A steady influx of ex-pat Kiwi trainers and Bloodstock Agents that have arrived at the Karaka sales complex in the past 24 hours has put a bigger smile on the face of New Zealand Bloodstock Director of Sales, Danny Rolston.
The easing of border restrictions that allow offshore-based Kiwi’s to return home without having to undergo a COVID isolation period has provided a timely boost to the prospects of another bumper edition of the National Yearling Sale that kicks off at Karaka at 11am on Monday.
With over 1000 thoroughbred youngsters set to be sold over the six days of the sale, the ability for members of the international buying bench and/or their representatives to get up close and personal with the stock on offer is a critical component of the sale process.
While the digital marketing endeavours of the assembled vendors and New Zealand Bloodstock have risen to another level this year, Rolston is aware of the additional confidence and security that is provided to buyers by being able to physically inspect and sight each horse.
“The activity and atmosphere out here at the sales complex has really ramped up in the last twenty-four hours with the arrival of a number of Kiwi-born agents and trainers from abroad,” Rolston said.
“We have had excellent domestic activity throughout the week, but the number of on-site parades really start to ramp up now we are so close to the sale starting.
“We are expecting a few more arrivals for the buying bench tonight (Sunday) and we may even see a few early in the week as well, which will add further benefits for vendors.
“We are expecting a strong sale as the feedback we have received has been very good.
“There has been excellent turnout at the on-farm parades in the weeks leading up to the sale and the comments we have received indicate the strength of the catalogue is very good.
“Feedback from the independent agents indicates they are keen on what the catalogue has to offer and the great value there will be across the vendor offerings.”
One of those agents is Michael Wallace, who made a last-minute decision to attend from his American base once border restrictions were lifted.
“I love getting back here and I’m really happy with what I’ve seen so far,” Wallace said.
“Seeing them (the horses) a little later in the year is great as the weather is not so hot and they are parading well.
“There are a few exciting stallions in New Zealand now which really interest me, so it’s good to be back.
“We had been awaiting the announcement on the border changes and, once we had that, I got in touch with Danny Rolston.
“New Zealand Bloodstock has been great in helping facilitate the last-minute trip and hopefully we are going to rustle up some business and make it all worthwhile.
“I will be working for mainly Australian-based clients and, as soon as I knew I could get here, I got on the phone.
“The traction has been very good, so hopefully we can translate that to the auction ring.
“While I could have used the online platforms during the sale, as the videos are great, there is nothing like being here in person and talking to the people who you have built relationships with, as they know what you are looking for.
“You get a greater feel for what is around and the mood of the market, so I would always like to do this in person where I can.”
Rolston is also pleased to see the interest in the Book 2 sale entrants that have also started to arrive at the complex.
“The Book 2 horses are arriving and being inspected now,” he said.
“For those that may not have a Book 1 budget, these horses provide the opportunity to still buy quality New Zealand-bred stock.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the attraction of the New Zealand-bred product where the proof is in the performances we have seen internationally over the past two years.
“You only have to look back twenty-four hours to see a prime example with the likes of Belluci Babe, Annavisto, Yonce, Inspirational Girl and Bermadez all winning at either Randwick or Flemington on Saturday.
“That success in our major Australian market has been outstanding and I’d like to think those astute buyers know this is the sale each year where you need to be to achieve those results.”
Experienced local agent Bruce Perry is another who is keen on what he has seen so far of the yearlings he has inspected but is also expecting plenty of competition across the catalogue.
“As far as the buying bench this year it is great to see some Aussie faces and to also see Michael Wallace here,” he said.
“They want our middle-distance horses, so that is why they are coming here.
“We have a great history of breeding them and with yesterday’s results over there you are still seeing the (NZ) suffix represented at the highest level.
“We had a long, short list last year and pretty much exactly the same again this year, where we have plenty of depth to it with lots of nice horses.
“We still need some of our new stallions to come through the ranks, which I’m sure some of them are going to.
“There are plenty of nice families with some new blood in the broodmare bands but there are also some great New Zealand families represented here that just keep doing the job.”
Perry was also happy to reflect on his role in purchasing yesterday’s Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Asterix for $450,000 out of the Curraghmore draft during the 2020 Ready To Run Sale at Karaka.
“Sam Kelt (part-owner) rang up a month before the sale and said we want to buy a horse to win a Derby and a Melbourne Cup,” Perry said.
“I bought two for him, Asterix and Cacofonix, who has now won two of his three starts, so it has worked out well so far.
“That sale is the first time I worked with my daughter Becca, so that was another of the special things about yesterday’s result.
“She was part of that selection and there is no way I can buy anything without her sign-off now.”
The National Yearling Sale at Karaka runs from March 7-12, with selling commencing at 11am each day. – NZ Racing Desk