Yearling sales head to Christchurch after "incredible" start

By Michael Guerin

The NZB Standardbred yearling sales head to Christchurch today, after an "incredible" opening day at Karaka yesterday.

The Christchurch Sale of Trotters will start with Lot 139 at 3pm, followed by the pacers tomorrow and Wednesday. In all over 400 yearlings will go under the hammer over the four days of the sales.

Of all the strange things than happened at Karaka on Sunday the strangest was also the most important.

And that was the final result of a remarkable sale that defied all obstacles to produce a record average nobody could have predicted. The first day of sales week started ominously with gale force winds, rain and two giant trees falling at the Karaka sales complex, one onto a stabling block, which luckily was not being used and far from the horses.

From those mayhemic scenes rose a magnificent day for the industry even with the challenges of Covid pods of 100 people, which were hardly tested by the even smaller than expected crowds, some staying away because of storms.

But those who came spent and spent at a level never seen in harness racing before in this part of the world.

When the sales ring finally fell silent after 131 lots the average was close to a staggering $62,000, a remarkable 23 per cent up on last year, which it itself was a record.

While there was still some business to be done on passed in lots for the average to settle in anything like that region is jaw-dropping, with over $6million in horse flesh to have change hands.

“It has been an incredible day,” says NZB Standardbred’s James Jennings.

“We had so many challenges with Covid restrictions and then the weather but in the end the strength of the catalogue shone through.

“We are over the moon and so proud of what everybody has worked together to achieve.

“The final results are something we couldn’t have thought was possible.

Incredibly the median was actually a lot higher than last year’s average, which in itself was a record for an Australasian sale.”

Breckon Farms were the top vendors but there were the usual huge results for Woodlands and Tardina Stud sold the $220,000 first mega lot by Lazarus.

Boutique operation Highfields also had a wonderful sale with five sold lots averaging $81,000 and a top price of $130,000.

While Bettors Delight is still the king there were promising signs for his potential heir apparants in Always Be Miki, Downbytheseaside and Lazarus, albeit with the latter having a small representation. All had colts well into the $100,000 plus range.

But among the fallen trees, divided crowd and huge numbers the story of the day was Stonewall Stud’s $1.3million spending spree and what it could mean for trainers Steve and Amanda Telfer.

Stonewall boss Steve Stockman looked ready for business in the buyer's box and wasn’t beaten on many, paying $260,000 for the top lot 66, the Bettors Delight colt sold by Breckon Farms.

Stonewall also paid the $220,000 for the ground-breaking Lazarus colt and set the tone early with $190,000 for a Captaintreacherous filly sister Its All About Faith.

“Steve (Stockman) has been really excited about the sales in the build-up and we put a lot of work in, through the parades and vet inspections,” said trainer Steve Telfer.

“It is every exciting for all of us and we are taking some wonderful horses home.”

The Dunns, under their Diamond Racing brand, were busy with seven purchases while John Street from Lincoln Farms was one of the few all day to better Stonewall for a big lot, paying $140,000 for lot 37, a Downbytheseaside colt, one of four he signed for.

The sales move to Christchurch for three more days, with a super strong market set and plenty who missed out on Sunday with ammo still left to fire.

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