Competitive Bidding Sparks Day 2 of New Zealand Sale

By Ric Chapman
During Tuesday's session of the New Zealand Premier Sale at Karaka, people were watching with polite interest at the yearling parade through the sale ring.

That was until someone let off the fireworks, which started when the big chestnut filly by boom stallion Giant's Causeway  entered the ring.

Listed as lot 292, this flashy looking bay from the Vain mare Bespoken -- a proven source of superior speed as a broodmare -- somehow managed to get all the big buyers interested.

The Coolmore boys wanted her; Tim Stakemire acting on behalf of Sheikh Khalifa did too. Graeme Rogerson was on her as was champion Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse. And standing quietly away from all of them was Victorian based bloodstock agent Rob Roulston. He eventually won the battle landing the half-sister to one of the fastest juveniles seen in Australia over the past 25 years -- Bel Esprit (Royal Academy) -- for NZ$500,000. Bel Esprit won five races as a youngster and two group one races. He was the type of horse racing fans don't forget. His style of racing and ability to completely destroy opposition will ensure he makes it as a stallion too.

And this filly looked really like she could skate as well. Her sale was the kick start day two needed and it was the start of something big.

The very next lot in the ring was by Danehill from the American-bred mare Beyond The Sunset, who is by Gone West and boasts such luminary family members as Seattle Slew, Lomond and Seattle Dancer.

From an opening bid of $200,000 this big brown colt steadily grew. All those cashed up with money wanted him. He was good without being great, but was a Danehill and walked nicely. Finally, at NZ$1,050,000, the ruddy-faced, always smiling David Ellis bought him.

"I want to win a Golden Slipper and this is the type of horse to do that," regaled Ellis still bouyed after watching his 2-year-old Danehill-Grand Echezeaux colt win his debut Monday. His name is Darci Brahma and looks very promising. This time last year Ellis paid NZ$1.1million to buy him from this very sale and it was the sale topper.

He thought the yearling this year was just as good. "I saw him at Pencarrow Stud as a weanling then came back to look him a few months later and again four times during this sale I pulled him out to check him over," Ellis said. "I think if you want to win the very big races you need to spend this sort of money on these sort of horses and plan it through. I love him."

Mark Walker, who trains Darci Brahma for Ellis, a stud farm owner who syndicates racehorses, will also train this new colt.

At that point, the sale was electric and when, just 14 minutes later the world's biggest buyer Demi O'Byrne decided to flex his muscles, the atmosphere bubbled over.

O'Byrne was absolutely blown away by a Fusaichi Pegasus  -- Cannsea (Canny Lad) chestnut filly, who looked from every angle to be an equine masterpiece. The buzz around Karaka was that O'Byrne wanted her at any price and when he entered the fray early, many who had good bankrolls knew it was pointless taking him on. In the end she was knocked down for less than O'Byrne was prepared to go, costing $540,000.

She will be flown to Australia and kept within the ownership of some Australian based Coolmore lads and big spending owner John Camileri. O'Byrne likes her so much he may stay in as part-owner too.

Only eight more minutes passed before yet another five-star individual was paraded and the now-packed auditorium was humming. This was a cracking chestnut colt by Giant's Causeway  from the much celebrated local hero Champagne (Zabeel), who had won two group I races and was runner-up in the Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) as a racehorse. As a producer she had alreday thrown a stakes horse from her debut offering.

It seemed everyone wanted her.

But wily Graeme Rogerson threw a big scare into many of them by opening the bidding at $700,000. The ploy worked although some stayed for the battle. Bidding rose to $875,000, eventually going to Rogerson who outlasted champion trainer Bart Cummings.

It was a breathtaking 25 minutes of pure theater and tremendous excitement.

Danehill started day two sitting on a $425,000 average which rose to just over $500,000 by day's end. The whole day was sparked to end at $134,000 average with 83% sold.