Positive pre-sale mood at Karaka

Vendors at Karaka for next week's 78th National Yearling Sales series reported a very busy day on Thursday, with several holding 15 or 16 parades for New Zealand and some Australian buyers. Friday was quieter but steady, with agents and trainers still working through drafts late in the afternoon.

Vendors expressed moderate optimism about their prospects for the Premier Sale which begins tomorrow afternoon at 1.00 pm and concludes on Wednesday afternoon. The very strong markets at the Gold Coast Magic Millions and Sydney Classic sales have reportedly left a good number of buyers with unfilled orders so there is some anticipation that Australian buyers will be particularly active at Karaka 2004.

They will need to be if the recent downward trend in key sale indicators is to be reversed. The aggregate at the NZ Premier Sale has fallen from its all-time high of $55.1 million in 2000 to last year's figure of $34.2 million - only a couple of million dollars more than the 1998 total, and the figure for 1986. The average price has also declined from $128,469 in 2000 to $95,291 in 2003. These statistics place the NZ Premier Sale in third place among Australasian Premier yearling sales, some way behind the Australian Easter Sale and the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, but well ahead of the Melbourne Premier Sale.

The flipside of this is that Karaka now offers tremendous value to buyers seeking quality horses without paying "over the odds." It's to be hoped that what they perceive as good value will also add up to a profit for breeders.

If owners, trainers and agents need encouragement to extend their bidding it can be found in the Premier Sale catalogue photographs of recent Group One-winning graduates: King's Chapel, Maroofity, Penny Gem, Piachay, St Reims, Shower Of Roses, Unearthly and Zirna. The list of Group One winners purchased out of the Select and Festival Sales is equally impressive and includes: US and New Zealand G1 winner Happyanunoit, Oaks winners Coco Cobanna, Bramble Rose, Wharite Princess, Tapildo and She's Country, and three New Zealand Derby winners: Hail, Hades-Helene Vitality and So Casual.

One New Zealand-bred star who wasn't offered for sale at Karaka has nevertheless been honoured with a barn named for her. Barn F which houses the Ascot Farm, Ardsley Stud, Darley Park, Esker Lodge, Fayette Park, Lyndhurst Farm, Little Avondale, Raffles Farm and Te Parae drafts, now bears the name of champion racemare Sunline. Somewhat ironically, her three-quarter sister by Desert Sun from Edradour is Lot 1059 in this year's Select Sale.

- Susan Archer


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