No surprise to see huge Hong Kong contingent at Ready to Run Sale at Karaka

22 November 2023

- By Michael Guerin, NZ Herald

Hong Kong buyers are expected to add real spark to the top end of the market at the Ready To Run Sale which begins at Karaka on Wednesday.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s two-day sale of two-year-olds is one of the most successful in the world and will see 310 horses go under the hammer just a month after they galloped at speed at Te Rapa, the videos of those breeze ups a crucial factor in which horses will be most sought after this week.

There is no better advertisement for any sale than its graduates going on to be racetrack stars so it is no surprise to see a huge contingment of Hong Kong-based trainers, agents and owners at Karaka this year as two of the superstars of Hong Kong racing came from the Ready to Run Sale.

Hong Kong’s hero galloper Golden Sixty was a $300,000 Karaka Ready to Run purchase while the region’s best sprinter Lucky Sweynesse, who was back in winning form on Sunday, is another graudate.

After the difficulties in getting Hong Kong-based potential buyers to the sales in the last two years they were back at Karaka for inspections Tuesday, with the complex having a positive feel ahead of the sale.

“We have wonderful representation from Hong Kong here and expect them to be very strong,” said NZB Managing Director Andrew Seabrook.

“What New Zealand horses do in Hong Kong is remarkable and to have two of the best horses in the world racing there and having come out of this Sale is something we are very proud of.”

Seabrook says there will also be buyers from Malaysia, the Korean Racing Association and mainland China as well as other parts of Asia which NZB are hoping that will help fill the potential gap left in the market by the looming closure of Singapore racing.

There will be no shortage of Australian trainers at Karaka either as the Sale has produced consistent Group One winners there headlined this year by Mr Brightside.

The feeling is some Australian trainers bypassed recent similar sales in Australia to wait for this week as the NZB Ready to Run Sale has a superior record.

An interesting factor this week will be how strong the domestic buyers are as the local industry goes through a sustained resurgance.

Not only has the recent TAB-Entain deal seen more money injected into the industry, much of it going to stakes, but Ellerslie is close to re-opening with what will eventually be record stakes for a New Zealand racing club.

While some local buyers may struggle to match it with the overseas visitors on lots at the top of the market, the domestic stake increases mean horses can win a lot more money now without leaving New Zealand than at any time in the industry’s history.

Add in the glamour of Ellerslie’s return and the growing strength of syndication driven by local trainers and they are expected to be the most active they have been in many years.

One of the strengths of this week’s Sale is the depth of stallions available with 92 different stallions as the local breeding industry has been bouyed by new contenders emerging to challenge the traditional 'King of Karaka' in Savabeel.

There are also numerous lots by Australia’s best stallions like I Am Invincible, Zoustar, Snitzel, Deep Field, Pierro, Russian Revolation and Justify, the latter having a break-out year worldwide.

That stallion diversity is on show early in the catalogue and while highlights are hard to predict at a Ready to Run Sale one horse sure to be busy with inspections today is Lot 116, the Contributer half-brother to Lucky Sweynesse.