Joe Walls, the 'Voice of Karaka' raises his gavel for the final time.
The two-year-old filly Melody Belle launched the 91st National Yearling Sales Series by taking out the $1m Karaka Millions of 1200m for two-year-olds at Ellerslie Racecourse on Sunday 29 January.
The $1m Karaka Million carries restricted listed status and is a New Zealand Bloodstock incentive races open to all yearlings sold at Karaka in 2016. It is now one of New Zealand’s two principal races.
Now in its 10th year the Karaka Million is run on the eve of the Karaka Premier Sale conducted on 30, 31 January where some 465 best quality yearlings in New Zealand and Australia are being offered.
Melody Belle was a $57,500 purchase by David Ellis of Te Akau Racing at the 2016 Premier Yearling Sale, bred by Marie Leicester and from the Hauni Farm draft. She has now won two of her four starts and is by the outstanding deceased sire Commands from the Iffraaj mare Meleka Belle, with her half-sister by O’Reilly on offer at this year’s Select Yearling Sale.
Trained by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, jockey Opie Bosson had Melody Belle running in fourth position in the Karaka Million, before taking the lead on entering the straight and to skip away, holding off the late challenges of Hasahalo, a $110,000 2016 Premier Sale purchase by Savabeel, and Felton Road, by Pins a $20,000 Select Yearling buy.
The Graham Richardson trained filly Volpe Veloce now has an unbeaten seven-from-seven career record by taking out an highly exciting NZ Bloodstock Insurance sponsored $750,000 Karaka 3YO Mile. Volpe Veloce was a $240,000 buy at the 2015 Premier Sale from Lyndhurst Farm.
She defeated a top quality eight-horse field which included the Group 1 winners Sacred Elixir and Heroic Valour, the Group 1 placed winner Jon Snow and fellow Gr2 winner Swissta. Volpe Veloce is by the outstanding new sire Foxwedge from the Group 3 winner Bardego, and half-sister to the good stakes winner Delago Bolt.
As from 2018 the Karaka 3YO Mile will be run as the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic with restricted listed status. It will remain a 1600m event open to all 2016 Karaka Million entries especially those who excel over 1600m, aiming for the Guineas events and onto the Derby and future Classics.
The quality staying mare Chenille, ridden by Tony Pike for Leith Inness, scored her seventh career win in taking out the $100,000 Windsor Park Stud Stayers Cup of 2200m. A graduate of the 2013 Premier Yearling Sale Chenille is by the outstanding sire Pentire from the O’Reilly mare Charmed.
Now dubbed the International Sale, this year’s Premier Sale attracted buyers from Australia, China, Dubai, Ireland and Britain who purchased 70% of the two day sale lots resulting in a $41.1 million turnover. Australian buyers purchased 53%, $30.9 million, of all the Premier Sale horses sold.
The highly prominent China Horse Club again showed their strength by purchasing five Premier Sale yearlings for a total of $2.19 million at an average of $438,000. Their top price being Lot 260, the Savabeel-Love Diamonds filly, whose granddam is Cambridge Stud’s highly influential Tristalove.
The China Horse Club, in partnership with Alan Bell Racing and Newgate Farm, topped the Premier Sale by purchasing Lot 10 the O’Reilly-Volkrose colt for $825,000 from the Rutherford family’s Beltana Stud.
A full brother to Newmarket Handicap winner Shamexpress was described by China Horse Club’s racing and bloodstock manager Michael Wallace as ‘a colt of exceptional quality with great core strength and balance – a rare type of colt that we haven’t seen on offer here for a while.’
Shamexpress himself finished as the Premier Sale’s leading first season sire with 13 yearlings selling for $2.5 million at an average of $192,500. His top lot was Windsor Park’s much talked about white son from The Opera House going to the China Horse Club and Ciaron Maher for a $510,000 top bid.
Michael Wallace of China Horse Club stated ‘the Shamexpress colt was an interesting one even when you look past his white colour. He has great muscle, strength and an amazing temperament.’
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Makyoum secured the sale’s second top lot, the High Chaparral- Diamond Like filly, from the iconic Eight Carat family, for $800,000. It was highly documented that Cambridge Stud’s Sir Patrick Hogan was selling exclusively this year at Karaka and ‘was not holding anything back.’
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makyoum’s Godolphin stated it is always looking to upgrade their broodmare band and for their Australian racing operation they purchased Lot 58 the Savabeel-Banchee filly for $750,000.
This was Godolphin’s first purchased at Karaka with Pencarrow Stud’s Banshee, by Danehill son Oratorio, being NZ Champion 2YO in winning the Diamond Stakes, and being the half-sister to two group stakes winners including Katie Lee, the NZ Champion 3YO and One Thousand Guineas winner.
Karaka’s favourite ‘kiwi’ David Ellis of Te Akau Racing, was the Premier sale’s leading purchaser by Aggregate in paying $4.19 million for 26 lots to be prepared by Champion NZ trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards. His top buy was Cambridge Stud’s Lot 312 the Exceed and Excel colt for $625,000 being the first foal of the winning and NZ Two Thousand Guineas placed Oasis Rose.
The International Premier Sale of the 91st NZ National Sales Series concluded with a $58,407,500 sale aggregate, up 5% on 2016, an average of $172,803 with a median of $140,000, resulting in a 78% clearance rate on the 338 yearlings sold from the original 465 catalogued.