Waikato Stud takes honours at Karaka
Another Karaka National Yearling Sale has been and gone and for the fourth year running, Matamata’s Waikato Stud has led the way with further outstanding results.
After claiming a first Karaka Premier vendors’ title in 2014, a year after Curraghmore Stud had ended Cambridge Stud’s threedecade tenure of top dog status, Waikato Stud again faced stern opposition from the classy draft offered by Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge operation.
While each went about the annual business of selling their choicest lots to the international buying bench across the two days of the Karaka Premier Sale, no clear picture was emerging as two which of the major studs held the ascendancy.
But when the two days of Premier were done and dusted, Waikato’s 45 lots had realised $8,415,000 versus Cambridge’s 36 for $8,350,000.
With a touch of irony, neither sold the top priced lot. That honour went to the Rutherford family’s boutique North Canterbury operation Beltana, with an $825,000 result for their brother to star Australian sprinter Shamexpress. But at least the sale-topper was a son of Waikato Stud’s former home-bred champion O’Reilly, who died at age 21 in late 2014 and whose final crop went on sale last week at Karaka.
The very last of them to be offered at the National Yearling Sale was in Waikato Stud’s draft for the second tier Select draft. In a one-off cameo appearance, he was led through the ring by O’Reilly’s long-time handler Dave O’Leary, and was knocked down for $200,000 to Roger James, the trainer of one of the stallion’s very best performers, New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever.
Selling horses isn’t only about the best price, and just as it had been for Sir Patrick in 2015 when the last Zabeel yearling went to auction at Karaka, O’Reilly’s last offering was an emotional event for the Chittick family.
‘‘He’s been so responsible for where Waikato Stud stands now in the market,’’ said Mark Chittick as he paid tribute to the champion stallion. ‘‘We’ve been at the stud some 25 years and when we bought the place, as a going concern, he was a foal on the property.
‘‘From that day he was a character and we’ve been through the highs and lows with him. It’s a sad old moment because he was part of the family, he was part of the establishment.’’
Savabeel, who has succeeded O’Reilly as Waikato Stud’s current champion stallion, took top honours amongst local sires with sales totalling more than $11 million at an average price of $220,000 for 52 Premier lots.
On the other side of the Karaka equation was the buyers, and likewise in a similar pattern to the vendors’ table Te Akau’s David Ellis set the pace. For the 12th year he topped the Premier table, signing for 26 lots at a cost of $4,197,500 and adding another four in the Select session for a total spend of more than $4.5 million.
It’s an annual routine for the Te Akau principal but by no means the end of the process and he sets about forming syndicates around his Karaka shopping bag.
Various other Matamata stables were stocking up with quality yearlings too.
The Savabeel filly from former top racemare Daffodil shared equal top price of $600,000 in Waikato Stud’s stellar draft at the Karaka yearling sales.