasing subsequent stallions Darci Brahma (Danehill) (purchased for NZ$1,100,000), Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice) (NZ$1,300,000), Rock ‘n’ Pop (Fastnet Rock) (NZ$1,000,000) and Xtravagant (Pentire) (NZ$375,000) at the auction since 2004.

“Te Akau bought 26 yearlings and the reason that we keep going back to Karaka is because we have bought so many good horses out of the sale over the years,” Ellis told ANZ Bloodstock News.  

“Next season we will have seven horses that I have bought at Karaka that are standing at stud.  Darci Brahma, Champion sire on many occasions in Singapore and currently second leading sire in New Zealand, exciting young sires Burgundy and Rock ’n’ Pop plus the very exciting young stallion Xtravagant, among others. So we keep going back to the source of our success.”

The Te Akau syndicate has a championship-winning stable in New Zealand, but it is also strongly represented in Singapore, and Ellis said a variety of performers had been bought at this year’s auction for both operations.

“This year as usual we bought for our New Zealand and Singapore stable both of which have won premierships in the last 18 months, and I am sure with the quality we bought this year our results can only improve,” Ellis said.

“This year we bought some precocious two-year-old types, some lovely three-year-old types and some Derby and Oaks sort of horses that would be able to train on to be cup horses as four-year-olds.  

“After the sale these horses all came down to Te Akau Stud and we are currently selling shares in them. We have been truly humbled by the interest from international buyers and local clients, and many first time owners who want to invest with us and already nearly 90 per cent of the horses have already been sold.”

Ellis is eager to see what his purchases can achieve on the track, including Lot 111,  a Tavistock (Montjeu) colt who cost NZ$220,000 and was bought with Classics in mind.

“Among the horses I purchased that really excite me going forward was Lot 21 an O’Reilly filly out of Zantelagh, Lot 55 a Darci Brahma colt out of Aterballetto and a stunning, magnificent Savabeel colt out of Bunyah, Lot 76 that we bought for NZ$165,000.

“Also Lot 111 a Tavistock colt out of Danart looks to have the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby written all over him.”

The top lot across the two days was a son of the late Waikato Stud stallion O’Reilly (Last Tycoon), who was bought by a partnership consisting of Alan Bell, Newgate Farm and the China Horse Club for NZ$825,000 out of the Beltana Stud draft.

Catalogued as Lot 10,  the affiliates struck the winning bid to secure the brother to Shamexpress, and Bell said it was a one-off alliance to ensure the colt would head home with them.

“It was just a one off for that horse. We thought he might take a bit of buying and we all liked him, so we clubbed together,” Bell told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Of course, we are involved together with Deep Field, who I raced with Kia-Ora Stud and he went to stand at Newgate, so we do have a stallion together and it’s been very successful, so we were more than happy to work together.

“John Hutchinson from Scone Bloodstock services did the first checks and that was one of the colt’s he really liked, we felt that he was the standout colt of the sale.

“He was one of the first horses I saw when I arrived and we are very happy to get involved with him.”

Sydney-based Duncan Ramage also made his presence felt at the sale, with his DGR Thoroughbred Services purchasing eight lots for NZ$1,710,000 at an average of NZ$213,750.

Ramage purchased just three lots at the sale 12 months ago, but he said genuine Group One performers could be found at Karaka’s Premier session.

“There are always quality horses and Group One winners to be sought out at Karaka, nothing has changed there,” he told ANZ Bloodstock News.

Ramage was adamant that he would leave the sale with Lot 447,   a Savabeel (Zabeel) colt out of the dual Group One-winning mare The Jewel (O’Reilly) who he purchased for NZ$400,000.

“We only buy horses we want, never horses we can happen to afford, so they are all equal under our criteria,” he said.

“But we waited and made sure we had some budget left for the end of the sale to buy Lot 447, the beautifully bred Savabeel colt out of the top class mare The Jewel.”

Ramage also made the successful bid of NZ$475,000 to secure Lot 181, a Frankel (Galileo) colt out of the dual Group Three winner Give Me Five (Monsun), making the yearling a half-brother to the Ascot Gold Cup (Gr 1, 2m4f) winner Colour Vision (Rainbow Quest).

“Also, to buy a Frankel colt from a Group-winning and Group One-producing daughter of Monsun below what many in the the market expected was a very welcome surprise,” he said.

“Then to hark back to my opening statement that all are horses are equal, to buy our first acquisition of the sale Lot 141 a Pins colt for just NZ$60,000, that is equally pleasing as we are doing our due diligence as well.”


Interest Remains High In Local Sires

While the New South Wales-based I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) was leading sire, with his three yearlings catalogued selling for NZ$885,000 in total, interest in New Zealand-based stallions remained high.

Savabeel (Zabeel) was leading local sire, with 52 lots by the Waikato Stud resident achieving an aggregate of NZ$11,460,000 at an average of NZ$220,385, and the sixth leading sire overall.

The headline sale for the stallion, who is on course to be named champion sire in New Zealand for the third consecutive year, was Lot 58,  a September-foaled filly out of the Group One-winning Banchee (Oratorio (IRE)) going to Godolphin for NZ$750,000 from the Pencarrow Stud draft.

Mark Chittick, of leading vendor Waikato Stud, told ANZ Bloodstock News that Savabeel’s proven track record in Group races meant he would continue to prove popular with purchasers.

“Savabeel continues to be a wonderful servant for New Zealand as a whole,” Chittick said.

“He is an incredibly versatile sire who is producing Group winners across all ages and distances.  It is very important for a country like New Zealand, and for a farm like Waikato Stud, to have such an influential sire.

“I think it’s a case that buyers will always be as keen as ever to buy progeny of extremely successful proven stallions.

“It is a real positive to have new players such as Godolphin investing in New Zealand. They made it quite clear they were here to buy top class Savabeel fillies.”

Waikato Stud’s draft achieved marginally better results this year compared to 12 months ago, with 45 lots selling, the same as last year, for an aggregate of NZ$8,415,000 compared to NZ$8,257,500 at last January’s corresponding Sale.

While Chittick found it difficult to compare drafts, he was confident in the quality of the stock that Waikato Stud sent through the ring.

“We breed the whole draft ourselves and it is so hard to objectively compare one draft against another from year to year,” he said.  

“What I do know is that it will prove to be another draft that again produces a lot of horses that will make us proud on the racetrack.

“We look forward to each and every horse we sell making the racetrack and we follow their careers extremely closely.

“It’s what we do. We continually try to breed the best racehorses we possibly can. It’s our business and what our success depends on.”

The leading first season sire was also New Zealand-based, with 13 lots by Windsor Park’s Shamexpress (O’Reilly) selling for a total aggregate of NZ$2,502,500 at an average price of NZ$192,500.

The seven-year-old, who won the 2013 Newmarket Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) at Flemington, has covered 357 mares in New Zealand since entering stud in 2014, and Rodney Schick of Windsor Park told ANZ Bloodstock News that he feels Shamexpress has a bright future as a stallion.

“There are some nice young sires starting to emerge here in New Zealand and we’ve got a lot of faith in Shamexpress so it’s fantastic to see our confidence backed up by many good judges,” Schick said.

“He’s been particularly well-received by the Australian buyers, who got to see first-hand what an explosive sprinter he was, and to average NZ$192,500 off the back of a NZ$16,000 service fee is a nice reward for those that have supported him.”

Shamexpress’ top lot at the Premier Yearling Sale was a white colt, catalogued as Lot 449,  who is out of a winning three quarters-sister to the champion and Windsor Park-bred Might And Power (Zabeel), whose career victories included the Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m), Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) and Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m).

Sale Boosted By Overseas Buyers

A fascinating feature of this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale was the increased presence of overseas buyers, namely from Dubai.

Godolphin chief executive John Ferguson attended the two-day Sale for the first time and purchased three fillies by Savabeel (Zabeel) for a total spend of NZ$1,220,000.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s Andrew Seabrook said the presence of Ferguson was a fillip for the sale, and that he was hopeful he would attend again in future.

“The increase in international presence was a highlight of Karaka 2017 and proves the high regard New Zealand thoroughbreds are held in on the world stage,” Seabrook told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“The increased participation from Dubai is an encouraging development for an already strong international buying bench here at Karaka.

“It’s the first time Godolphin’s John Ferguson has been to Karaka and he walked away with three nice Savabeel fillies. He really enjoyed his time down here and I’m sure we will see him again.”

David Ellis concurred with Seabrook, and felt that the presence of Godolphin and Shadwell was a welcome boost to the New Zealand breeding industry.

“It was a very interesting Premier sale and it was wonderful to see John Ferguson down here for the first time buying for Godolphin,” Ellis said.

“To all reports he loved his time at Karaka and ended up buying three top quality fillies. To see Shadwell and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum also on the result sheet is testament to how international this sale has become.

“There were also a lot of Australians here, in fact the most I can recall seeing at a Karaka sale. New Zealand Bloodstock should be congratulated on the wonderful job it did in promoting the sale to every corner of the world.”  

While Alan Bell agreed it was a boost to the top-end of the industry to attract such interest from overseas, he maintained it was in the interest of New Zealand’s bloodstock and racing industries to improve the grassroots of the sport.

“I think it helps hugely (to have buyers from Dubai) right at the top end. The good horses and the big capital are very mobile, the good horses can chase the prize money all around the world and the leading players will chase the good horses all around the world, wherever they happen to be offered,” Bell told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“New Zealand’s role in all of this is to restore their grassroots so that it becomes economically viable again for local breeders to afford a better mare, put a better cover into her and to produce a horse that the middle to high end of the market really wants.

“That is their challenge but I think they’re up to it.”

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