It’s hard to believe that just 12 months ago the site of the 62nd National Yearling sales was a mass of earthmoving equipment as the heavy machinery moved in to commence the groundwork for the multi-million-dollar complex.
At the time most observers found it difficult to envisage the Karaka site being ready in time to welcome Lot one. Chequers Stud’s Western Symphony (USA). Valencia filly, into the new sale ring.
However, at the time of writing, the complex- looking vastly superior to the white model which enabled us to picture a very grand but somewhat sterile-looking construction- loomed on the horizon as a very distant landmark.
Stained blackbean and topped with dark green colour steel, the Wrightson’s Bloodstock Sales Centre blends beautifully with the surrounding countryside.
“We have used colours and materials which reflect the rural atmosphere, after all, Karaka, though 25 minutes from the city is still very rural,” stated Wrightson Managing Director Michael Floyd.
“We wanted a complex which would aesthetically complement the area, not a concrete mausoleum suited to downtown Auckland.
It's not to say we haven't got some of the best facilities in the world he continues. “Our architects visited venues in five countries, and we have pirated the best features of all and combined them here.”
Having recently visited the Tattersalls and Goffs cell complexes and then compared these with the Wrightson’s Centre I can quite safely agree that our new sales pavilion is superior to both Newmarket and the kill paddocks.
The amphitheater styled sales auditorium has seating for 650, compared with Trentham’s 400, and there is the standing capacity for a further 350 in easily accessible areas on both the upper and ground level.
While the high ceiling and steep slope of the seating give the impression that the sale ring is rather small it is actually fractionally larger than the Trentham sales ring.
The interior walls at the auditorium are finished in Tawa which gives a further impression of light and adds a distinctly New Zealand flavour.
While the public and buyers have been well catered for, nothing, in my mind, can match the press facilities. Sited directly across from the auctioneer’s rostrum this glassed-in area will give pressmen an all-encompassing view of sale proceedings. If Wrightson’s do not receive world-class media coverage of the first Karaka sale (and subsequent ones) it will not be due to any slackness in providing unequalled facilities.
The sales pavilion is on two levels, with the upper level including hospitality rooms, a formal up-market restaurant (seating 80) and a cafeteria which provides seating for 200.
Wrightson’s own wallpaper and added touch which Michael Floyd felt would ensure everyone knew exactly whose sales complex this was, graces the walls both upstairs and down. A rich red upstairs and a champagne shade downstairs, both imprinted with the Wrightson’s logo of mare and foal.
Crowning the sales pavilion is a galvanised steel weathervane topped with the Wrightson’s logo.
Outside the pavilion and around the stable blocks that unsightly heaps of earth which, in early and construction days, seemed to be an integral part of the site, have disappeared, replaced with landscaped lawns, parade rings and a multitude of trees and shrubs.
Compliments of Fletcher Challenge head office in Auckland, the outdoor parade ring features two 20- year-old Dutch Elms. The two trees have successfully transplanted from the Fletcher site, though Michael Floyd laughingly adds that some people have commented upon how lucky Wrightson’s were to have two trees on the site just where they were to build the parade ring!
The six stable blocks each have about 90 boxes along with utility rooms, toilets, hosing bays and a feed room to every 13 boxes. As opposed the Trentham aisles, which ran lengthways, the Karaka aisles run crossways, providing easy accessibility.
The boxes are also larger than those at either Trentham or Claudelands and feature sliding doors. At the time of writing the finishing touches were being added to the complex and, although a little time had been lost, with the drivers’ strike and proposed labourers’ strike not assisting Floyd's blood pressure, it appeared that all would be up and running in time for the 1988 National Yearling Sale.
Like a child with a new toy, Floyd is totally enthusiastic about Wrightson’s new complex, and his enthusiasm carries over to the first catalogue of the yearlings to be sold through the new ring.
“The venue is tremendous, the catalogue fantastic, and indications are that we are going to attract thousands of people here and have an enormously successful sale,” he states.