Steve Moran

Seabrook cautiously optimistic as Karaka 2019 nears

Thus, Andrew Seabrook – New Zealand Bloodstock’s managing director – is understandably “optimistic” that the country’s major sale will be highly successful following on from the buoyant outcome at the Gold Coast Magic Millions. “I’d say cautiously optimistic,” he said to marginally qualify expectation.

“The Gold Coast was very strong. Perhaps surprisingly so given general economic indicators but it was certainly a good start to the sales season and that usually follows on to later sales.

“That, of course, gives me some confidence but much of the demand on the Gold Coast is driven by the huge money on offer for their sales races.

“We were up 20 per cent last year with the new selling format and I’d be thrilled if we could match the figures achieved last year.”

Karaka Book 1 turnover last year (700 lots catalogued) was $83,549,000, at an average of $155,007 across 539 horses sold at a median of $110,000, with all key measures – turnover, median, average and clearance – surpassing the Premier, Select and Festival Sales combined results in 2017.

“Last year’s sale exceeded all expectations,” Seabrook added. “One of the keys in designing the new format was to retain international buyers onsite for longer and that worked with a very strong clearance rate on day four. So we are happy to run with the same format this year.

“Of course, the excellent 2018 result came off the back of a very strong Ready To Run Sale, which helped the middle market and that’s not the case this year. However the value here is still going to be great. We’ve always promoted this sale on the basis of the great value it offers and that won’t change.”

To wit, the world’s best miler Beauty Generation sold for $60,000 at the 2014 Select Sale. He has a half sister, by Tavistock, offered by Carlaw Park (Lot 443) next week. Beauty Generation, sold by Highden Park to Hermes Syndications, runs in the Group 1 Stewards Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday and shoots for a tenth Group win this season and last.

Beauty Generation has been the highest profile international performer this season, of Karaka graduates, along with Trelawney Stud’s Grunt and Lyndhurst Farm’s Mr Stunning.

“Beauty Generation is an outstanding horse and the best miler bred in this country since the great Sunline,” Seabrook said. “We have many horses who will appeal to the Hong Kong market and many more for Australia which is our most significant market.

“There’s a lot of quality offerings from established stallions like Savabeel, Tavistock and Pins, but importantly many others are also doing well including Iffraaj, Makfi, Per Incanto, Darci Brahma, Showcasing, Zacinto and the top Australian stallions are also represented.

“Ocean Park and Reliable Man have had a really good last month or two so I can now see them having a pretty strong sale, and I’m sure there’ll be considerable interest in the first yearlings offered by horses including Mongolian Khan and Contributer.”

NZB does have the bonus, this year, that two of the country’s biggest and most successful consignors – Waikato and Cambridge Studs – are selling exclusively at Karaka. “That’s a big thing for us. Both are highly successful operations and if you want their product, you’ll have to come to New Zealand,” Seabrook said.

Waikato is home, of course, to Savabeel, Ocean Park, Sacred Falls, Tivaci and Rock ’N’ Pop, while Cambridge Stud most notably stands Tavistock among others.

Timing is everything and it seems to be the clock is in Waikato’s favour with Supera, last weekend, becoming Savabeel’s 85th stakes winner and 11th for the season. Ocean Park’s son Clement Legend won his fourth straight race in Hong Kong on Wednesday while his daughter Senrima Tide won at Sandown.

The Mick Price trained Ocean Park filly Oceanex seeks a third straight win at Flemington this Saturday while Heir Of Tavistock (Tavistock); Necessitas (Zacinto); Black Sail (Savabeeel); Matowi (Ocean Park); Epaumada (Epaulette); Belle Roc (Rip Van Winkle); Wonder If (Iffraaj) and Shaq (Savabeel) are all New Zealand-bred last-start winners running in Australia on Saturday.

Three have siblings on sale – Lot 285 is the half to Epaumada; Lot 357 the half to Excessabeel and Lot 520 the full to Matowi.

Meanwhile the Waikato Stud bred Probabeel, owned by Brendan and Jo Lindsay’s Cambridge Stud, is the likely favourite for the Karaka Million on 26 January. “The race day (January 26) has added to the lure of coming to New Zealand at this time and the support of the Auckland Racing Club has been excellent,” Seabrook said.

While New Zealand racing may still be in need of a domestic boost, there is “some light at the end of the tunnel” according to Seabrook following the release of the Messara report last year.

Seabrook also said that final approval was granted, last Friday, for the construction of a hotel at the Karaka sales complex. “We’ve had to jump through some hoops but we have the go ahead now and we’ll begin to break ground in February after the sales,” he said. The Hotel will be the Double Tree by Hilton.

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