While offspring of Fastnet Rock dominated the top of the market, a relatively strong middle market pushed median price to slight gains on the first day of the New Zealand Bloodstock premier yearling sale Jan. 27 at Karaka.
Median price was up 2.1% from last year's opening day, rising to $120,000 ($98,853 in U.S. funds), but total sales and average prices were off 6.8% and 6.2%, respectively.
Sons and daughters of leading sire Fastnet Rock brought five of the day's 10 highest prices, including the top three, led by Cambridge Stud's colt out of New Zealand champion and dual classic winner Katie Lee. The youngster sold for $800,000 ($659,499 in United States funds) to Graeme and Debbie Rogerson's Rogerson Bloodstock.
The bay colt was among 157 horses sold on day one for an aggregate $23,761,500 ($19,572,697), an average of 151,347 ($124,666).
"In a similar vein to the first day's trade last year, the market heated up steadily as the day progressed," said Peter Vela, co-managing director of New Zealand Bloodstock.
"There is an extremely broad international buying bench on site and active, and there were also some very encouraging signs from our local market with significantly increased activity from the same day last year.
"Overall, there's pleasing strength to the middle market as reflected in the increased median."
The session topper is the first foal out of Katie Lee, a Pins mare who holds the distinction of being the only horse to win both the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (NZ-I) and New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (NZ-I), a feat achieved in 2009.
"On type this colt is very strong," Graeme Rogerson said of the colt. "We debated when driving up today, but in the end Debbie said 'I want that horse.' I valued him higher than what we got him for and there are a lot of people that want to go in on him already."
The Rogerson partnership trained Katie Lee throughout her career, including her stellar 3-year-old campaign in 2009-10 that saw her honored as the nation's champion 3-year-old filly. A half sister Banchee, New Zealand's champion 2-year-old filly the same season, Katie Lee sold to Hogan for $340,000 ($264,216) at the 2008 premier yearling sale from Hallmark Stud's consignment.
Coolmore's Tom Magnier secured the day's second-highest price horse, a Fastnet Rock filly for $700,000 ($575,594). Offered by Pencarrow Stud, she is out of VRC Oaks (Aus-I) runner-up Miss Scarlatti, a listed winner by Stravinsky.
"The Fastnet Rock fillies have been very popular and she's a lovely type so all we need now is a little bit of luck," Magnier said. "We'll take her home and then decide what we'll do with her and who will train her."
The day's third-highest price of $680,000 ($559,091) was for a Fastnet Rock colt out of the Gold Case mare Randaroo, a multiple graded stakes winner in the United States for Joseph Allen and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The Australian-bred colt is a half brother to 2010 La Canada Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Gripsholm Castle.
Te Akau Stud's David Ellis secured the colt from the Curraghmore Stud consignment before ending the day's as the sale's top buyer, with 25 yearlings bought for $4,095,000 ($3,367,899). He also bought Curraghmore Stud's Fastnet Rock filly out of the Galileo mare Memories of You for $400,000 ($328,951).
Curraghmore Stud sold another Fastnet Rock colt for the same price to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The colt is out of the Galileo mare Ocean Pearl.
Fastnet Rock, Australia's champion sire of 2011-12, led the sale's sire's list, with 12 horses sold for $4,170,000 ($3,429,449), an average of $347,500 ($285,771). The son of Danehill will stand the 2014 Northern Hemisphere season at Coolmore's base in Ireland, for a private fee.
The New Zealand Bloodstock premier yearling sale continues with the second and final session, starting at 11 a.m. local time. The premier sale is part of the NZB's National yearling sales series, which continues with a three-day select sale Jan. 29-30 and a Festival sale Feb. 2.