As the curtain came down on a successful New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale, a colt by Savabeel out of the O’Reilly mare Miss Opulence, a half-sister to multiple Group One winners Sir Slick and Puccini, stole the limelight late in the piece, topping the sale at $700,000.
Presented by Sam and Hana Beatson’s Riversley Park, who finished as leading vendor for the fourth year in succession, the athletic bay attracted the interest of multiple parties before eventually going the way of Te Akau’s Jamie Richards.
“I thought he was the colt of the sale,” Richards said.
“He was a Savabeel that is medium-sized, very athletic, moved really well and I couldn’t fault his attitude every time that we looked at him up here (Karaka).
“He has been bought to hopefully develop into a stallion. He has got the pedigree behind him that we think he is able to do so.”
Richards was left in the uncustomary role of bidder, with Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM having to dash away before the prized lot went under the hammer.
“He had to get down to Te Rapa for Karyn’s (Fenton Ellis – MNZM) last AGM as Chairman of the Waikato Racing Club, so I had him on the phone,” Richards said.
“We were getting towards the end of it, so it was great to get him for $700,000 and hopefully we can develop him into a stallion that the New Zealand industry can be proud of.”
Amongst the under-bidders was Cambridge trainer Roger James, who even put in a late bid a split second after the gavel was knocked down in Richards’ favour.
“I honestly don’t know if we would have gone again,” Richards said.
“Dave was pretty clear on the phone that that was the last bid.”
The colt is the lynchpin of a busy few days at Karaka for the Te Akau team, with nine horses set to join the leading stable.
“We’ve tried to get horses at all different budgets,” Richards said.
“Karyn does such a wonderful job of syndicating horses along with David.
“All of the horses from the first day of the sale are syndicated already and I am sure it won’t take long to get these ones done. The effort that goes into it is just unbelievable.”
The colt was bred by the Smithies family’s Monovale Farm in Cambridge, who have a close association with Riversley Park.
“We knew from the interest leading into the sale that we had a pretty good horse on our hands, how good we weren’t sure,” an overwhelmed Joe Smithies said.
“We were keen to get him on the market relatively early and it turns out that was a good move.
“It was great to see two New Zealand guys going at him, and there was plenty of interest from bidders online.
“It’s a huge result for the mare, Savabeel, Riversley and Monovale and everyone at NZB as well.
“We are just over the moon. You are always optimistic but half the time when you are optimistic you probably get caught out a little bit. We went into it hoping it would go well but $700,000 is beyond optimistic.
“It is a family we have had a long time now and one that has been very good to us.
“Miss Opulence is a six-year-old mare and is carrying her fourth Savabeel. She has a yearling filly, a filly foal and is back in foal to Savabeel. She is a very exciting broodmare for us going forward.”
Smithies, whose brother Max led the colt through the ring, praised the efforts of the Riversley Park team.
“They do a fantastic job, there was a reason we chose them to prepare this horse and we have been impressed with how they operate for a number of years.
“They have done all our breaking in for a decade or more and we have a very good relationship with them.” – NZ Racing Desk