Valachi dispersal takes Karaka Weanling Sale to new heights

9 min read
With Australian buyers present at the Karaka sales complex for the first time since January 2020, New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka Weanling Sale scaled unprecedented heights in its 2022 edition on Friday – headed by a record-breaking price of NZ$360,000 for a Savabeel colt out of Bohemian Lily (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}).

Cover image courtesy of New Zealand Bloodstock

At A Glance

The 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Weanling Sale set new benchmarks across the board with an unprecedented aggregate of NZ$3,486,000, average of NZ$33,200, median of NZ$16,000 and clearance rate of 88 per cent.

These outstanding results were underpinned by a unique offering of 20 well-related weanlings from the dispersal of highly respected operation Valachi Downs. With a 100 per cent clearance rate, that high-quality consignment fetched a total of NZ$1,312,000, averaging NZ$65,600.

The headline act was a blue-blooded colt by Savabeel out of Bohemian Lily (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), which was bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for a record price of NZ$360,000.

Riding a wave of popularity after siring two recent Australian Group 1 winners in his first 3-year-old crop, Westbury Stud stallion Tarzino (NZ) topped the sires’ table with an average price of NZ$116,667.

The leading first-season sire was Waikato Stud’s Caulfield Guineas winner Super Seth, whose three weanlings sold for a total of NZ$131,000 and an average price of NZ$43,667.

Valachi and Ellis make Karaka Weanling Sale history

The late addition of 20 well-related weanlings from the dispersal of Valachi Downs added plenty of pulling power to the catalogue for New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2022 Karaka Weanling Sale, but even those already-raised expectations were blown out of the water when Lot 1005 went through the Karaka sale ring on Friday.

Lot 1005 - Savabeel x Bohemian Lily (NZ) (colt) | Image courtesy of NZB

The son of New Zealand’s all-conquering sire Savabeel was sold to Te Akau Racing Principal David Ellis for NZ$360,000 – the highest price ever paid for a weanling in New Zealand.

The brown colt is out of the G2 The Roses winner Bohemian Lily (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), who is a full sister to the G1 Australian Guineas and Australian Derby winner Shamrocker (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), a full sister to multiple Group 1 placegetter Vernanme (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) and a half-sister to Group 1 winner Rock Diva (NZ) (Lucky Unicorn).

Bohemian Lily herself is the dam of G2 Royal S. placegetter Lily’s Lady (NZ) (Contributer {Ire}).

David Ellis with Joe Walls and Marcus Corban | Image courtesy of NZ Racing Desk

Ellis was keen to make the most of the unique opportunity presented by the dispersal of Kevin and Joanne Hickman’s high-quality bloodstock, and he saw this blue-blooded colt as a clear standout.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to buy from Valachi Downs – these are the best foals that they bred this year, and they’re here for a really genuine sale,” Ellis said.

“It’s very exciting for us to be able to get a colt of this quality. I love the pedigree, and I thought this was a Group 1 colt in the making if I’ve ever seen one. He’ll race in our tangerine colours.

"It’s very exciting for us to be able to get a colt (Lot 1005) of this quality. I love the pedigree, and I thought this was a Group 1 colt in the making if I’ve ever seen one. He’ll race in our tangerine colours." - David Ellis

“We’ve got two Savabeel colts that are now at stud – Noverre at Waikato Stud and Cool Aza Beel at Newhaven – and we’re just thrilled to have purchased another quality son of Savabeel for Te Akau Racing.”

Special purchase for Trillo

The second-highest price of the sale was another member of the Valachi Downs dispersal, Lot 1013 – a filly by U S Navy Flag (USA) out of Honfleur (NZ) (Fastnet Rock), bought by Hughes Bloodstock for NZ$160,000.

Closely related to the Sale-topper, this filly’s dam is a half-sister to Shamrocker, Rock Diva, Vernanme and Bohemian Lily.

Lot 1013 - U S Navy Flag (USA) x Honfleur (NZ) (filly) | Image courtesy of NZB

Fittingly, Hughes Bloodstock bought the filly on behalf of retired horse dentist Vern Trillo, who bred Shamrocker, Rock Diva and Bohemian Lily and teamed up with Kevin Hickman to breed Honfleur and Vernanme.

“She’s out of the family that I’ve been heavily involved with, and I couldn’t let her go,” Trillo said. “She’s a late foal, and the family is always a little bit slower, but she’ll grow into something.

“It’s quite emotional for me to be involved with this dispersal of Kevin’s bloodstock. I’ve had a lot of dealings with him over the years, and all of it’s been done on a handshake – no need for contracts or anything. That’s the type of guy Kevin is.

Vern Trillo | Image courtesy of NZ Racing Desk

“We had the colt by O’Reilly out of Bohemian Blues that was potentially going to be put up for sale, but I said to Kevin, ‘Why don’t we race it together?’ And he thought that was a good idea, and he suggested an arrangement. He said, ‘You name him, and I’ll tell you who the trainer will be.’ And the name he suggested was Vernanme.”

Buyers snap up Valachi Downs dispersal

The high-quality offering from Valachi Downs’ dispersal was enthusiastically received by buyers, with all 20 weanlings selling for an aggregate price of NZ$1,312,000 and an average of NZ$65,600.

With Valachi Downs now in the final stages of dispersing its extensive range of high-quality bloodstock, including 50 broodmares going on sale online on Gavelhouse Plus on Friday night, General Manager Gareth Downey admitted to some mixed feelings.

The Valachi Downs team | Image courtesy of NZ Racing Desk

“This was the last time Valachi Downs sold at a public auction,” he said. “Valachi have been such big supporters of New Zealand, and particularly New Zealand Bloodstock.

“It is very bittersweet, and we would have loved to carry on for many more years. But it felt important to go out on a high note to honour Kevin, and it feels like that is what we have done.

“Our results today were very pleasing. I think we brought a very nice lineup of horses here that were very well-received by the buying bench. They got somewhere between weanling and yearling prices, and it was a yearling-quality draft that came to a weanling sale. They deserved to be appreciated like they were.

“Kevin has such an appreciation for his team, and they have such an appreciation for him. It was inspiring to watch the way the team worked together over those last few days for that last draft, where motivation could have been struggling.”

"Kevin has such an appreciation for his team, and they have such an appreciation for him. It was inspiring to watch the way the team worked together over those last few days for that last draft, where motivation could have been struggling." - Gareth Downey

High-flying Tarzino in demand

The last few weeks have been a very special time for young Westbury Stud stallion Tarzino (NZ), siring his first two Group 1 winners and topping the sires’ standings at Friday’s Karaka Weanling Sale.

Himself the winner of the G1 Victoria Derby and Rosehill Guineas, Tarzino has put his hand up as a potential heir apparent for his late sire Tavistock (NZ), producing the recent G1 South Australian Derby winner Jungle Magnate (NZ) and G1 Queensland Oaks winner Gypsy Goddess (NZ) from his first 3-year-old crop.

That racetrack success has carried over into the sale ring, where his three weanlings in the Karaka Weanling Sale sold for a total of NZ$350,000 and an average price of NZ$116,667.

Tarzino (NZ) | Standing at Westbury Stud

The highest-priced of his progeny was Lot 72, bought by Phill Cataldo Bloodstock for NZ$150,000 from the draft of Highline Thoroughbreds. The filly is out of Nightingale Island (NZ) (Viking Ruler), a half-sister to the Singapore Derby winner and Singapore Horse of the Year Infantry (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}).

“I am rapt with that result,” Highline Thoroughbreds Principal Cam Heron said. “The filly was bought by a good judge.

“New Zealand Bloodstock did a good job of getting people out to the farm, where the filly got some great exposure, and I think Phill has bought a nice filly.”

Lot 72 - Tarzino (NZ) x Nightingale Island (NZ) (filly) | Image courtesy of NZB

Super Seth makes big first impression

The leading first-season sire was Waikato Stud’s exciting newcomer Super Seth, who finished third on the overall sires’ standings with three weanlings selling for a total of NZ$131,000 and an average price of NZ$43,667.

Super Seth’s highest price tag was NZ$85,000, paid by Kilgravin Holdings to secure Lot 5 – a filly out of Vitesse (NZ) (Makfi {GB}), a winning half-sister to the multiple Group 1 winner (The) Bostonian (NZ) (Jimmy Choux {NZ}).

Super Seth arrived at Waikato in 2020 as the first G1 Caulfield Guineas winner to go to stud in New Zealand in three decades. The son of Arrowfield Stud star Dundeel (NZ) served an outstanding book of 143 mares in his debut season.

Super Seth | Standing at Waikato Stud

The other first-season sire to make his mark was the former Valachi Downs shuttler Ten Sovereigns (Ire), the winner of the G1 Middle Park S. and July Cup. His seven weanlings sold for an aggregate of NZ$194,500, averaging NZ$27,768.

New Zealand Bloodstock savours special Sale

The 2022 National Weanling Sale finished with record-breaking results, achieving an aggregate of NZ$3,486,000, an average of NZ$33,200, a median of NZ$16,000 and a clearance rate of 88 per cent.

Those are big increases on last year’s aggregate of NZ$1,820,000, average of NZ$22,195, median of NZ$11,000 and clearance rate of 82 per cent.

The 2020 Sale, which was conducted online, achieved an aggregate of NZ$1,044,051, an average of NZ$17,401, median of NZ$8,250 and clearance rate of 75 per cent.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s Director of Business Development, Mike Kneebone, was delighted with Friday’s spectacular results.

Mike Kneebone

“One of the big positives was that there were a lot of great judges present on the grounds right throughout the week,” he said. “To see them so active in the sale ring is really encouraging.

“It is also positive when you see those good judges, with a nice balance of end-users and pinhookers, bidding on so many horses and in many cases missing out.

“I think that, as strong as the Sale was, people will look back and recognise that there was some really good buying amongst the catalogue, which goes to show what great value Karaka has considering the quality of the horses.

"I think that, as strong as the Sale was, people will look back and recognise that there was some really good buying amongst the catalogue, which goes to show what great value Karaka has considering the quality of the horses." - Mike Kneebone

“We were thrilled to have had such a strong start to the Sale with the Valachi Downs horses. Their stock truly lived up to expectations, which created good momentum throughout the rest of the day.”

Top lots

1005SavabeelBohemian LilyColtValachi DownsMr DC EllisNZ$360000
1013U S Navy FlagHonfleurFillyValachi DownsHughes BloodstockNZ$160,000
72TarzinoNightingale IslandFillyHighline ThoroughbredsPhill Cataldo BloodstockNZ$150,000
73TivaciO'Me O'MyColtCurraghmoreMr DM GoldsburyNZ$125000
25TarzinoCoyote MissColtJamieson ParkLandsdowne ParkNZ$110,000
New Zealand Bloodstock
Karaka Weanling Sale
Savabeel
Te Akau Racing
David Ellis
Tarzino
Valachi Downs
Super Seth
Mike Kneebone