Yearling Sales Are All About Numbers

25 January 2024

Karaka 2024 selling from Sunday 28 January.
NZB SALES WEEK - By Michael Guerin

What: New Zealand’s Karaka 2024 National Yearling Sale
Operated by: New Zealand Bloodstock
Where: Karaka Sales Centre
When: Book 1, Sunday to Tuesday, first Lot 10am;
Book 2, Wednesday to Friday, first Lot 11am
Who: 1125 yearlings catalogued
Catalogue and more info:
Watch: Trackside premier (Sky Ch64), Freeview Ch200, Online at NZB website and Facebook page.


While the young horses are nurtured, prettied and preened before and on their big day, when they enter the sales ring it is with a Lot number stuck to their hindquarters and they leave with a value established by the market.

But when the first lot of the annual Karaka thoroughbred yearling sales goes under the hammer at 10am on Sunday, numbers of another sort will underpin the bidding.

Numbers like $7.5million. That is the amount a horse purchased next week can race for in just three NZB-backed races in the first 19 months of its career.

That is without all the Group Ones and other domestic opportunities they can chase as well as the riches in Australia and Hong Kong available off-shore.

Horses sold at this Sale can now race for $1million in the Karaka Million a two-year-old, $1.5million as a three-year-old and be eligible for the new NZB Kiwi slot race which will be worth $4million by the time they turn three, with an extra $1million in bonuses attached.

All at Ellerslie, 29kms from the sales complex.

They are numbers New Zealand buyers, breeders, vendors and anybody else involved in racing are still getting their heads around after Monday’s slot race announcement.

Of course only a fraction of the 1125 yearling catalogued for sale from Sunday to next Friday will make it to those races but most people go to the sales to buy a dream and that dream has just gotten a lot better.

Complimenting that is the overall financial health of New Zealand thoroughbred racing is better than even the craziest optimist could have dreamed five years ago so horses racing here can actually make money, or at least pay for themselves.

The Entain/TAB deal has brought serious cash and just as importantly powerful partnerships and the thoroughbred code has been by far the biggest winner, with huge stake increases while Ellerslie’s re-launch has unleashed a wave of positivity that could well wash up on Karaka come Sunday.

With Australia already boosting record stakes and New Zealand’s other biggest export market Hong Kong loosening up its ownership permits there will be strong overseas interest to challenge the local market.

“We will have a lot of overseas buyers here, our hotel bookings alone tell us that,” says New Zealand Bloodstock managing director Andrew Seabrook.

“What has happened in this industry in the last nine months has been nothing short of incredible and with our major export markets going so well we are going to have a good sale.”

Those words are backed by results as Kiwi horses, which usually cost less than yearlings purchased in Australia, continue to defy the statistics in Australia.

They win more big races and more money than they should and have even been rude enough to start winning some of Australia’s major sprint races rather than just Derbys and Oaks like they are supposed to.

Stake increases, new races and overseas heroics aside what will help next week’s sale is stalion strength after New Zealand’s stallion stocks took a few years ago.

Stallions like Proisir and Per Incanto were good stallions then but are far more commercial now and that equates to money.

Savabeel’s stock are a constant source of great returns at Karaka while others like Satono Aladdin, Almanzor, Super Seth and recently Adrossan and Contributer have boosted their appeal.

Add that to stock by Aussie stars like Zoustar, Written Tycoon, Snitzel, I Am Invincble and new flavours of the month Wootton Bassett and Too Darn Hot and the catalogue has enough stallion wattage to keep the Aussies interested through Book 1.

Those looking for value, domestic trainers and pinhookers will do more shopping in Book 2.

The sale also has the bonus of a strong first day to help set the market, including a full sister to recently-retired Prowess as Lot 21 from Hallmark Stud.

It is going to be a strong sale, that is certain. How strong may depend on how seriously the locals, particularly the syndicators, want to challenge the overseas raiders.

They have never had more reasons, 7.5million of them and counting, to try.