First day of sales a success

By Michael Guerin

Harness racing’s yearling sales got the turbo boost they needed with a dramatic first entry into the industry by New Zealand Bloodstock at Karaka yesterday.

 The National Standardbred Yearling Sale, held for the first time since thoroughbred powerhouse New Zealand Bloodstock opened their standardbred division last year (NZBS) could only be termed a huge success, with a record average for a harness racing sale in this part of the world.

 And with the promise that things are likely to get better.

 Right from parade day on Sunday the sales ground had more hype and confidence than in years and it resulted in 13 yearlings being sold for $100,000 or more, topped by the $190,000 for Lot 18, a Art Major colt from Goodlookinggirl, a half sister to top mare Elle Mac.

 Fittingly on a day when the thoroughbred theme was so strongly in evidence he was purchased by one of New Zealand’s most successful ever galloping trainers in Graeme Rogerson.

 Rogerson became heavily involved in harness racing a decade ago and even finished second on the trainers premiership but that side of his dual-code operation had quietened right down until some recent success.

 But he was aggressive early yesterday in purchasing the top lot and a $120,000 Bettors Delight filly, the latter sold by a group of owners including former Black Caps bowling star Kyle Mills and All Black halfback Ant Strachan.

But Rogerson wasn’t the only one bidding up big early as Lincoln Farms went to $140,000 for a Bettors Delight colt early while later in the sale traditional big names like buyers Jean Feiss, Emilio and Mary Rosati, Mark Purdon and Phil and Glenys Kennard purchased $100,000 or higher lots.

But there was also new blood in Auckland-based owner Ross Dallimore, who spent $320,000 on four lots, including $110,000 for a Mach Three colt and $105,000 for a son of Bettors Delight, all four likely to be trained by John and Josh Dickie.

 While most of the Australian interest was focussed at the middle market, four of the $100,000 plus lots were purchased by Australian-based owners but most are likely to be trained, at least early in their careers, in New Zealand.

 Once the dust had settled on a rapid-fire day of selling the average of $46,750 will have left harness racing regulars stunned, up enormously on the $33,850 average price last year.

 That came as 100 lots were sold for a total of $4,675,000, a clearance rate of 73 per cent that should bump up slightly after post-sale deals but still one NZBS will be keen to see improve.

 NZBS managing director Andrew Seabrook was beaming as he left the sales ground bound for Christchurch, where the next two days of the sales will be held.

“We are thrilled with that as a start for our business in harness racing but also for the industry as a whole,” said Seabrook.

 “We had a great top end and a lot of happy vendors and some plenty of strong interest from Australia, some of which will flow on to Christchurch.

 “But this is also a start for us and we want the sales to get bigger and better.”

 He wasn’t the only New Zealand Bloodstock boss smiling as the company’s supremo Sir Peter Vela was chuffed to pick up a Bettors Delight colt for a bargain $40,000, with the famous Pencarrow colours to be worn by the colt for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

Other highlights were the strong money for top-end trotters, with two topping $100,000, both sold by Breckon Bloodstock, while second season sire Sweet Lou had a big day of the office.

 Both of the heavyweight vendors, Breckon Bloodstock and Woodlands Stud, were enthused by the new dawn of harness racing sales. How the momentum carries to today’s Christchurch sale without their firepower will be interesting.

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