The top price was brought by an absolute surprise Monday during the record-setting opening session of the premier portion of New Zealand Bloodstock's national yearling sales at Karaka. Australian miner Les Tinker parted with NZ$925,000, approximately $800,000 in U.S. funds, to acquire a filly by the brand new sire One Cool Cat out of the group III-winning Sir Tristram mare Diamond Cashel.
To be fair, the filly offered by Sir Patrick Hogan's Cambridge Stud was a lovely type and very well related. Her half-sister by Stravinsky is a brilliant Australian-based group III-winning 3-year-old named Royal Asscher. But she was up against a slew of Zabeels and Encosta de Lagos and Rock of Gibraltars and Flying Spurs, all offspring of proven group I-producing stallions.
But Tinker, who reportedly bought a patch of land in Queensland a few years ago and found gold, sold it recently for US$300 million. A month ago, he purchased Alanbridge Stud in New South Wales for around Aust$8million, and a stallion hope in Casino Prince (by Flying Spur) who is group I-placed. He bought 16 yearlings during the sale's first session, securing 16 yearlings for NZ$5million in the name of Patinack Farm.
Gai Waterhouse was over from Australia. and she spent NZ$820,000 to buy a colt by Zabeel -- Dane Dancer (by Danehill), whose pedigree was about the best on offer on day one. Cambridge Stud consigned the colt.
Maureen and Bruce Harvey, well-respected horse people who have carved out a fantastic living over the past few years under their Ascot Farm banner by pinhooking weanlings, prepping them ,and selling eight months later as yearlings, hit yet another home run with their Flying Spur -- Chicago Wonder colt.
"We took a risk buying him in Australia for $245,000," said Maureen Harvey, "so when bidding stalled at $200,000 we were a little concerned."
But she shouldn't have been worried. The Hong Kong Jockey Club wanted the colt badly as he was a half-brother to former Hong Kong Champion Jeune King Prawn, but ran out of money at NZ$600,000. Eventually, Angus Gold, bidding on behalf of the Sheikh's Shadwell Estate Stud, was the winner, paying NZ$850,000.
David Ellis, who has been a massive buyer in recent years at this sale for his Te Akau racing empire, went to NZ$900,000 for a colt by three-time Melbourne Cup (Aust-I)-producing stallion Zabeel from the Encosta de Lago mare La Quinta Gold, offered by Cambridge Stud. The colt's dam is a winning full-sister to two outstanding sprinters in Australia - Gold Lottey and Besame Mucho.
Eighty-one percent of the horses on offer were sold with a record opening day average for Karaka of NZ$205,616. The gross for day one was NZ$39 million while the median was NZ$155,000.
Day two of the premier sale is scheduled for Tuesday. It will be followed by three select sessions.