Week in Rowe-view

NZB in no rush to fill director of sales role

New Zealand Bloodstock remains in no rush to fill the critical role of director of sales following the departure of long-time employee Danny Rolston in June.

With Rolston joining the Hong Kong Jockey Club after giving 18 years’ service to NZB, the auction house has been relying on Sydney based Mike Kneebone, the company’s director of business development, regularly travelling to New Zealand to undertake yearling inspections ahead of the 2023 sales season.

Kneebone told us NZB viewed it as more important to get the recruitment of Rolston’s replacement correct rather than just meeting a timeline.

“I wouldn’t say (we are) closer, but we’ve certainly got our feelers out. We just felt as a board that it’s such a vital time of the year that we’d wait and start making some sort of a move permanently for somebody towards the end of the year or even the start of the next year and I’ll just carry on going backwards and forwards until then,” Kneebone said.

“It’s been working really well and we’re worried about getting the wrong person. We’d rather have no one than the wrong person. 

“We’ve got some good young guys coming through, too, and we want to put them through a bit of a test. 

They’re doing a good job and they might be able to step into a manager’s role, so we just want to keep the ship steady and if someone comes up who we think is really good, then we’ll make an appointment then.

“We just don’t want to rush into it.”


Racing Australia announced its new chief executive Paul Eriksson on Tuesday as the replacement for Myles Foreman.

Understandably, Eriksson played a straight bat to questions this week – read here: http://anz.8qsvvr7ipf-dv13x5oj14gq.p.temp-site.link/i-am-confident-that-racing-australia-will-take-some-significant-steps-forward/ – but let’s hope the board of directors from the nation’s principal racing authorities allow Racing Australia to become something resembling an important peak body.

The former Tasracing CEO said he wanted to meet with the board prior to determining priorities, but it’s clear that they should focus on its part in implementing the recommendations made in the Thoroughbred Breeders Australia-led Thoroughbred Welfare Initiative as well as getting the Pattern Committee back up and running.

Even the casual racing observer will know the Pattern is no longer fit-for-purpose and needs revising, some races need upgrading and others need downgrading or losing black type all together. The status quo has remained for far too long.

It will require cooperation, which hasn’t been forthcoming in recent times, but with Eriksson and new Racing Victoria CEO Andrew Jones, and his apparent breaking of bread with Racing NSW’s Peter V’landys, perhaps there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.


Spicer Thoroughbreds’ Brad Spicer has been a regular buyer in recent years at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, which takes place in Newmarket next month.

The Melbourne-based agent and syndicator may not have yet landed a Russian Camelot (Camelot) – as trainer Danny O’Brien, owner John Wheeler and co did from the 2018 sale – but he is confident in the horses he’s sourced so far.

“I will be heading over for Book 1 at Tattersalls and hopefully I can secure a couple of colts to bring back to Australia, which is something I’ve done since 2018,” he said yesterday. 

“I’ve got some really exciting horses coming through the system. A horse called Captain Britain, who debuted at Geelong the other day, is a really exciting stayer. He is a son of Camelot, he ran second over 1200 metres and it was the run of the meeting.

“We’ve probably got about six in the system now who we think are minimum Saturday grade and possibly Group grade. 

“It does work, but you’ve just got to be patient. You’ve got to wait for the horses to come (mature), but once they get into their four and five-year-old years, you can really reap the benefits.”

Spicer will arrive back in Australia on Friday, October 14, just in time to watch his mare Snapdancer contest The Everest the following day.

To save you looking it up, the Lindsey Smith-trained four-year-old gelding Captain Britain is nominated for maidens at Horsham on Tuesday and Bendigo on Wednesday, both over 1400 metres.

Prominent owner Rupert Legh’s colours of navy blue with gold lightning bolt are hard to escape – he has a host of runners this weekend including Masked Crusader in The Shorts at Randwick – and he has shares in about 50 new-season two-year-olds, so he won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

One juvenile whose early reports have been promising from trainers Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes is the Zoustar colt out of the former Shadwell Stud-owned Group 3-winning filly Khulaasa (Epaulette) who was purchased for $425,000 from January’s Magic Millions Yearling Sale after agent Paul Willetts bought him from the Gold Coast the previous May for $200,000.

Legh was hopeful the colt may have been forward enough for Monday’s official two-year-old barrier trial session at Randwick in Sydney but he was not among the acceptances yesterday.

“We’ve got a Zoustar, who I know John has a very big opinion of, and I asked John if there’s one who may go early and he is one they may have put a bit of a tick on, the Zoustar,” Legh said earlier this week. 

“He’s very well bred, he’s one we absolutely loved at the Gold Coast and he’s one who is putting his hand up at the moment.”

The promising colt has been named Gitalong after the longest ski slope in Vail, Colorado in the United States. 


Is Australian racing in a world of its own or does this week’s booming Keeneland September Yearling Sale in Kentucky – and an uplift in appetite from buyers in Europe – signal what is to come next year’s southern hemisphere sales season?

A little from column A and a little from column B, I’d suggest. The top end of the Australian yearling market will likely remain close to its current historic highs, but the cost of living pressures on the “mum and dad owners” may start to bite.

Only time will tell but Rupert Legh believes quality bloodstock will hold its value in 2023.

“Personally, I am not into the syndicating (end of the market), so I don’t get first-hand experience of it because I just ring a group of mates and we buy the horses,” Legh said. 

“The interest in buying horses sure hasn’t weakened and I am a great believer that when you have a recession or quiet times, quality will always get the right value, whether it’s a house, whether it’s a car, jewellery or a horse, they don’t go down in value.

“The same amount of interest will be there, so I would like to think that the sales will stay relatively strong because, one, prize-money is probably at an all-time high and going north as well, which is helping the price of horses, and there sure hasn’t been any sign of the market deteriorating, particularly when you look at the broodmare sales when you see what they’re selling for.”

He added: “It (yearling sale prices) might not go north, but I still think it’ll hold its value pretty well.”

Coming off record highs, in my view a small decline would be far from a disaster for the Australian bloodstock industry.


Sometimes people leave an impression on you. Earlier this month, I rang up Gerrard Gilmour, a co-trainer with Monica Croston at Pakenham, who just sent around two-year-old Capitalist filly Count Your Pennies to win a barrier trial at Cranbourne on September 5.

The way Gilmour, a former jumps jockey, spoke in such detail about his young filly suggests he knows what he is doing and that he and Croston just need a good horse (Count Your Pennies might be it) to showcase their training talents to the wider public.

The intention was to give Count Your Pennies a short break and target the $500,000 Inglis Banner at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day. Gilmour and Croston have handled a number of top two-year-olds in their time working for Gai Waterhouse. Those juveniles included horses of the quality of Assertive Lad and Dance Hero.

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