By Ric Chapman
The Vela brothers, Peter and Philip, own New Zealand Bloodstock, which runs the premier session of the national yearling sales at Karaka in New Zealand. And they run it superbly as is indicated by the runaway success of the Karaka Sale this year: Gross receipts up 31%, average up 17% to NZ$111,000 (US$74,366), and crowd satisfaction at an all time high.
The brothers also own a stud farm named Pencarrow Stud, a boutique setup to make any horse lover salivate--grreat broodmares, great pastures and no stallions. One of their offerings stole the show as Karaka ended Wednesday. A Danehill--Grand Echezeaux colt fetched a healthy NZ$1.1mill (US$744,279) for the boys, topping the entire sale. The money came from the coffers of prolific buyer David Ellis of Te Akau Racing, New Zealand, and it is probably money very well spent.
To look at, the colt is superb. He is from a brilliant grade I-winning Zabeel mare and the legends of breeding--Danehill and Zabeel--seem to work magically. This colt has stallion prospect written all over him. It's the same family that gave us the great broodmare Romanee Conti, who in turn left a superstar in Ethereal who won AUS$4.7 million stakes (US$3,176,890) including the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double.
There were many keen judges on this colt, but the underbidder was Adrian Nicoll of BBA (Ireland), who had previously secured the NZ$1-million colt by Danehill--Push a Venture at the opening session. Selling the $1.1-million colt helped Pencarrow Stud to easily capture the Leading vendor by average, with 14 offered and 14 sold for an average of NZ$249,286 (US$168,445).
Sir Patrick Hogan's Cambridge Stud achieved the highest vendor aggregate for what is believed to be the 23rd year in succession, with 47 sold for a total of NZ$7,452,500 (US$5,036,403).
As the dust settled on the sale, a surprise emerged, and it was a pleasant one for Coolmore. Quite apart from Danehill again topping the sires‚ average with a NZ$417,273 (US$282,003) for 11 sold, his heir apparent was finally accepted in this part of the world. Fusaichi Pegasus had been one of the very few big gun freshman stallions to have only a fair start-off in Australia earlier this month at the Magic Millions sale where he averaged AUS$179,000 (US$139,125) from 12 lots sold off a service fee of AUS$132,000. On Wednesday at Karaka, one of his fillies fetched NZ$500,000 (US$338,205). He averaged NZ$255,556 (US$172,962).
The filly was from the Grosvenor (he a great, great Southern Hemisphere stallion now passed on) mare Emerald who, as a racehorse, was one of New Zealand's best, winning the grade I New Zealand One Thousand Guineas. This is her second foal, the older one not raced as yet. She was purchased by a terrific judge in Irishman Demi O‚Byrne, and she will most likely race in Australia.
Still, the NZ$200,000 (US$135,144) paid by Australia's Tony Bott for the Montjeu--Fleur de Chine colt may prove to be the best buy at the sale. He was an athlete of the highest order from a family renowned for producing stout competitors. He'll come to Australia to race and is going to boost the value of his impressive family mightily. He has three grade I Oaks winners on his page and another which ran third. Plus, this guy has the Montjeu factor. No brainer to succeed.
This year the premier sale well and truly demonstrated that New Zealand is able to attract the leading buyers from all over the world. Buyers from England, Ireland, Australia, and Hong Kong had a significant presence while Singapore, USA, and the Philippines shoppers were also active. The overall leading buyer by aggregate for the second consecutive year was Graeme Rogerson, who again made a huge impact on the sale with 27 purchases for NZ$3,202,500. New Zealand Bloodstock, as agent for Hong Kong and other clients, was next at 20 lots for NZ$2,912,500. David Ellis also made a major impact on the sale with his 28 yearlings purchased for NZ$2,575,000. Adrian Nicoll of BBA Ireland took 3 lots for NZ$1,560,000 while DGR Thoroughbred Services of Australia was 5th leading buyer with 7 lots for NZ$1,530,000.