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Karaka’s sales ring is preparing for its biggest week of the year as major buyers return for its flagship National Yearling Sales.
Organiser New Zealand Bloodstock is confident of good returns to breeders' pockets, buoyed by record results from the November Ready to Run sale, which set a new sales record of almost $17.9 million.
Next week’s much larger auction series has 1492 thoroughbred yearlings catalogued for the seven days of selling, starting on Monday.
The premier sale, on Monday and Tuesday, attracts the most interest, last year grossing $54 million over the two days, with a sale average of $155,000.
Karaka Select and Karaka Festival sales later in the week brought total yearling sales to $76,449,300 in 2012, with combined sale average of $78,000 across the three sales categories.
A $111 million result from the 2008 sales is still the record.
But sales fell away sharply to $74 million the following year because of the recession, and although improving gradually since they are not back near that peak.
Michael Orton, from New Zealand Bloodstock’s marketing team, says trainer pockets have not been deep in recent years, but recent overseas auctions indicate activity is picking up.
“The last six months have been going well and our Ready to Run Sale was good. We take a bit of confidence from it, but it doesn’t necessarily dictate activity.”
A lot hinges on buyers from king market Australia, who spent $32,757,000 at Karaka’s yearling sales last year.
In 2012, more than $32.7 million of bloodstock was bought by buyers across the Tasman.
Other big wallets come from Hong Kong and Singapore, whose buyers spent $12.3 million and $3.9 million last year, respectively.
In 2012 New Zealand’s domestic buying bench spent $25.8 million.
The leading New Zealand buyer for the seventh year in a row at 2012 yearling sales was the country’s most significant racehorse syndicator, David Ellis of Te Akau Stud, who bought 30 horses for $6,487,500.
He also scooped the Fastnet Rock x Nureyev’s Girl colt for $1.75 million.
Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud has been the leading vendor at the national sales series for 31 years in a row. Last year the stud sold 54 horses for $11,215,500.
Cambridge’s formidable record at Karaka has seen it sell eight of the nine highest priced yearlings to go through the ring.
Almost $17.9 million was returned to breeders pockets at the Ready to Run thoroughbred sale in November – regarded as Australasia’s leading auction for two-year-old thoroughbreds.
Nearly a year older than those that line up at Karaka’s flag-bearer January yearling sales, the horses are one step closer to being racetrack ready.
This appeals to buyers in countries that do not have breeding industries and look to New Zealand and Australia to provide their racing stock.
Australian buyers were the most dominant, spending more than $5.3 million on more than 60 horses.
Karaka still holds the record for the highest-priced yearling to be sold at auction in the southern hemisphere, with $3.6 million being paid in 2000 for the now stallion, Don Eduardo.
NZ Bloodstock is run by co-managing directors Petrea Vela and Andrew Seabrook.
New to Karaka this year is the Verve Clicquot Lawn, where buyers can enjoy a glass of bubbles to celebrate their new purchase.
NZ Bloodstock also runs its own car fleet during the sales, which are driven by the New Zealand police, providing door-to-door service from hotels to the Karaka sales complex in south Auckland.
Karaka yearling achievements
How the horses perform on the market is the important thing.
NZ Bloodstock offers just more than 20% of Australasia’s auctioned yearling crop each year and in the last five seasons it can boast 75 – almost 40% – of all Group 1 winning yearling graduates in Australasia during that period.
One of the best horses in the world last season was bought at Karaka – So You Think, who cost $110,000 as a yearling in 2008 and has now won more than $11 million in prize money.
A 50% interest in So You Think was rumoured to have cost $30 million.
In Hong Kong, Karaka has been the world’s leading auction house for stakes wins for the last two seasons and graduates made a clean sweep of Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter, miler, middle-distance, stayer and Horse of the Year Awards in 2012.
Every horse in the Karaka Sales Series is eligible to enter the country’s richest race, the $1 million Karaka Million (at a fee of $1750 plus GST) the following year.
A race for two-year-olds, the race is run over 1200m at Ellerslie racecourse in Auckland and carries a restricted listed status.
This year's event will be held at 7.17pm on Sunday, January 29.
Of the $1 million stake, $10,000 is paid to the owner of the horse at the time of sale.