Two weeks ago at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale in Australia, Magic Millions' part-owner Gerry Harvey, also an avid breeder, sold the record making top lot. In New Zealand on Tuesday, as the dust settled on day two of the Karaka New Zealand yearling sale, that trend continued when Peter Vela, owner of the Karaka Sales Complex, and an avid breeder, presented a colt that made the top mark. too.
The money horse was a glorious piece of horse flesh, prepared by Vela's Pencarrow Stud and was by international superstar stallion Stravinsky
from Vela's former group I winner Grand Echezeaux (by Zabeel).
The price paid was a cool NZ$2.2million (U.S.$1,507,000) -- the second highest amount ever paid for a yearling in New Zealand -- and it was knocked down to a Kiwi. David Ellis, a master syndicater who also appears to have a superb eye for horse flesh, won a spirited and lengthy bidding duel with a fellow New Zealander Samuel Kelt. Leading trainer Mark Walker will train the colt.
The highly prized Stravinsky colt is a half-brother to New Zealand's champion 2-year-old of last season, and current hotshot 3-year-old, Darci Brahma (by Danehill). Darci Brahma was also purchased by Ellis in 2004 in similar sale-topping fashion, and is trained at Te Akau Racing Stables, also by Walker. The pair of Ellis and Walker is proving to be a swashbuckling and highly potent combination. Darci Brahma, a multiple international group I winner, is already valued at around U.S.$8 million. Darci Brahma topped the sale in his year, stopping the bidding at NZ$1.1 million (U.S.$754,000).
A jubilant Ellis described the yearling as "one of the most impeccable colts" he had ever seen. He said: "It is a great thrill to have bought what Mark Walker and I regard as the nicest colt in this year's Karaka sale. He is by the sire of the leading fillies in both New Zealand and Australia, from the blueblood family of Peter and Philip Vela's through Grand Echezeaux, and is a superb individual. We are very proud to have secured him for the New Zealand breeding industry for the years to come and hope that he will reward his owners with similar success to Darci Brahma."
The yearling will be owned and raced by a syndicate of New Zealand businessmen, from both the North and South Islands, some of whom also own shares in Darci Brahm, but other owners are new to the Te Akau stables. Ellis has already sold nine of the 10 shares with just one share still to be sold.
The colt's lot number was always a good omen: at 341 it was the same as the highest-priced yearling, Don Eduardo (Zabeel -- Diamond Lover), when he was sold at Karaka for a record NZ$3.6 million (U.S.$2,654,000) in 2000.
New Zealand Bloodstock's marketing and public relations manager, Petrea Vela, daughter of the vendor, summed up the day's proceedings: "The sale started steadily this morning but really stepped up a gear throughout the afternoon. The last three hours of selling were as strong as we have ever seen it at Karaka, with today's results exceeding all our expectations.
"Not only was it very exciting to see the Stravinsky colt sell for $2.2 million, but it is a huge boost to our industry to see two New Zealand buyers fighting it out at the end, with Japanese and Australian buyers also in the battle. Good quality horses are certainly in high demand with buyers prepared to pay top dollar for lots that meet their scrutiny. I hope that we can maintain this strength throughout the final day of the premier sale tomorrow."
The fierce ringside competition on day two resulted in a record average for the day of NZ$149,772 and a sale average so far of NZ$131,925. The clearance rate has climbed from 76% on day one to 79% on day two, with the sale median holding solid at $85,000. Gross takings are currently NZ$35,122,000 for 267 lots sold after 360 lots catalogued. After 360 lots catalogued last year, turnover was NZ$35,513,000 with 264 sold.
David Ellis is currently the leading buyer with 21 yearlings purchased for an aggregate of NZ$4,935,000. He also bought the fourth top lot of the sale so far, a filly by Dehere out of Fleur de Chine (by Centaine) for NZ$700,000. Graeme Rogerson continued to be active ringside, securing another 15 yearlings to bring his total so far to 25 lots for NZ$2,692,500.
Australian sire sensation Redoute's Choice also made his presence felt, with a filly out of Great Bouquet (by Zabeel) commanding NZ$725,000 from Australian bloodstock agent, Kieran Moore. The filly, sold by Bruce and Maureen Harvey's Ascot Farm, puts her sire at the top of the sire tables with an average of NZ$481,667 for three sold so far.
Redoute's Choice will serve a select book of mares to Northern Hemisphere time starting in February, and the idea is to showcase his talents abroad without shuttling him.
The third and final session of the New Zealand Bloodstock premier auction is Wednesday with a further 156 lots catalogued for sale.