Zabeel Filly Leads Way as New Zealand Sale Opens

Something strange highlighted the opening day of New Zealand's biggest yearling sale at Karaka in Auckland on Monday. Fillies dominated. Not just one either – the six highest-priced yearlings to sell featured five fine fillies of royal heritage.

It was New Zealand Bloodstock's 80th National yearlings sales series, and the action was hot – inside and out. New Zealand is not known for being a country of hot weather, but it blazed a trail on opening day. The mercury reached 91 degrees.

Former Hong Kong super trainer David Hayes, now back in Australia since last June and absolutely slaying his opposition having trained 21 individual 2-year-old winners this season alone, opened up and spent the most – reaching $850,000 (U.S.$531,000) for a filly by the legendary New Zealand sire Zabeel offered by Cambridge Stud.

She is out of Silk Slipper (by Woodman), a half-sister to outstanding sire Hurricane Sky, group I-producing sire Umatilla, and blue hen mare Shantha's Choice, dam of phenomenal sire Redoute's Choice.

The overall statistics reflected the good day's selling, with a strong median of NZ$85,000, a clearance rate 78%, and an average price of $117,704 (U.S.$80,000) after 130 lots sold.

Petrea Vela, New Zealand Bloodstock's marketing and public relations manager, said: "We're very pleased to see a strong day of selling at Karaka today with fierce competition at the top of the market. The median in particular is very encouraging. At $85,000, it is the same as this point in the sale last year and up 21% on the figure at the end of day 1 in 2004.

"We had anticipated to see the figures down on last year's, which was the strongest opening session ever recorded at Karaka. We are however very encouraged by how today has gone and look forward to the momentum continuing over the week ahead."

The buying contigent, fresh from its collective record setting ways at Australia's recently completed Magic Millions yearling sale, crossed the Tasman Sea and bought up big. Reps from Australia, South Africa, Japan, England, and Hong Kong looked over just above every horse on the complex. But it was the domestic players who came to the fore. Kiwi Graeme Rogerson was the leading buyer at the end of day one, having so far secured 10 yearlings for an aggregate of NZ$1,377,500, with Te Akau Stud principal, David Ellis having purchased 12 for a total of NZ$962,500.

It was a good day for this year's freshman sires, with the Rock of Gibraltar filly out of What Can I Say (by Khozaam), the second-highest-priced lot of the day at NZ$500,000. Sold by Rich Hill Stud, the filly was one of three yearlings purchased by Katsumi Yoshida of Japan.

The crops of first season sires Van Nistelrooy, Viking Ruler, and No Excuse Needed were also in demand, with Cambridge Stud's son of Danehill, Viking Ruler, fetching the top price of the trio with a filly sold for NZ$380,000 to Australian bloodstock agent, Kieran Moore. The filly is from Zabeel mare, Sursum Corda, a sister to St Reims and Champagne.

The premier sale continues at Karaka Tuesday, with a further 180 lots catalogued.