New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale will open at Karaka on Sunday afternoon and TDNAusNZ’s Paul Vettise chatted with Managing Director Andrew Seabrook about the catalogue, sale expectations and Saturday’s Karaka Million race day.
PV: You must be delighted with the quality and depth of the catalogue?
AS: Yes, very happy with the overall strength of the catalogue. The support we have received this year from our vendors and breeders has been the strongest in many years. That makes our job in promoting the catalogue that much easier. The thing that is exciting me the most though, is that several people whom I respect have told me the line-up on type is better than last year, so that’s pleasing to hear.
PV: What are your expectations of the sale?
AS: I’m a little nervous, as I always am heading in to a big sale I guess. Our hotel bookings are very good and I’m confident the international buying bench will be as strong as ever. The big question is how active will the New Zealanders be.
"The big question is how active will the New Zealanders be. " - Andrew Seabrook
PV: Do you ever set any sale targets?
AS: Just loosely. Turnover in 2018 was up 20 per cent on the previous year to record the second-best sale in history. I’d be over the moon if we could match last year’s figures.
PV: Do you place much store on the Ready To Run Sale and Magic Millions results?
AS: It was a good start to the sales season in Queensland, although with stakes money in Australia so strong, along with the $10 million Magic Million prize-money, it was no real surprise. There will naturally be buyers that missed out over there so we are hoping for a bit of a flow-on effect. It has been well documented that our Ready To Run Sale was down. However, that sale has always been very cyclical. The smart investors will go again at this sale as I’m sure the 2019 Ready To Run Sale will turn around significantly.
"There will naturally be buyers that missed out over there (Magic Millions) so we are hoping for a bit of a flow-on effect." - Andrew Seabrook
PV: Where do you expect the buying strength to come from?
AS: Australia has always been our main buying bench and will continue to be so. I’m happy with the Australian accommodation bookings we have. Our horses have been performing well in Hong Kong, highlighted by Beauty Generation of course, so I expect them to be strong.
PV: Is the international interest as strong as ever?
AS: Outside Australia and Hong Kong, expect to see a couple more Americans on the ground, along with a prominent English agent making his first trip to Karaka. We have a couple of big groups coming in from China that should be pretty active. Singapore participation will be good and we will also have a sprinkling of buyers from Macau, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.
PV: Do you expect the Singapore presence to be affected by their domestic racing changes?
AS: Possibly, although I thought they would spend less at the Ready To Run Sale because of the reduction in prize-money, but that didn’t actually eventuate.
PV: You must be thrilled with the success of the new sale format, ie Book 1 and Book 2?
AS: Yes, it was a bit of a gamble but it seems most of the major catalogues are increasing in numbers. Our prime objective was to showcase more horses in front of more international buyers. Overseas buyers spent on average an extra 1.2 days than they have in the past so it seems to have worked.
PV: Also, the changes to the Karaka Million race day?
AS: Moving the races to the Saturday evening and adding three Group races to the card has been a success. I think the six-race twilight programme works really well and it’s now arguably the best day’s racing in New Zealand. I’m really looking forward to Saturday, as the fields are fantastic and the crowd could be a record-breaker.
"I’m really looking forward to Saturday, as the fields are fantastic and the crowd could be a record-breaker. " - Andrew Seabrook
PV: Can you see the seven-figure mark being reached again at the sale?
AS: I hope so, but I’m not going to stick my neck on the block and pick one! There are a few horses that may test the magical mark.
PV: Who is your tip for first-season sire honours?
AS: The two highest-profile New Zealand-based first-season sires are Contributer and Mongolian Khan. The feedback on them has been very positive indeed, so I expect them to fight it out.