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Ellis lands record blow to close stunning NZB Sale

12 min read
Te Akau’s David Ellis struck late during the closing session of New Zealand Bloodstock’s spectacularly successful Ready to Run Sale to bag the auction-topper when he paid a record NZ$700,000 for Lot 298, a son of Savabeel from Riversley Park’s draft.

At A Glance

Te Akau’s David Ellis, the top buyer with nine purchases for NZ$1,520,000, landed top lot, going to a Sale record NZ$700,000 for a Savabeel colt offered by Riversley Park and the highest price paid at a Ready to Run Sale.

Cambridge trainer John Bell beats opposition to land an Exceed And Excel colt from Lyndhurst Farm for NZ$525,000.

A total of 185 lots sold over the two days for NZ$17,639,500 at an average of NZ$95,349, a median of NZ$60,000 at a clearance rate of 77 per cent.

Twelve months ago, 257 horses sold for NZ$23,585,500 at an average of NZ$91,772, a median of NZ$60,000 and a clearance rate of 74 per cent.

Sam Beatson’s Riversley Park was the leading vendor for the fourth year in succession after selling 23 horses for NZ$4,152,500 at an average of NZ$180,543.

Savabeel was the leading sire with five lots sold for NZ$1,352,000 at an average of NZ$270,400.

Spectacular Sale

The outstanding success of NZB’s Ready to Run Sale, held in a year like no other due to COVID-19, stunned industry participants and the auction company with results exceeding wildest expectations.

A total of 185 lots sold over the two days for NZ$17,639,500 at an average of NZ$95,349, a median of NZ$60,000 and at a clearance rate of 77 per cent.

“It’s pretty hard to explain really to be honest. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and it feels a bit surreal looking at the results,” NZB Bloodstock Sales Manager Danny Rolston said.

“It’s a great result for the Ready to Run Sale and a good shot in the arm for the New Zealand industry and bodes well heading into Karaka 2021.

“It’s a great result for the Ready to Run Sale and a good shot in the arm for the New Zealand industry and bodes well heading into Karaka 2021." - Danny Rolston

“Ten days ago we knew we couldn’t have done any more as far as our preparation went and the development of the technology.

“As each day went by and the registrations for the online platform came in we became more confident, but without getting over confident. A clearance rate of 77 per cent is significant for a 2-year-old sale in any given year, let alone this one.”

NZB Managing Director Andrew Seabrook was also thrilled with the final outcome.

“It’s been an amazing success, at the start we were cautiously optimistic but this has exceeded our wildest dreams,” he said.

“Our online bidding platform was so user friendly and it has worked incredibly well, and is responsible for more than 31 per cent of the total turnover.

“To be honest, we didn’t know how it was going to go, but to sell 60 lots for NZ$100,000 or more in this current climate is nothing short of phenomenal.”

Success in absentia

For David Ellis it wasn’t quite business as usual toward the end of Day 2 at Karaka as he had to leave early, but still made certain he bagged the son of Savabeel he had marked as the top colt on show at the Sale for NZ$700,000.

“I had to be at the Annual General Meeting of the Waikato Racing Club. My wife has been Chairman for seven years and they asked me to attend because they were giving her a Life Membership,” he said.

“Karyn and I have both been Chairman of the Club and are both now Life Members and the Board asked me to attend. I left the bidding on the last two horses we bought in the capable hands of Jamie Richards.”

Lot 298 - Savabeel x Miss Opulence (NZ) (colt)

Ellis had also listened to reports from leading jockey Danielle Johnson ahead of the Sale.

“Danielle had been riding the colt leading into the breeze-up and she said she had been riding in the breeze-ups for 14 or 15 years and he was the best colt that she had ever breezed up,” he said.

“She does a lot of riding for the stable and is a very, very good judge. We think he is the best type of Savabeel, he’s not too heavy and is beautifully balanced with a lovely attitude and a very correct colt.

“We think he is the best type of Savabeel, he’s not too heavy and is beautifully balanced with a lovely attitude and a very correct colt.” – David Ellis

“Max and Joe (Smithies, Monovale Farm) have bred a lot of very good horses and this is their best family. We wanted the colt at any cost and already 50 per cent of him has been sold and it’s a thrill for a guy like Jamie to have him in the stable.”

Ellis also spoke in glowing terms of New Zealand Bloodstock’s efforts to make the Sale such a hit.

David Ellis and Jamie Richards

“I am just in awe of New Zealand Bloodstock and no short-cuts were taken and everything was in beautiful condition and the organisation was an absolute credit to the company,” he said.

“In a pandemic it was quite incredible and it’s a Sale I’ll never forget, it’s just been so successful.

“It’s been quite remarkable this week to see what a top company can do. There have been some fantastic prices and there’s been a really good feel about the place.”

“It’s been quite remarkable this week to see what a top company can do.” – David Ellis

Bred by the Smithies family’s Monovale Holdings, the Savabeel youngster is the first foal of the unraced O’Reilly (NZ) mare Miss Opulence (NZ).

She is a half-sister to the six-time Group 1 winner Sir Slick (NZ) (Volksraad {GB}) and to the dual top-flight winner and sire Puccini. It’s also the family of the dual Group 2 winner Amarula (NZ) (Thorn Park).

“It’s been a great Sale and very positive. We knew he was a lovely colt and would bring some money, but probably not NZ$700,000 so it’s fantastic,” Beatson said.

Darci Brahma’s best

Meanwhile, Ellis believes the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree with Lot 219, a son of Darci Brahma (NZ) he went to NZ$350,000 to secure from Lilywhites Lodge’s consignment.

“A few years ago I bought Darci Brahma here and he was the Champion 2, 3 and 4-year-old and a fantastic success at stud,” he said.

“I have been waiting to buy what I thought was a really top Darci Brahma yearling and I had to go to the Ready to Run Sale.

"I was here three days ago and I said to Jamie that’s the best Darci Brahma I have ever seen and I look at every Darci Brahma at any sale in Australasia. He is an absolute stand-out so I pinned my ears back and got him.”

Lot 219 - Darci Brahma (NZ) x Granadilla (NZ) (colt)

The colt is out of Granadilla (NZ) (Encosta De Lago) and she is a half-sister to the G3 Eulogy S. winner Lilikoi (NZ) (Charm Spirit {Ire}).

There is an international element to the family with the third dam Damson (Ire) (Entrepreneur {GB}) the Group 1 winner of the Curragh Phoenix S.

Massive result

For Lilywhites Lodge Principal and former successful jumps jockey Derek Nolan the Sale represented the highlight of his brief selling career.

“It’s a great result and he was a lovely colt who kept developing and was very popular. We thought he may get close to NZ$200,000 so it’s super,” he said.

“This is only my second Ready to Run draft and by far my best result, I’m very lucky.”

“This is only my second Ready to Run draft and by far my best result, I’m very lucky.” - Derek Nolan

Nolan’s Shocking colt also sold well on Wednesday and as Lot 82 was knocked down to agent Phill Cataldo for NZ$150,000 on behalf of Victorian interests.

The 2-year-old’s second dam Emerald (NZ) (Grosvenor {NZ}) was a G1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner and another relative Philippa Rush (NZ) (Prince Echo {USA}) also won the Riccarton Classic.

Early excitement

It didn’t take long for the fireworks to go off on Day 2 when Cambridge trainer John Bell paid NZ$525,000 for Lot 169, a handsome son of Exceed And Excel from Lyndhurst Farm’s draft.

The colt is from a rich Group 1 family and a healthy return on the $100,000 the Cambridge operation of Mark and Shelley Treweek paid for him at the Inglis Sydney Weanling Sale where he was consigned by Fernrigg Farm.

Bell purchased the Exceed And Excel youngster for a long-standing Hong Kong client, who wished to remain anonymous, and joked he had been pushed to the limit by the cajoling skills behind the rostrum.

Lot 169 - Exceed And Excel x Chateau d'Yquem (NZ) (colt)

“If it had of been any other auctioneer than Steve Davis I would have got him for NZ$75,000 to NZ$100,000 cheaper – he’s a hell of an auctioneer,” he said.

“I’ve bought him for a Hong Kong permit-holder and a very good client for many years and we’ll leave it at that. We’ll trial him here and see what he’s got and he’ll go up to Hong Kong in about six months.”

Bidding opened at NZ$150,000 and Bell said he went NZ$25,000 over budget to seal the deal.

“He’s a cross between Julius and Mosse with great height and athleticism. There are so many X-factors about him in every way and he’s got a great temperament. He’s my kind of horse.”

“There are so many X-factors about him in every way and he’s got a great temperament. He’s my kind of horse.” – John Bell

Mosse (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) won five races for Bell including the G3 Concorde H. and Julius (NZ) (Swiss Ace) has won nine races with victory in the G1 Railway S. his career-best performance.

On the opening day, Bell also bought a Per Incanto (USA) colt, Lot 66, from the family of the G1 New Zealand Oaks winner Vapour Trail (NZ) (Jetball) for $160,000 from Riversley Lodge’s draft and Kilgravin Lodge’s Lot 102, a son of Capitalist whose second dam is the former Champion Stayer Ethereal (NZ) (Rhythm {USA}).

Under their Lyndhurst Farm banner, Mark and Shelley Treweek have been successful Ready to Run Sale vendors for many years and have sold seven subsequent Group 1 winners through past Karaka drafts.

They presented a small but select draft this time around and knew the Exceed And Excel colt was their flagship representative.

“We did have a Brazen Beau colt that had to be withdrawn after an issue with x-rays and there had been a lot of interest in him, but this horse had been our pick of the Sale for a fair while,” Mark Treweek said.

“It’s a fantastic result and he is a lovely horse and we’ve had a lot of time for him from the time we broke him in.

“We didn’t expect to get that much for him, but Exceed is a great sire in Hong Kong and Australia and when you get a nice one that can gallop you’re on to a good thing. We had the right horse for the Sale.

“We’ve done well with the Exceeds and sold Mr Stunning, who was a champion in Hong Kong.”

Watch: Lot 169 breeze-up

The Exceed And Excel colt is out of Chateau D’Yquem (NZ) (Pins) and she is a half-sister to the dual Group 1 winner Gee I Jane (NZ) (Jahafil {GB}) and the G3 Fayette Park S. winner Miss Jessie Jay (NZ) (Spectacularphantom {USA}).

She is the dam of the two-time Group 1 winner Katie Lee (NZ) (Pins), whose half-sister Banchee (NZ) (Oratorio {Ire}) was successful in the G1 Diamond S.

Treweek said with COVID-19 ruling out any significant number of offshore visitors, there was an unusual feeling at the complex.

“We have been very quiet with the parades, but there have been some serious lookers although not as many obviously as previous years.

“It’s been a strong Sale and New Zealand Bloodstock has done extremely well.”

Quality Tavistock colt

The third-highest price of the day was NZ$450,000 for a Tavistock (NZ) colt, Lot 305, from Curraghmore’s consignment and signed for by agent Bruce Perry.

“I thought he was a lovely horse, he was very well balanced and had a lot of presence about him,” Perry said.

“He just looked a ripper. For me, he was the pick of the colts in the Sale and he has been bought as a middle distance Derby horse.”

Lot 305 - Tavistock (NZ) x Mourasana (GB) (colt)

A half-brother to the winner The Golden Bear (Pierro), the Tavistock 2-year-old is out of Mourasana (GB) (Shirocco {Ger}) who was a winner and black type-placed in France. She is a half-sister to the dam of the G1 Sydney Cup winner Mourayan (Ire) (Alhaarth {Ire}).

“He obviously caught a lot of attention at the breeze-ups and we know Tavistock can get a top horse. He’s a supreme sire of middle distance and Classic horses and this colt has a very good pedigree,” Curraghmore’s Gordon Cunningham said.

“I’d say he’s a Classic horse, no question and this is what we produce in New Zealand.”

One of a kind

A unique offering from Ohukia Lodge was Lot 230 and as the only representative of Siyouni (Fr) in the Sale he was the subject of major interest and was eventually knocked down for NZ$350,000 to Hong Kong interests.

“That was a good result, very happy with that and he has showed us a fair bit and showed he can gallop,” Jamie Beatson said. “He came out of Magics and was targeted for this Sale.”

Purchased by Jamie Bayliss out of Sledmere Stud’s draft at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $220,000, the colt is the first foal of Hidden Gem (GB) (Shamardal {USA}) and she boasts a strong international pedigree.

The page features Harzand (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), Group 1 winner of the English and Irish Derbies, and the G1 Ascot British Champions’ Fillies’ & Mares’ S. winner Seal Of Approval (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}).

The only 2-year-old by Bobby’s Kitten (USA), Lot 247, was also popular and the JC Thoroughbreds-offered gelding was sold for NZ$320,000 to bloodstock agent John White.

That was a top return on the $55,000 paid for him at the Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale from the draft of Glastonbury Farms.

He is out of the Not A Single Doubt mare Just A Girl and she was recently represented by her first winner when Nantucket (Rubick) was successful at Bendigo.

Top lots

298SavabeelMiss OpulenceColtRiversley Park LtdMr DC EllisNZ$700,00010.28
54Sacred FallsSavabeel StarColtRiversley Park LtdRichardson RacingNZ$525,00010.77
169Exceed and ExcelChateau d'YquemColtLyndhurst FarmBell RacingNZ$525,00010.74
305TavistockMourasanaColtCurraghmoreBruce Perry Bloodstock (BAFNZ)NZ$450,00011.92
3SavabeelOn BroadwayColtOhukia Lodge LtdBusuttin / Young RacingNZ$400,00010.52
219Darci BrahmaGranadillaColtLilywhites LodgeMr DC EllisNZ$350,00010.94
230SiyouniHidden GemColtOhukia Lodge LtdMr V HuiNZ$350,00010.42
2Not A Single DoubtO'NaturelleColtJamieson ParkMr GE HardingNZ$320,00010.49
247Bobby's KittenJust a GirlGeldingJC Thoroughbreds LtdRichard Laming Racing / John White BloodstockNZ$320,00010.81
32HeadwaterRaischekColtRegal FarmRichardson RacingNZ$300,00011.07

Top buyers

Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)9NZ$1,520,000NZ$168,889NZ$700,000298
Mr R Yiu (Hong Kong)5NZ$980,000NZ$196,000NZ$230,000283
Richardson Racing (Hong Kong)3NZ$925,000NZ$308,333NZ$525,00054
Busuttin / Young Racing (Victoria)6NZ$876,500NZ$146,083NZ$400,0003
Bell Racing (Waikato)3NZ$721,000NZ$240,333NZ$525,000169
Bruce Perry Bloodstock (BAFNZ) (Wellington)3NZ$690,000NZ$230,000NZ$450,000305
Mr GE Harding (Waikato)2NZ$590,000NZ$295,000NZ$320,0002
Phill Cataldo Bloodstock (BAFNZ) (Victoria)6NZ$485,000NZ$80,833NZ$150,00082
Mr V Hui (Hong Kong)1NZ$350,000NZ$350,000NZ$350,000230
Macau Jockey Club (Macau)5NZ$330,000NZ$66,000NZ$90,00076

Top vendors by aggregate

Riversley Park Ltd23NZ$4,107,500NZ$178,587NZ$700,000298
Kilgravin Lodge24NZ$2,136,000NZ$89,000NZ$280,000279
Ohukia Lodge Ltd10NZ$1,635,000NZ$163,500NZ$400,0003
Lilywhites Lodge11NZ$1,083,000NZ$90,250NZ$350,000219
Prima Park15NZ$961,500NZ$64,100NZ$160,00061
Westbury Stud15NZ$886,000NZ$59,067NZ$270,000125
Woburn Farm9NZ$880,000NZ$97,778NZ$155,000146
Lyndhurst Farm2NZ$725,000NZ$362,500NZ$525,000169
Ardsley Stud Limited5NZ$429,000NZ$85,800NZ$160,000184

Top vendors by average (2 or more sold)

Riversley Park23NZ$180,543NZ$4,152,500NZ$700,000298
Ohukia Lodge10NZ$163,500NZ$1,635,000NZ$400,0003
Regal Farm4NZ$106,250NZ$425,000NZ$300,00032
JC Thoroughbreds 4NZ$98,750NZ$395,000NZ$320,000247
Woburn Farm9NZ$97,778NZ$880,000NZ$155,000146
Kilgravin Lodge24NZ$92,958NZ$2,231,000NZ$280,000279
Lilywhites Lodge11NZ$88,455NZ$973,000NZ$350,000219
Ardsley Stud 5NZ$85,800NZ$429,000NZ$160,000184
Phoenix Park6NZ$70,917NZ$425,500NZ$110,000167

Top sires by average (3 or more sold)

Sacred Falls3NZ$256,667NZ$770,000NZ$525,00054
Darci Brahma3NZ$212,500NZ$637,500NZ$350,000219
Per Incanto8NZ$145,938NZ$1,167,500NZ$280,000279
Reliable Man7NZ$113,714NZ$796,000NZ$270,000125

* first-season sire

Top sires by aggregate

Per Incanto8NZ$1,167,500NZ$145,938NZ$280,000279
Reliable Man7NZ$796,000NZ$113,714NZ$270,000125
Sacred Falls3NZ$770,000NZ$256,667NZ$525,00054
Darci Brahma3NZ$637,500NZ$212,500NZ$350,000219
Exceed And Excel1NZ$525,000NZ$525,000NZ$525,000169

* first-season sire

David Ellis