Posts Tagged ‘2014 New Zealand yearling sales’

It is hard enough to breed for yearling sales, and even harder when the time gap between decision making and bid is about 2.5 years apart – a timespan when trends change, reputations are made or lost, freak 2yos appear or not, and stakes can encourage or totally turn off buyers.

Add into that volatile mix the situation where the sire of the horse you breed suddenly vanishes from the scene.

Oh oh.

The sires that have been affected by change of situation recently include three from Alabar – Jereme’s Jet, Santanna Blue Chip  and Real Desire – and Shark Gesture, Stonebridge Regal, Rob Roy Mattgregor, Four Starzzz Shark.

The reasons for their absence is varied but the affect on the breeder of having a sire not currently available when the yearling is being sold – well, that’s a major hurdle.

Alabar in particular committed to advertising support this time around, and that was a very helpful gesture. The fact remains: absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes horses less desirable because at a very basic level there is a perception that “he didn’t work out as a sire here”.

The best result for the vendor then depends on individual outstanding types and really strong families. In my own case, I got a stunning price for my Real Desire colt, far and away beyond what other very nice Real Desires I saw at Karaka and Christchurch got. He was a beautiful type of yearling, but not so incredibly far ahead of some others by the same sire – I was really impressed by ones like Goforjack from the very good mare Laurent Perrier, for example, but he struggled to get a bid at $14,000.

The averages for Real Desire yearlings were skewed by the $84,000 for one sale, so better to look at each sale separately. At Karaka 4 sold and 3 were bought back, for an average sale price of $26,500, but if you take out the top lot, the average was just $7,333. At Christchurch he had 15 yearlings sold and 9 bought back, for an average of $14,033.  All the Karaka lots that were bought back or passed in without a bid were fillies, and the fillies at Christchurch also struggled to get decent bids.

Look at the length of  body in Real Desire’s progeny; it’s something Real Desire often stamps, along with legs that reach. His record is good, from a career that means there is a lack of young racing stock at the moment. He had 152 live foals in 2008, was absent the next year, 51 live foals in 2010, 37 in 2011, and these yearlings were from his biggest crop of 159 live foals in 2012, when the performance of his earlier foals encouraged breeders to go again. He was missing again last year and I doubt he will be back unless these yearlings jump out of their skins.

I asked around quite a few buyers, trainers and breeders what it was about Real Desires that put people off, what the problem was. And the answer was never specific – often along the lines of “I don’t see anything wrong with them myself but a lot of people don’t like them.”  Nothing tangible. In fact a lot of them spoke favourable about specific Real Desires they knew or had trained.

On type, I really liked what I saw of the Shark Gestures. They look bigger, bolder types that could need time, but wow they looked strong and handsome. What a horse he was, from a juvenile to older racehorse! And a strong pedigree. Now he is based in Ohio, but the one year he was available via Wai Eyre Farm was an opportunity missed by many, and I believe those breeders who took that opportunity were hard done by at the yearling sales. I will follow them with interest.

Jereme’s Jet is another matter, and I will delve into that over the next month. Like many (when I saw his big bum and strong but more compact body) I thought he might be leaving those early sprinty types. He’s not really, but his statistics are showing something really interesting. More on that later. Suffice to say, there were several Jereme’s Jets who really caught my eye and some astute buyers got them cheap.

I have also covered Santanna Blue Chip previously so won’t go over that ground except to say that his 5 yearlings for sale across both North Island and South Island yearling sales went for $3000-$11,000, including one passed in on vendor’s bid. And yet he is a sire that stamps an attractive athleticism on his foals, but perhaps not the strong bold look some buyers are wanting.

Below are some photos of the yearlings by Real Desire and by Shark Gesture, who was here one minute, gone the next.

In all cases, I did not inspect the yearlings so there may have been reasons why the prices were so low, other than the commercial appeal of the sire himself – but many of these sires struggled to attract competitive buying interest in the ring, in spite of looking the part.

I think that is a huge shame, the often the vendor is not getting a price the individual yearling deserves. And if that individual is a filly, of course that immediately reduces the value as the sire’s ability to produce good race fillies is one big question mark. Having said that, it is interesting to see the prices paid for bold types, like a couple of the Shark Gesture fillies, held up relatively well.

Photos below of some Real Desire, Shark Gesture and Santanna Blue Chip yearlings.

Some of the  Real Desire yearlings at the 2014 sales:

LOT 111 Real Desire  colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family - he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

LOT 111 Christchurch, Real Desire colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family – he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

Lot 123 a Real Desire colt  from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 123, Christchurch, a Real Desire colt from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 313 Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Lot 313 Christchurch, Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Some of the Shark Gestures:

Shark Gesture yearling colt

Lot 99 Christchurch, Shark Gesture colt bought for $8000

Shark Gesture yearling filly

Lot 191 Christchurch, Shark Gesture filly from Holmes Hanover mare Electrify, dam of Lochinvar, was sold for just $3000.

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare,  sold for $11,500

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare, sold for $11,500

One of the Santanna Blue Chip yearlings:

Santanna Blue Chip filly yearling

Lot 95 at Karaka,  Santanna Blue Chip filly from Erinyes bought back at $6000

Santanna Blue Chip yearling colt

Lot 109 Christchurch, Santanna Blue Chip colt from Dream Bel family




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Gotta Go Cullect had just 4 yearlings at the sales this year, selling for $13,000, $12,000, $7,500 and one passed in on a vendor’s bid of $5000 with a reserve of $10,000. That’s an average of lots sold of just over $10,000, and overall not a bad result compared to some of the other newer sires. His service fee affordability probably meant those who sold yearlings were close to breaking even, and expectations would have been realistic I think.

Like Art Official he stands at Alabar in the North Island but he had no representatives at the North Island yearling sale at Karaka. That is definitely a reflection on how he is viewed commercially by top end breeders and buyers who are the core of the Karaka sale.

The only photo I got on the day is this one of Lot 62, a nice strong type of colt from a Safely Kept mare who got the top price of $13,000. He’s being led around by Ken Spicer who is quite a tall, solid bloke, so you can get an impression he’s a bigger, bolder type of yearling and quite appealing to buyers. See his promotional photo at end of the blog.

Below the photo I do a quick summary of Gotta Go Cullect’s siring career to date. I think he’s filling a great niche in the breed-to-race market, but unless his 3yos really put the foot down on the accelerator, I can’t see many more of his yearlings turning up at the yearling sales. The recent performing families that get good prices would be taking a commercial risk to go to a sire that is not really priced for top-end sales. For example, Lot 49, the only filly, was an attractive yearling and is also the half sister to Lochaburn, the 3yo colt by Christian Cullen who has so far chalked up 8 wins from 12 starts. The mare, Suzy’s Delight is back in foal to Christian Cullen now, which makes a lot of sense commercially for breeder Mike Stratford.

Lot 62 Gotta go Cullect colt by Safely Kept mare

Lot 62 Gotta go Cullect colt by Safely Kept mare

Of the sons of our great sire Christian Cullen who stand at stud, Gotta Go Cullect has received the most support from breeders so far. He has had four good books of mares and now has just over 220 live foals at age 2 or 3, i.e. racing age.

As I’ve mentioned before in my blog late January (New sires trying to gain traction) not many of his foals to date seem to be racing or winning as 2yos; they seem to need a bit more time to develop than you might have expected from a sire whose own sire and dam were both precocious, tough youngsters.

Gotta Go Cullect’s stats are now 45 qualifiers and 11 winners (and I see there is some action over in Australia with some of his Australian born progeny, but I’m not going to delve into detail on that at this stage). As a sire, Gotta Go Cullect is hovering around 20% qualifiers to live foals, and 5% winners to live foals to date (bearing in mind that his oldest are only 3).

Breaking his stats down a bit more:

  • He has 78 registered foals born in NZ who are currently 2yos. Of those,  there are 6 starters (7.6%), no winners.
  • He has 108 registered foals born in NZ who are currently 3yos. Of those 25 are starters (23%), 11 are winners (10.8%).

Of course the season has not finished yet and these figures will change over the next 4 months. But there is a bit of a trend which, as I say, is indicating that in spite of his own breeding and own track performance (4 wins from just 5 starts as a 2yo), Gotta go Cullect is not showing up as a sire of precocious horses. Well, he’s like most sires in that way. And like most sires trying to make their mark, he will need to counter that by coming up with half a dozen eye catching 3yos who show up at premier race nights rather than on the grass at Rangiora. Royal Counsel is certainly helping the cause with a very good win in the Southern Oaks recently.

One of the best and first to race here was his son Offtocullect who was exported to Western Australia and has 3 more wins to add to the 4 he got here in NZ and a 1.57.7 MR. He got one of his wins as a 2yo, but so far none of this season’s 2yo Gotta Go Cullects have managed a win. Offtocullect is the sort of horse that catches the attention of future buyers and gives a bit of confidence. Alabar NZ is selling a full sister to Offtocullect at their weanling sale on 30 May. The dam is Shazza’s Dream, a Pacific Rocket mare from the useful Marika/Russianero family.

Lot 49 Gotta Go Cullect filly from Washington VC mare. She's a half sister to the very talented Lochaburn.

Lot 49 Gotta Go Cullect filly from Washington VC mare. She’s a half sister to the very talented Lochaburn.

Lot 62 Gotta Go Cullect colt from Safely Kept mare

Lot 62 Gotta Go Cullect colt from Safely Kept mare. Same yearling as in the photo I took on the sales day.




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The omens were not good when Art Official, who stands at Alabar Stud in south Auckland, had no representatives at the North Island’s Australasian yearling sale at Karaka. That surprised me, especially as his first crop of racehorses in North America had some good 2yo representatives. Simply, he is not viewed to be commercial enough. His pricing indicates that reality – he initially stood at $6000 at Stallion Station in 2010, but that was reduced to $3750 when he moved to Alabar  the following season and remains around there, which is more realistic. As a racehorse he was superb, and he is by a Falcon Seelster mare which is something New Zealanders can strongly relate to. She is the full sister to the million dollar winning mare Shady Daisy, but overall the maternal family is not as strong as some. In each generation there seems to be a standout, but other siblings are well behind that.

I think the change in Art Official’s pricing structure is also a reflection of the growing popularity of Art Major here (after several seasons where Australians loved him but New Zealand breeders and trainers were in two minds about him and he had small crops here). So like some other sires, there is an element of the son competing with the father, and that’s an arm wrestle that Art Major appears to have won.

If he was absent at Karaka, he was well represented in Christchurch yearling sale, where he had 11 yearlings, with the result of 7 sold, 3 passed in on vendor’s bid, and one that got no bid at all.

His average was $10,714 and the top price was $25,000 for Lot 235 Hashtag, a colt from a Live Or Die mare who was a bigger, bolder type.

The next in terms of price was $16,000 for a nice filly Lot 199, bred and prepared by Ray Beale at Oamaru. Again, a bigger, bolder type of horse. And the next best price after that was $11,500 for Lot 324, an attractive colt. (See photos below).


Lot 235 Hashtag an Art Offical colt

Lot 235 Hashtag, an Art Offical colt that sold for $25,000

Lot 199 Art Official filly from Wingspread mare

Lot 199 Art Official filly from Wingspread mare

Lot 324 Art Official colt from a New York Motoring mare

Lot 324 Art Official colt from a New York Motoring mare

To be honest, overall the Art Officials were not yearlings that caught my eye as a group in the same way the Changeovers did.  The “sire stamp” I could see (without examining yearlings in any detail for correctness issues) was a more elegant type of yearling, and by that I mean a finer boned horse, one whom you might see as racy and correct, but with an unknown factor in terms of strength, (whereas with Changeover, you can see more potential strength, but perhaps lacking the fineness.)

What do you think? I’d love to hear what you make of Art Official yearlings and 2yos that you have had something to do with, bred, bought or are training. Please add a comment to this blog or email me (check my email address on the About Isa Lodge page).

Photos below, a couple of the other Art Officials at the sale who went from less or were vendor buy-backs:

Lot 184 Art Official filly from Christian Cullen mare

Lot 184 Art Official filly from Christian Cullen mare

Lot 81 Art Official colt from Sokys Atom mare

Lot 81 Art Official colt from Sokys Atom mare

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The next new sire I want to look at is Panspacificflight. He’s a sire  who has always caught my eye on his breeding and the combination of size, reach and speed he had as a racehorse himself and which he has passed on to some of his progeny (there is a dvd available from Macca Lodge and plenty of videos online).

At the Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch this year I met Mark and Pauline O”Connor (of Denario breeding) and Brent McIntyre (of Macca Lodge, which stands Panspacificflight) and had a good look at the yearlings in the parade and sale. Panspacificflight had his second crop of yearlings for sale.

Last year he had 5 yearlings, 4 sold ($10,500, $17,000, $20,000, $25,000) and one was passed in.  That was a very solid start, commercially. Of the 4 sold, 2 have qualified as 2yos this season including First Flight In (see my recent blog).  Of his 23 registered 2yos, only 4 have qualified as 2yos but I think we’ll see a lot more as 3yos.

So the signs were positive for a good sale in 2014, but it turned out to be a lot flatter than his debut.

Of the 8 yearlings presented, 2 were passed in and the others averaged just $7063.

The best price was for a lovely looking, athletic black colt from 5-win mare Scherger Rein, which was bought by Brian Hughes for $17,000, a full brother to the mare’s previous foal (In Full Flight) that was sold last year at exactly the same price to John Dickie (and is now in the name of two of Dickie’s main owners).

Lot 36 Panspacificflight out of Sir Vancelot mare Scherger Rein was the top priced yearling from the sire at the 2014 Christchurch

Lot 36 Panspacificflight out of Sir Vancelot mare Scherger Rein was the top priced yearling from the sire at the 2014 Christchurch

However the rest of the 2014 Panspacificflight yearlings sold well below that, and would hardly be covering the costs of raising them even at the sire’s very gettable $3750 service fee.

Why? There was nothing about the yearlings that put me off; in general they seemed well proportioned, long barrelled and quite leggy but they were a mixed lot in terms of size, showing as much influence by their dams and damsires as by their 16.2hh sire. For example, Lot 77 Majestic Arden was a smaller type of colt from a Bettor’s Delight mare (sold for $8,000), whereas Lot 41 Thisismylastflight from a Christian Cullen mare looked a bolder and bigger type (passed in at $7,000).

An eyecatcher was Lot 202 Milehigh Magic who is a 2nd January foal from a Falcon Seelster mare Falcon Magic, the same family as 2yo starter First Flight In. For his age, this yearling looked a good size and beautifully presented, and was a great buy at $8,500 for Wayne Adams.

Lot 257 Fugio Denario is also by a Falcon Seelster mare who belongs to the family of Tammera and Tentative (which is a family Mark and Pauline O’Connor have long admired).

The cross with Falcon Seelster is a potentially very good one – Panspacificflight has stunning maternal lines, being from a full sister to the dam of Art Major and Perfect Art, and therefore the grandson of the great Rodine Hanover. Some of Art Major’s best performers have been from Falcon Seelster mares (Art Official being one of them.) Another Panspacificflight yearling from Falcon Seelster mare was withdrawn before the sale (Lot 98 from Tuapeka Osprey).

Artsplace is the damsire of Lot 135 First Class Arden (passed in $10,000, reserve $12,000)  – and Artsplace is a sire who has successfully crossed with Panspacificflight’s dam for the 46 win gelding Thereandpanlines (won over $900,000), plus Rodine Hanover produced Real Artist by Artsplace, and of course Art Major is by Artsplace.

Another damsires working well with Art Major and his maternal line appears to be Safely Kept, and the O’Connors put their Safely Kept mare Highview Dream to Panspacificflight to get Lot 232 Comin At Ya which sold for just $6000.

So there was some really thoughtful breeding going on here which went largely unrewarded in terms of financial return but may well prove successful on the track.

Panspacificflight himself is here because of a handshake deal between Brent McIntyre and the stallion’s Amish owner to make frozen semen available at Macca Lodge.

Like his career as a racehorse (a very good 2yo and 3yo season, suspensory injury, given his 4yo year off in the hope of getting him back to his best, but retired to stud at 5yo), Panspacificflight’s career as a sire may end up a little uneven in its progress. He stands in Indiana, and by a stud that is very locally focused. He got good numbers and good results from his first couple of years, but dropped significantly for the next two (in large part due to the arrival of Always A Virgin in the area  – see the statistics below from the Indiana Harness register). His numbers then picked up again and may well fluctuate until the bigger crops start racing. But it looks hopeful that many in Indiana returned to give him another good go.


Mares     Foals/        Winners                Total

Bred        Starters     2:00/1:55             Earnings

2007-IN 161           92/71         50/29            $4,652,116
2008-IN  104          56/44          30/18            $2,084,760
2009-IN  54             33/22          14/8               $581,048
2010-IN  91             49/27            5/2                $133,111
2011-IN  192           122/- – –
2012-IN  148           35/- – –
2013-IN  52 – – –

2009-IN  159          119/101       69/42            $3,616,121
2010-IN  153          111/67          35/11            $1,143,581
2011-IN  94               50/- – –
2012-IN  65              25/- – –
2013-IN  147 – – –

In New Zealand, his numbers of live foals is very small but the arrival of his 2yos on the track – and more as next seasons 3yos – could see interest rise. We are unlikely to see his foals at next year’s yearling sales, given the trend of numbers and prices, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some very good percentages in the long run from such small opportunities, particularly if the breeders that patronise him are thinking about the matches and giving him decent mares. As well as some of the crosses mentioned above, he’s certainly one to try with a good Live Or Die mare, in terms of latching into the top lines in his pedigree.

Panspacificflight colt Lot 77

Lot 77 Panspacificflight colt from Bettor’s Delight mare

Lot 232 Panspacificflight filly from Safely Kept mare

Lot 232 Panspacificflight filly from Safely Kept mare

Lot 202 Panspacificflight colt from Falcon Seelster mare

Lot 202 Panspacificflight colt from Falcon Seelster mare

Lot 340 Panspacificflight colt from Armbro Operative mare

Lot 340 Panspacificflight colt from Armbro Operative mare

Lot 257 Panspacificflight filly from Falcon Seelster mare

Lot 257 Panspacificflight filly from Falcon Seelster mare

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I’m taking a look at some of the newer sires, and how they performed in terms of prices gained at the yearling sales.

I’m using averages this time, but where a single result skews the overall range, I will also show the average without the top price.

Overall, the sales show again how hard it is for breeders to take a punt on new sires, no matter how good their reputation – and that’s because the buying market stands back from them. And yet if we don’t support newer sires at the commercial end of our industry, we are lacking the progressive attitude that our industry badly needs.

I’ve blogged before about this (New sires trying to gain traction, 30 January 2013) and I will follow several of the same sires this time but focusing on their sales results.

Let’s start with Changeover. When I blogged about him in January he had 11 qualifiers. That has increased to 19 and it seems like his name is popping up regularly in the results of workouts and trials, and increasingly in races. He’s had 9 starters and just the 1 winner so far. But these are good statistics from a 2yo crop of just 49 registered foals, and you hear many good reports from trainers and some of the horses that are racing look like they will win before long – Prince Of Pops, Bold Ruler and Controversial are three that come to mind.

So I was expecting buyers to be interested in his yearlings at the sales. Unfortunately there was only one offered at Karaka (Australasian), and that went for just $10,000. There were 21 in the Christchurch (Premier) catalogue, and after 2 withdrawals 19 were offered but only 13 sold on the day and 6 were passed in on vendor’s bid (but none of them had a reserve higher than $12,000). The average price for Changeover yearlings over both sales was $15,577, and the median was $12,000. If you factor in the number not making their reserve, I think his reception was weaker than the sire deserves on his own merits and breeding, and on what we’ve heard about and seen of his foals so far.

His service fee has consistently been $4000 +gst, which puts him in the realistic middle range. That helps breeders, particularly those who are doing the raising and preparation themselves, to at least cover their costs. I would guess about half of them did, and half of them didn’t. But the number passed in would alter that result unfavourably, as it is likely that sales arranged soon after the auction would be for no more than the reserve.

On type, I really liked a lot of them. Most were good sized attractive types, quite long in the barrel and “scopey”. Bold, lovely heads, plenty of leg. His results in terms of qualifiers is showing he can turn out horses with enough natural ability, good gait and willing temperament to make a competitive 2yo. And as strength develops, they will become really nice 3yos.

Changeover’s results were more solid than some of the other newer sires, but I wonder how many commercial breeders will be targeting him for yearling sale foals next year? I hope some do, and  hope the sire’s statistics on the racetrack make him a sought after product. This is a sire that owners who want good potential racehorses for a reasonable price should snap up. And a “reasonable price” should be averaging over $20,000 rather than $15,000.

If part of the role of yearling sales is to showcase a sire’s progeny, then I put a tick in Changeover’s box. Very nice types.

A Changeover yearling colt from Sly Shard

Lot 48 Christchurch, Linton Shard, a yearling colt by Changeover out of Sly Shard, which makes him a half to Smiling Shard and Pemberton Shard. Bought by Cran Dalgety for $40,000. A very good looking colt.

A Changeover yearling filly

Lot 63, Arma Night, a Changeover yearling filly from Arma Phoenix (family of Armalight), passed in on a vendor’s bid of $6,000 (res $12,000) at the Christchurch sale.

A Changeover yearling colt

Lot 64, Jakarta, a yearling colt by Changeover from the 4-win Live Or die mare Tellalie. Sold for $12,000 to Neil Darlington, Australia.

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As readers will know, over the past few years I’ve used the idea of a “virtual stable” of yearlings from the New Zealand yearling sales to track how hard it is to pick a good horse to buy at yearling sales and then to make something from it. The point being that those who do, regularly, deserved much credit. It has also been a way to encourage all breeders to take opportunities to look at a number of progeny from sires and families, and learn.

It has been a big part of my learning curve, and I try to attend sire parades, yearling, weanling and all aged sales when I can (work and budget allowing).

This year I journeyed south to Christchurch to view the two days of Premier yearling sales because the range of sires was greater than at Karaka’s Australasian Classic. (I’m still going to do a blog on the overall sale – mainly how sires fared. But I just need some time between day job, spraying paddocks, feeding out mares, cleaning out chook houses etc to do the numbers).

I ended up taking a less-than-virtual interest in one yearling, which I now have a quarter share in. His named is Father Frank, and he was lot 223, a Real Desire colt out of an Armbro Operative mare who is the grand-daughter of Our Stretto, the 35-win mare who performed very consistently in Australia in the late 1980s. Father Frank was bought by Frank and Ann Cooney for $12,500. He was one I had picked out for myself on type as much as breeding, and neither the Cooneys nor I have anything bad to say about the Real Desires. My own one (sold at Karaka) was a cracker of a yearling and I have much admiration for what the sire adds to the right mares. I approached the Cooneys after the sale to see if they would welcome my interest in him. Of course Frank co-trains and the Cooneys part-own the Real Desire racehorse Let’s Elope, whose run in the Auckland Cup was full of merit I thought, with a patient drive by Maurice McKendry allowing him to be (with Saveapatrol) the only horses really running on strongly behind Terror To Love and Adore Me in a 28.2 last quarter.

Two other yearlings in Christchurch interested me enough to make some serious enquiries – lot 142 Magnifico Denario, an Art Major filly from Averil’s Atom which makes her a half to Averil’s Quest. She went for $46,000 to

Lot 288 One Big Fella by Mister Big

Lot 288 One Big Fella by Mister Big

Australian buyers, which was outside the budget.  The other one was lot 288 (One Big Fella) an outstanding youngster by Mister Big from Falcon Seelster mare Killarney (dam of Bondy) also caught my eye enough in the parade to get him checked out. The only lot by Mister Big in the sales, he is a 20 December foal but very well put together and a lovely temperament. I wasn’t the only one taken by him – in the end he went to Nigel McGrath for $54,000.

So I’ve got 3 Christchurch yearlings for my virtual and not-so-virtual stable sorted.

Lot 36 Christchurch - Pacific Arden by Panspacificflight from Scherger Rein

Lot 36 Christchurch – Pacific Arden by Panspacificflight from Scherger Rein

Among many others from Christchurch that could easily have put their hooves in my stable were lot 31 (Freedom Fighter), a springy colt by Courage Under Fire from New York Motoring mare Rafiki, bought by Robert Dunn for $48,000; lot 36 (Pacific Arden), a lovely type of colt by Panspacificflight from 5-win Sir Vancelot mare Scherger Rein, bought by Brian Hughes for $17,000; lot 42 (Trusty Bromac), a Falcon Seelster colt from Badlands Hanover mare Taffeta Bromac, one of the Burgundy Lass family which sold for $11,000; and lot 128 (Al Coda), an athletic looking colt by Changeover from a Washington VC mare, bought by the McCutcheons for $21,000.

And for fillies, Lot 327 (Champagne Reign), an lovely alert strong filly by Christian Cullen from Camtastic mare Mainland Reign, which went for $60,000; lot 302 (Loren Franco), a good sized filly by Changeover from a Bettor’s Delight mare from a good branch of the Lancia family that was passed in to vendor’s bid at $6000 (reserve $12,000).  That was tempting! I liked lot 199 (Don’t Pass I’m Fast), an Art Official filly from Wingspread mare Fast Winger who has had 6 foals to race for 6 winners but the one that looked the most promising (Almost A Christian) died at 3. This was a bigger type of Art Officials, whose yearlings I thought generally were selling for less than they should because we struggle to like the finer but very correct type he is producing. Mind you, it was hard to get a line on buyer preferences for type, as some of the bolder types of Changeovers and Shark Gestures went for less than what I thought they were worth too. More on that later, when I look at the overall trends.

Another colt on breeding and type that I liked (and there were many) was lot 313 Goforjack out of the great mare Laurent Perrier. He looked big, boyish and a delightful racing prospect (photo bottom of this blog) but was sold to the Mitchells of Timaru for only $14,000.  A steal!

There were so many nice horses in Christchurch, a credit to preparers, and a bonus for the buyers who got many for less than cost. I had a feast of looking in Christchurch, and most of my picks are this time based on type alone. I took a lot of photos and I will share more and look at the new sires next week. “If dreams were horses, I’d have a stable…”

Please feel free to use the comment/response function to add your “tips” and “picks” of the yearling sales 2014. I will still keep tracking them as we go along.

Lot 191 Art Official filly don't Pass I'm Fast

Lot 191 Art Official filly Don’t Pass I’m Fast

Lot 313 Goforjack Real Desire colt

Lot 313 Goforjack Real Desire colt

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Maths was never my strong suit. Thanks to Helen Smith, my maths teacher who took extra classes after school, I squeezed through School Certificate maths with 54%.  And then I had to do a statistics course at university when I majored in geography. It was torture.

But at least I know the difference between “average” and “median”. Which is useful, because they can tell quite different stories about prices at the yearling sales, both overall and for individual vendors.

PGG Wrightson (who run the sales) uses averages to monitor how the sales went. It is a useful tracking tool over time, and it does indicate if there is a strong trend in one direction or another. However we know that if 5 horses sell for $10,000 and 1 sells for $100,000, the average for the 6 is $25,000. Does that really reflect what happened? If those results are for one vendor, it is a useful indicator that overall they have well covered their costs per horse and probably made a small but welcome profit, thanks to one outstanding sale. But across a day of sales or three days of sales, I am not convinced that averages mean that much.

Before I get on to “medians” here are some quotes from PGG Wrightson about the averages for this year’s sales:

(Day 1 Christchurch) A strong middle market on the first day of the two-day New Zealand Premier Sale in Christchurch yesterday (Tuesday) saw the average price lift from $22,186 in 2013 to $25,191 in 2014. Canterbury rep for PGG Wrightson, Bruce Barlass put the 14 per cent rise in prices down to a strong Canterbury and Southland presence, as well as the healthy state of dairy farming in the South Island.

(Day 2 Christchurch) The average was also well up, rising 10% to $24,536, which came down to the large number of lots which sold within the $30-$90K bracket.
“There wasn’t as many $100,000 plus yearlings as there has been in years gone by, but the middle to top market was very strong,” said PGG Wrightson’s Rachel Deegan.

Good observations, but it is interesting how the “middle market” has now been defined as around $30-40,000, which is above the average.

I understand that the Australasian Classic at Karaka had an average of $31,577 this year.

Now let’s look at what medians can tell us. The median is the middle of a range of numbers – basically the point where there are an equal number above and below it. So in terms of yearling sales, it gives a more accurate indication of how many vendors achieved a price higher or lower than that for their horse. In all cases it covers only horses sold at the auctions, not those passed in.

Add in the fact that just to cover costs a yearling probably needs to achieve $15,000 (if you have gone to a moderately priced sire and are doing the raising and preparation yourself) or over $20,000 (if you have gone to an expensive sire and are being charged for raising and preparation).  These are ballpark figures, but they give a steer on what a vendor needs as a realistic return on investment.

The median at the Australasian Classic (Karaka) sale this year was $26,000. In other words, an equal number of horses sold for less than that, and more than that.

For the total Premier (Christchurch) sale the median was $16,000. That indicates that about 126 horses sold for less and 126 horses sold for more. That’s a lot of horses not making it to break-even.

So medians paint quite a different picture compared to averages.

Father Frank a Real Desire colt

Father Frank, Christchurch Lot 223, a lovely Real Desire colt sold for only $12,500 – appropriately to Frank and Ann Cooney.

I’ll dig a little deeper, using $15,000 bands – of the almost 100 lots sold by auction at Karaka, 31 were $15,000 or less, 29 were between $16,000 and $30,000, and another 18 were between $31,000 and $45,000.  That’s about 60% of horses selling for less than $31,000, and 78% for less than $46,000. About 30% probably hardly covered costs and certainly wouldn’t have made a decent return on investment and risk.

Same story in Christchurch. 126 lots sold for less than $15,000. That’s about 50% of the lots that were sold by auction on the day. Another 87 sold between $16,000 and $30,000. That’s just over 80% of lots selling for less than $30,000.

So you can start to see why vendors were feeling a bit mixed about the results by the end of it. So much depended on whether you had enough good results or one really excellent one to average out your overall return.

Or looking at it from the other side of the business, it was a buyer’s market. Yes, there was good competition for the top end horses. But you could sense the effort required to get bidding beyond $10,000, and again to shift it over $20,000. Once over $30,000, the bigger bidders came in – and that is why many buyers with smaller pockets felt they could not get a decent look-in at the better quality, more commercially bred horses. On the other hand, they had a wealth of opportunity to pick up some very well raised attractive individuals at quite cheap prices, if they had done their homework.

The lower end prices were not necessarily a reflection on the individual product.

Often it was just a case of type, family and sire. It is such a conservative buying market. I’ll look at that in more detail next time.

Once again, these figures don’t include the passed in lots that were later sold (and quite of few of them were in the higher range). But the sheer volume of <$15,000 lots in unlikely to alter very much at all.

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Kym Kearns with Lot 39

Kym Kearns of Isa Lodge with Thephantomtollbooth at the sales.

Back in Cambridge after the Auckland and then Christchurch yearling sales. Tired but happy.

It seems strange not to look out my window and see “the boys” hanging out in the paddock or finding shade under the gum trees. Both our yearlings sold well at the Australasian sale, Karaka.

I hope they are settling in well to their new environments and stable mates, and we look forward to following their progress. I’ve updated the pages for Thephantomtollbooth and Isaputtingonmytophat – but in a nutshell, the former sold for $84,000 and the latter for $42,000. Thanks Milo and Bert!

The day after the Australasian Classic Sale I flew to Christchurch for the two-day Premier Sale, and found that very interesting. In spite of reports, neither sale provided the real boost for breeders that we had hoped for. I feel for many sellers who put very good looking products forward – but took at loss or at least no reward for their investment of time, money and thought. Newer sires were left without a clear steer on their future demand. Some sires are basically “gone”. And even established top sires were picked over.

But there are some positive signs if breeders can hang on in there.

Jamie the auctioneer

Jamie the auctioneer

My experience in Christchurch was as great as I had expected:

  • Best tip from a trainer? “Try the whitebait fritter sandwich.” YUM! Thanks Sean.
  • Best horse in the show? Fell in love with lot 288 Christchurch, the Mister Big colt who sold for $54,000. (More about him later.)
  • Best show in town? Jamie, the spotter/auctioneer who kept us awake as temperatures soared into the high 30s.

Over the next few days I’ll process my observations and photos and share those via some short blogs.

Lot 45 Christchurch, a Sundon colt with a good trotting pedigree and nice looking type goes for just $6000.

Lot 45 Christchurch, a Sundon colt with a good trotting pedigree and nice looking type goes for just $6000.

Congratulations to those who sold well. And commiserations to those who came away with a loss. I’ve been there, down in the $4000 and $7000 range and it is hard. Don’t lose heart. I think these sales were a turning point in many ways. Your passion for breeding horses is something our industry needs to recognise and reward in a wider way and over a longer period than a few moments in the auction ring.



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We (Isa Lodge) are selling our two colts at Karaka, the Australasian yearling sale on Monday.

That’s exciting enough.

For me, an extra dose of excitement is that I’m heading south afterwards for the next two days of the Premier sale in Christchurch.

And what excites me about that sale is that I’ll get a chance to see more yearlings from a wider range of sires and families than at Karaka.

Karaka is often regarded as the top end sale, and that can lead to a more constrained and commercially driven parade of offspring. That’s fine. But by the end of the day, I will be craving to get to Christchurch to see a

Lot 236 Christchurch by Kenneth J

Lot 236 Christchurch  a colt by Kenneth J from a Village jasper mare

Changeover or a Panspacificflight or a Shadow Play or a Gotta Go Cullect. I’ll be hungry for a Badlands Hanover, or a McArdle. I can’t wait to see The Pres yearlings and compare 9 Shark Gestures and 2 Raffaello Ambrosios. I’ll be so keen to check out the Santanna Blue Chips, and look at the only Mister Big, Kenneth J, Major In Art and Muscle Hill in the sales. I will even get to look at 3 Rob Roy Mattgregor colts and see if he stamped them in any way. There’s almost twice as many Jereme’s Jets as there are at Karaka! I’ve got 12 Art Official yearlings to look at, whereas there is not even one at Karaka.

Because at Auckland, Bettor’s Delight dominates again, and there’s a photo finish for Art Major and Mach Three, and then another photo for the first four between American Ideal and Rocknroll Hanover.

Then you drop back to only 7 from Real Desire, 6 from Rock N Roll Heaven and 5 from Christian Cullen. There’s only one Changeover yearling at Karaka, yet he was bred and trained in the north even if he now stands in the south. The rest is a smattering, flying solitary flags for their sires.

Lot 24 Changeover filly from Bettor's Delight mare

Lot 24 Changeover filly from Bettor’s Delight mare

At Christchurch there is variety and a feast of offerings from new and established sires, including those that are still trying to get a real foot-hold in the market. I know that is dangerous territory for vendors, an added risk on top of the usual risks of breeding. But some of these are very calculated risks – a thoughtful pedigree or type cross, or perhaps the willingness to put a sire out into the market.  A tip o’ the hat to those who go that route, knowing those risks. Our standardbred breeding and racing is the richer for your decisions. We will never win if we merely following in the tracks of others. Those who bred in previous years to Changeover or Shadow Play, for example, will be feeling a little chuffed, as those sires start to make a mark. It takes someone to lead, doesn’t it.

The range of damsires on offer follows the same pattern. At Karaka, new-ish damsires include only Mach 3 (lots 32, 56, 122, 127), Bettor’s Delight (lots 77, 55, 54), Artsplace who is a relatively minor sire here, for my N American readers (lots 66, 113, 123), Artiscape (lots 27, 88, 119), plus two Continentalman damsire credits for trotters (lots 49 and 81), one for Real Desire but I think imported (lot 13), and one Grinfromeartoear mare (lot 34 – hey, that’s my gorgeous mare The Blue Lotus and her first foal!).

Meanwhile down in Christchurch, you have plenty of representation from new-ish damsires – McArdle (lots 25, 79, 111, 116, 185, 186, 264, 308),  Bettor’s Delight (lots 24, 77, 132, 167, 177, 302, 312), and Life Sign (lots 39, 117, 172, 226, 249, 281, 349), plus solid representation by Artsplace, Artiscape, and Washington VC, and a few by Muscles Yankee, Mach Three, Pacific Rocket, Courage Under Fire, Red River Hanover and Badlands Hanover, and even Elsu, Earl, Rocknroll Hanover, CR Commando, Continentalman,  Julius Caesar and Tinted Cloud have at least got one credit as a damsire at the sale.

That isn’t a definitive list – I might have missed a few – but the overall point is valid.

Christchurch is where the variety lies.

Both sales are a reflection of the tough economic times (and the downturn in breeding numbers) about 3 years ago, when these breeding decisions were made.

Lot 254 The Pres colt out of Armbro Invasion mare

Lot 254 The Pres colt out of Armbro Invasion mare

We have had a couple of bank-account wrenching sales, and the impact is clear. Some breeders have consolidated to “the best to the best” and moved to a conservative position that at least might maximise their return. Others took the opportunity to get value for money and take a punt on new sires, and take a potentially lower sale price but hopefully retain a reasonable profit margin. And the market is different in Christchurch, where there are more buyers and trainers in the middle and lower market. Thank heavens!

There will be other reasons too, but this sale basically reflects the wake-up call we all got as the industry and the global economy shrank. It is just interesting to see the different responses.

Both options have good rationale. In the end the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” or as we say, “you will find out on the racetrack”.

Personally, I think going to Christchurch for the Premier Sale will be time and money well spent to widen my appreciation of current breeding. I’m really looking forward to reporting on what I find there.

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The last in this series looks at Lot 231 at the Premier (Christchurch) yearling sale – a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Highview Diamond, who is a Red River Hanover mare.

So that makes the colt, named Rockn Roll Xtra, 3×3 to the great producer Rich N Elegant. There are also double ups to sires – to Western Hanover 3×4, and to Direct Scooter 4x4x5. But I’m focusing on the female double up. I’m not sure the position of Rich N Elegant in the sire’s pedigree is as influential as it may appear expressed as “3×3”. I made the same comment in my Part 2 blog about Roydon Gal. Rock N Roll Heaven’s maternal line is superb, and would have much to do with his success as a racehorse and potentially as a sire. In my view, it places him well to be a sire of good fillies as well as colts.

Nevertheless, Rich N Elegant is a class act in any pedigree. I’ve blogged on Rich N Elegant before so I won’t repeat myself – see my blog of November 2012 when she died, and from there you can link to the 3-part series about her sons at stud.

Basically she has left several very, very good racehorses, and the best was definitely Rocknroll Hanover who won over $3 million. He is also the only son to etch out a second career as a highly successful sire both in North America and in Australasia. Her other sons at stud here – Rustler Hanover, Red River Hanover and Righteous Hanover – have left some good horses here and there, but not consistently top racehorses.

Still, the quality of the genes they carry from their dam’s strong pedigree and their sires could make them good propositions as damsires.

Red River anover

Red River Hanover. Photo: Nevele R Stud.

This is very much the case for Lot 231’s damsire Red River Hanover who was a million-dollar racehorse but only a very moderately successful sire. He was a tall good looking stallion, 16.2h, but from what I have heard many of his foals here were a bit ‘fizzy’ or lanky and weak –  not suited to run early – and even when given time many of them simply lacked high speed.  He was given plenty of chance at stud, having live foal crops of 127, 84, 86, 122 in his first years at Nevele R Stud, but it dropped dramatically after that and he was exported to Australia. He has left some very nice types – Garnett River and Chloe Maguire, both racing in Australia, are examples, and Drop Red won $700,000 plus in North America.

A note: Red River Hanover died in Australia of a snake bite just over a week ago. 

So let’s have a peek at Red River Hanover as a damsire so far in New Zealand. On the ground he has 19 registered foals who are 2yos or 3yos, nothing older. He also has 14 unregistered foals on the database who are not yet yearlings. Some of his daughters have had more than one foal, indicating some level of confidence in the broodmare perhaps: Qualified mare Motu Glitz N Glam has two by Real Desire; qualified mare Tiber Franco has been to Bettor’s Delight twice and to Real Desire; nice two-win mare River Belle has been to Bettor’s Delight twice; unraced Miss Elegance has been to Mach Three, Real Desire and Gotta Go Cullect; David Phillip’s Hambletonian Ltd has put unraced Cathar to American Ideal (died), Art Official, Modern Art and now Tintin In America; unraced Zoe Bromac has been twice to Falcon Seelster. There are some trends there – quite a few searching for speed and going to sires who carry another strain of Direct Scooter. And with Real Desire, the attraction may also be his maternal Golden Miss line, which Rich N Elegant also has.

Highview Diamond, however, is the only Red River Hanover mare put to Rock N Roll Heaven so far in New Zealand, to get that 3×3 double up to Rich N Elegant. In Australia, there is also an unnamed yearling filly on the same cross, being by Rock N Roll Heaven from the New Zealand Red River Hanover mare Red River Laine who was exported to Australia in 2008.

A quick check shows to date in New Zealand and Australia, mares by Rustler Hanover haven’t been tried on this cross with Rock N Roll Heaven yet, either – but Rustler Hanover’s overall record as a broodmare sire looks quite promising with the likes of Shelbyville and Glenferrie Rustler (both raced in Australia), Franco Nikau and Franco Nadal, and the successful trotter now in Australia (Our) Dolly Would whose breeding is a bit of a surprise for a trotter, being by Artsplace from a Rustler Hanover mare Dixie Darlin (who is from the same family as Courage Under Fire). Sorry just an odd aside!

Rich N Elegant’s third son at stud here, Righteous Hanover, had very few foals and only one so far has been tried as a broodmare, the 7 win Samarias Bromac who has a weanling by Falcon Seelster. There are a few more in Australia, but none using the cross to Rich N Elegant.

Another siring son Richess Hanover never stood ‘down under’ as far as I am aware.

The fourth son is the top sire Rocknroll Hanover, but of course as the sire of Rock N Roll Heaven his mares would be out of the question for that cross. However there is a 2013 colt foal in Australia who is by Rocknroll Hanover from a Red River Hanover mare (Nolarama) which would make it inbred 2×3 to Rich N Elegant, so I guess you never know what breeders might try!

Of course it is very early days for Rock N Roll Heaven as a sire, and more foals 3×3 to Rich  Elegant may turn up in future.

Looking at Lot 231 overall, it’s a family that has had some strength back a bit with the Venetian Star/Star Rhapsody branch, but other branches have not kicked on. His dam Highview Diamond is being given every chance to reverse those fortunes. The result of her first mating is a 3yo filly by American Ideal who looked okay at workouts late last year and has had only one race start to date – her name is Highview Idol. Lot 231 is her next foal, and the Strongs forked out the service fee for a top quality sire and one who throws that interesting double up to Rich N Elegant into the mix.

You can see the colt on PGG Wrightsons Sale of the Stars website – video for Lot 231. He looks a good enough type and it will be interesting to view him in person when I’m down in Christchurch.

Certainly, Rich N Elegant is a very classy mare to have twice in your pedigree!

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