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New records set at Premier Sale

Selling on the second day of the 2007 New Zealand Premier Sale was even better, and certainly more consistent, than on the first day and by the conclusion of the sale new records were set for the aggregate, media and average. This was to be expected after the sale was reduced from three to two days, with 57 fewer lots catalogued, and 32 fewer lots sold this year. The improved statistics reflect a higher quality catalogue so comparisons with previous Premier Sales cannot be exactly made. (Thanks to Renee Geelen for this insight.)

Lot 280, Curraghmore Stud's Encosta de Lago-Miss Helga filly gave an exuberant display in the ring. She made $625,000.
PHOTO: Alex Martin
Nevertheless, New Zealand Bloodstock, breeders and vendors have every right to be very pleased with total sales of $56.8 million (up 14% on 2006), an average price of $156,567 (+ 24%), a median price of $110,000 (+38%) and a healthy clearance rate of 84%. Yesterday's business featured the sale-topping $2 million paid by Auckland real estate broker Don Ha for Lot 411, the Zabeel-Sunline colt.
The auditorium was packed with visitors who had obviously come to Karaka just to see the first yearling from the world famous racemare offered for sale. They were treated to some lively auctioneering by Steve Davis until his 20-lot session ended at 410 and, after jokingly checking to make sure he had to step down, he handed over to head auctioneer Joe Walls. There was a brief pause until 22-year-old Luke Simpson, 2005 NZTBA Scholarship winner, led the big, bay colt into the ring.

The bidding, handled with impeccable skill by auctioneer and spotters alike, began with a call of $500,000 from an unidentified woman to the right of the rostrum. It proceeded rapidly in $50,000 increments to $800,000 at which point Joe began taking $100,000 bids. At least five or six bidders appeared to participate, and they quickly pushed the price to $1.9 million. Two more bids of $50,000 and the hammer came down at $2 million - taking the total amount Sunline has earned her owners to beyond $16 million. The colt will remain in New Zealand and be trained by his mother's part-owner and co-trainer Stephen McKee. It was the third of three seven-figure sales on the day, the last of four at the sale

Ron Chitty (dark glasses) holds court with interested observers near Haunui Farm's marquee.
PHOTO: Susan Archer

and the 18 th in the history of the New Zealand Premier Sale. The Redoute's Choice-Mascara Magic colt, purchased for $650,000 as a weanling by partnership headed by the Chitty family's Haunui Farm, was sold for $1.3 million to Australian trainer Peter Moody. The Lonhro-Palme d'Or colt, offered by Ascot Farm, was sold for $1,050,000 to New Zealand trainer Graeme Stubbings. Buyers at this level can be encouraged by the success of past Karaka million-dollar-plus yearlings. They include Group One winners Darci Brahma, Don Eduardo, Shower of Roses and St Reims, and two-year-old stakeswinner Don Garcia. The experience of several happy vendors supported the story told by the sales statistics.

Denny and Mark Baker of Hallmark Stud were delighted with their best-ever price, $230,000 for their lovely Hussonet-O'Fortuna colt, from the family of champion sprinter Schillaci. He was a $A46,000 purchase from the Magic Millions Weanling Sale last winter. Hallmark sold two other six-figure yearlings: the Spectatorial-Miss Jessie Jay colt for $120,000 (purchased by Leo Molloy of Euro, Cowboy & Race Café fame), and the Giant's Causeway-Dance on the Moon filly, a $155,000 buy for Graeme Rogerson's Dormello Stud.

Similarly, the Dennis brothers from Southland achieved their best-ever sale-ring result, when their stunning O'Reilly-The Grin colt, a brother to G1 The Jewel and G3 The One, was sold to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for $510,000.

Paul Smithies of Monovale Farm said, "I'm very happy, we got more than we expected [$170,000] for the Montjeu-Grosvenor's Pride coltand about what we expected for the Fantastic Light-Miss Harvest colt [$52,500]."

South Island breeder Tony Cook was understandably nervous before his Pentire colt from Star Parade, owned in partnership with Rich Hill Stud, went through the ring but we're confident he was pleased with his $135,000 price. Pentire was one of several proven New Zealand-based sires whose progeny were in strong demand, with 18 lots averaging more than $115,000 (2004 fee: $15,000). Ten of those yearlings went to Australian buyers.

NZ Thoroughbred Racing's new Ownership Marketing Co-ordinator Diane Kenny (left) and Vodafone's Paula Glazer who has provided valuable mobile & internet assistance to Karaka visitors during the sales.
Vodafone is the NZTBA's newest commercial partner.
PHOTOS: Susan Archer

Westbury Stud's Faltaat also enjoyed a strong sale, with five lots averaging $111,000, well up on his 2006 NZ Premier average of $71,875. Three of his colts were bought by the Hong Kong Jockey Club including his top-priced lot, the Bahira colt, sold for $150,000. The last New Zealand-bred yearlings by Montjeu (no longer shuttling here) and Danasinga (sold to Australia in 2005) proved popular too. All of Danasinga's seven yearlings sold, at an average of more than $105,000, compared with $80,000 last year, and all but one are headed offshore. His 2004 fee was $12,000.

Aided by excellent spring race results in Australia and a smaller draft than in 2006, twenty of 22 yearlings by Montjeu averaged $158,350 on a 2004 service fee of $30,000.

Several New Zealand-based freshman sires were also warmly received. Windsor Park Stud's Thorn Park headed this group with 13 lots sold at an average of $133,846, around ten times his first season fee. Interestingly, eight of these sales were to New Zealand buyers.

All nine of the yearlings by Spartacus sold, averaging $116,833, an excellent return on his 2004 fee of $12,500. The Oaks Stud's Rick Williams said, "We're very happy with the market's response to Spartacus. People like the types he's thrown, and they should show a bit early then train on to make nice three-year-olds." Breeders who paid $10,000 to send mares to Captain Rio over the past three years will be very happy to see Honk Kong and Australian buyers purchase his two colts for $220,000 and $120,000.

Strictly speaking, Ishiguru isn't a freshman sire, as he stood in Australia in 2003 and sired 22 foals there, but his first New Zealand crop sells this year. Chequers Stud was pleased with their $110,000 sale of the Echo Beach colt to Paul Moroney who will have noted the debut win by Ishiguru's Australian-bred son Aquatic King at Randwick on 20 January.

Fifteen yearlings by Elusive City, who stood his first season at Trelawney Stud at $15,000, sold for an average of $92,766, with a top price of $170,000 paid by Matamata trainer Roger James for Cambridge stud's filly out of Starzeel.

Buyers' response to progeny by second crop sires is always keenly watched for signs that they are happy, or otherwise, with yearlings purchased from their first crops.
The signs this year were especially heartening for Rich Hill's Jungle Pocket whose seven yearlings sold this year averaged almost $118,000, about $14,000 more than last year.

Last year's freshman sire star No Excuse Needed had a smaller representation this year from his smaller second crop, but achieved a pleasing $102,860 average, with all except one of his seven lots finding new homes.

Zabeel (average $299,318) and Stravinsky ($202,969) led the New Zealand-based proven sire brigade, but Pins (average $155,909 on a $15,000 service fee) and O'Reilly ($144,444 average; $15,000 fee) also had excellent Premier Sales.

For the 26 th consecutive year Cambridge Stud led the vendor list by aggregate, a tremendous record not likely to be matched, but Bruce and Maureen Harvey's Ascot Farm took the honours by average price ($275,000).

On the leading buyers' list it was gratifying to see the name of one J.B. Cummings, one of the New Zealand National Sale's most significant supporters over the past five decades. He signed for five lots totalling $1.445 million. During two busy days and among many highlights, Steve Davis' bravura work in the rostrum was as entertaining as it was effective. This exchange with a bidder on Lot 396 is typical of his ability to banter, while extracting maximum value for every horse:

Let me talk to your client! [A bid is forthcoming.] That's better.
[Takes another bid from elsewhere; turns back to the first bidder.] Ah, aw, sorry!
[Inaudible, but guessable response from the first bidder.] My mum and dad were married!

The Jungle Pocket-Special Jade colt was then knocked down for $110,000.
- Susan Archer


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