Many factors at play at annual NZB Yearling Sales

By Michael Guerin

A strong but steady sale would appear to be a pass mark for Australasia’s most elite yearling sale at Karaka on Sunday.

The northern sale as usual kicks off four days for New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred, with three to follow at Christchurch with just under 400 horses to go under the hammer.

The key indicators for sales week are strong: very strong catalogues, good Australian interest, many of the key domestic buyers from recent seasons still likely to buy and a good crop of young trainers coming through, hopefully bringing a younger owner base with them.

But as recent thoroughbred sales have shown some of the post-Covid economic challenges are starting to bite, most importantly the enormous rise in interest rates that may see casual buyers think twice about buying a yearling with money that they could have taken out of the mortgage and only paid around 2 per cent interest this time last year but now comes as a higher cost.

Those sort of factors have seen recent thoroughbred sales still strong at the top end, where those who don’t worry about things like interest rates shop, but a softening in the middle and lower markets, especially domestically where racing faces some challenges.

After several years of the sales averages increasing, often by huge numbers, to well over $50,000 at Karaka, even being able to hold that level would be a win on Sunday.

“We have a great catalogue, no doubts about that,” says NZBS’s Cam Bray.

“But there has been some softening at recent sales in the thoroughbred code and it wouldn’t surprise anybody to see that happen in harness racing as well.

“I think Sunday’s sale will stand up very well because it is so stacked and the top end will be strong but if we could achieve the same results as last year that would be huge.”

Having Australian buyers on the grounds will help, with that emotion usually likely to lead to one extra bid, with Bray also saying some Aussie now feel comfortable to stay home and bid online after getting used to that during the Covid-restricted travel era.

There are bound to be slow patches at times over the four days of sales but Karaka will barely have time for them as with 128 yearlings catalogued (three withdrawn) it has incredible depth.

With the Harness Million at Cambridge on Friday and a big day of inspections on Saturday as well as the Hotel now on the sales grounds at Karaka, there should be a captive audience right from the first lot at noon, which is not always the case at sales.

They will have some proper targets too, with the sale very strong early and again late, with lot 123 being the Bettor's Delight half-brother to King Of Swing, so the sale sets up nicely to be strong from start to finish.

The TV preview show for the sale will be live online from 11.30am while SENZ’s Trots Talk radio show will broadcast from Karaka from 11am to 1pm.

To bid online and view the sale, click here  

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