Vendors are welcoming the return of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Weanling Sale to a physical format at Karaka next week, but without losing sight of lessons learned from last year’s COVID-19 disruptions.
A select catalogue of 120 weanlings will go under the hammer at Karaka next Friday, marking the return of a physical weanling sale after the 2020 version was replaced by an online sale.
Haunui Farm have been major players at New Zealand Bloodstock weanling sales for a number of years, selling more than 200 weanlings throughout the last decade. This year their 19-strong draft makes up almost a sixth of the catalogue.
“Heading back to Karaka next week represents a bit of a return to normality, after having to hold the sale online last year,” Haunui Farm managing director Mark Chitty said. “We’re certainly looking forward to that.
“But we have kept in place a number of the new angles that COVID-19 has forced us to look at and improve – we’re again providing extra footage, X-rays and reports, so that potential buyers have access to all the information they need.
“I think that some of these improvements that everyone has had to make could turn out to be a bit of a silver lining from all of the disruption that COVID caused to sales last year.
“It’s a reduced catalogue of 120 in the sale this year, and we’re heading in with some good numbers and quality in our draft of 19. It’s a nice, varied selection.
“We’ve always sold a reasonable number of weanlings at this sale every year, and we’ve produced horses who have gone on to perform on the racetrack, as well as horses that have turned into successful pinhooks for people. There’s usually something for everyone in our drafts, and I think that’s the case again this year.”
Two members of Haunui’s 2021 draft come from the final New Zealand crop of outstanding shuttle stallion Iffraaj, who left New Zealand shores for the final time in 2019 after more than a decade of service at Haunui.
There are also seven weanlings by the farm’s promising young shuttler Belardo, as well as the progeny of eight other stallions.
“It’s slightly bittersweet to be selling some of the last crop of Iffraaj weanlings, and we’re also offering some of the final crop of Tavistock as well,” Chitty said.
“Iffraaj has some very good young horses coming through at the moment, and with chances running out to access his progeny in this part of the world, buyers might be able to find some good opportunities in the catalogue.
“Overall, we’re offering a wide range of weanlings by good stallions and from quality female families. One real standout colt is by Almanzor out of Girl Of My Dreams (Lot 78), while there’s also a lovely Almanzor filly out of Colombelle (Lot 61) and a couple of Tavistocks from really good families (Lots 16 and 47).”
Curraghmore have been leading vendors at this sale on more than a dozen occasions, and they adapted successfully to last year’s online format – topping the sale with $107,500 for a colt by Proisir out of Pennacchio.
Gordon Cunningham’s Te Awamutu operation is strongly represented again in the 2021 catalogue with 15 weanlings, including the progeny of first season sires Ace High, US Navy Flag and Written By.
“The different ways that we had to market our horses last year seems to have become the norm now, with plenty of photographs and videos available for the buyers, and that’s got to be a positive thing, but we’re pleased to be heading back to Karaka for a physical sale again this year,” Cunningham said.
“I think it will be a good sale. While it’s not a big catalogue in terms of numbers, many of New Zealand’s very best farms are represented with quality drafts. The likes of Cambridge Stud, Hallmark, Haunui, Little Avondale, Rich Hill Stud, Wentwood Grange and others, they’re all proven producers of outstanding horses. I think buyers can go there next week with a lot of confidence in the quality of the offerings.
“I also have confidence in our own draft – I think it measures up quite nicely against many of the previous drafts that we’ve taken to this sale over the years.
“We’ve got a broad sire representation, with a number of first season sires along with proven horses like Per Incanto, Sacred Falls and Proisir, who are all very current with the outstanding performances of their progeny this season.
“We’ve added a couple of nice weanlings in the supplementary book as well, including a lovely filly by Deep Field from a Redoute’s Choice mare.”
The 2021 National Weanling Sale also features 10 weanlings from Cambridge Stud, who have offered a total of only five weanlings at this sale over the last six years.
“Over the past few years, for our foals that were not necessarily at K1 level, we’ve tended to place them on Gavelhouse,” Cambridge Stud chief executive Henry Plumptre said.
“This year we have a reasonable line of very nice foals who might be suitable for K2 or K3, but when New Zealand Bloodstock informed us that they were going to really promote this sale and push hard for quality entries, we thought we might as well put a draft together.
“We’ve also had some changes in our staff in recent times, and this is going to be the first sale for some of our newer team members, so it’ll be a good learning curve for them.
“There’s been some very encouraging interest. NZB brought 30 or 40 people to the farm the other day.
“Looking at what’s happening in Sydney at the moment with COVID, it may not be easy to buy foals in Australia over the coming weeks, so we’re hoping the domestic market holds up really well in this sale. There should be some good value for buyers. We’re really looking forward to the sale.”
Cambridge’s draft marks a changing of the guard at the iconic farm, with two members of the final crop of the late Tavistock alongside representation for young stallions Almanzor and Embellish.
“We’ve got a couple of very nice horses from the last crop of Tavistock, and there are some lovely foals by Almanzor and Embellish as well,” Plumptre said. “I’d be disappointed if those horses didn’t sell very well.”
Horses purchased at Karaka as weanlings have a proud record of racetrack success in recent years, headed by Group One victories in each of the last three New Zealand racing seasons by Yourdeel, Jennifer Eccles and Callsign Mav respectively.
New Zealand bred horses are enjoying a strong season across the Tasman, where they have won 22 percent of the Group One races. – NZ Racing Desk