Ready to Run Sale Proves NZ Horses Remain in Demand

7 January 2021

NZ Herald / Michael Guerin

The renowned Karaka Sales Centre auditorium

A stunning Ready to Run Sale two months ago has proven two things to New Zealand Bloodstock bosses as they count down to the most important week in the thoroughbred industry.

One is they can sell horses to people from all over the world without them having to be at the Karaka Sales Centre, and the other is there is still a buoyant market for horses who are retained or pinhooked to be resold.

Both will be crucial to the success of this year's sales.

The 95th yearling sales kick off with the elite Book 1 yearlings on January 24 with the certainty now that overseas buyers will not be able to attend.

"We had hoped a while ago with the way the COVID situation was improving in some countries, particularly Australia, that we might get some of those buyers here but we now know that won't be happening," says NZB's Sales Manager Danny Rolston.

"And at least we have that clarity now and we can revert to the same process as that Ready To Run Sale in November which quite frankly blew everybody away with its success."

The Ready To Run Sale also saw no overseas buyers on the grounds because of travel restrictions but the results were outstanding, aided in no small part by NZB's new real-time buying platform, which allows buyers who can't be at the sale to watch and bid instantaneously.

Coupled with improved online promotion by vendors, co-operation by agents and some hefty top-end of the market buying from the likes of Te Akau, November's sale was a huge result, and under the circumstances a great relief.

Rolston says the much larger yearling sales, where 918 horses are set to be offered rather than the 300 of the Ready To Run Sale, will test that buyer depth far more, but there are some positives.

"We know now we can sell horses well to overseas buyers without them being present," he offers.

"And that comes down to a lot of factors and hard work from a lot of people.

"But a buoyant Ready To Run market like we saw means that vendors who do want to take a horse home from this sale or the plenty of local horse people who want to pinhook can do so with confidence in that market.

"If the November sale had struggled then it could have dented confidence heading into this sale but some of those pinhookers will now have the money and confidence to go again.

"I think that is a real opportunity because the world could be a very different place by the time that Sale comes around again in November."

Rolston is realistic about the difficulties of selling more than 900 horses without the emotional or competitive involvement that can come from key buyers being on the sale grounds.

"But that spells opportunity. There are going to be buyers, especially local buyers, who might get the odd bargain they wouldn't have been able to afford at this sale the last couple of years."

Although they are competitors, Rolston says NZB hopes for a solid sale at the Gold Coast next week, which kicks off the annual transtasman round of yearling sales, to establish prices for the market.

"But the reality is regardless of what happens in Australia, people see those big races in Australia and know they can come here and buy a Probabeel, Kolding or Melody Belle and win Group Ones at Randwick or Flemington.

"The way we are selling them this year might change but the results on the track at what really matters."

Karaka 2021: National Yearling Sale Series
What: Sale of elite New Zealand thoroughbred yearlings.
Where: Karaka Sales Centre and online at or
When: Book 1 January 24-26, Book 2 January 27-28, followed by National Online Yearling Sale on Gavelhouse Plus on February 3.