South Island Sale underway online

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Gus Wigley

New Zealand thoroughbred auctions have moved into uncharted territory this week with the launch of New Zealand Bloodstock’s South Island Sale on Gavelhouse Plus. The southern yearling session was originally scheduled to be held in Christchurch in April, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead it is taking place online on the enhanced Gavelhouse Plus platform, running for 11 days from May 28 to June 7 with a 65-lot catalogue.

All unbroken yearlings offered through the 2020 South Island Sale on Gavelhouse Plus are eligible for the Karaka Million Series featuring two $1 million races – the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), in addition to the $100,000 CollinsonForex Karaka Cup (2200m), which graduates can contest for the duration of their career.

For more than one reason, Gus Wigley is watching proceedings with great interest. Not only is he the general manager of Inglewood Stud, which is offering three yearlings, but he is also president of the Canterbury, Marlborough, Westland & Otago branch of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. “It’s obviously disappointing not to have the sale in its original, physical form,” Wigley said. “But New Zealand Bloodstock have put in a lot of time and effort, at first with trying to find a new date for the physical sale and then getting this online version off the ground.

“They’ve done a great job of developing the buying bench and promoting the sale. It’s a strong catalogue, full of good horses and really nice types. It’s great to see so many southern vendors support the sale with good numbers. “The sale went live yesterday, and I’ve already had a number of phone calls from buyers showing genuine interest in our Inglewood yearlings, which is very encouraging.

“The South Island Sale is so important to breeders in our part of the country. At Inglewood we deliberately kept these three yearlings back from Karaka, where they would have been in Book 2, to support the South Island Sale. “When that had to be cancelled, we decided to put our support behind the online version as well. We’ve really thrown the kitchen sink at it – X-rays, reports, photos, videos and all the information buyers might need. We’re looking forward to seeing how it goes.”

The South Island breeding industry has enjoyed another highly successful year, represented by a number of strong performers on both sides of the Tasman. The southern flag flew highest of all in last month’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick. It was won by Etah James, sired by White Robe Lodge stallion Raise the Flag, while runner-up The Chosen One carried the famous colours of breeders and part-owners the Dennis brothers.

“That’s the big reason why we were disappointed not to get a physical sale this year,” Wigley said. “The South Island’s had a massive year, and especially with that amazing result in the Sydney Cup. “Year after year, we keep producing quality horses. We’ve got a reputation for producing sturdy stayers with heaps of stamina, but we’re not restricted to that. We can also produce good sprinters and middle-distance horses as well. “What our horses keep doing on the racetracks, including those that have gone through the South Island Sale, also really shows the great value for money that can be found in the South Island.”

Selling online, rather than in a physical sale ring, requires some adjustment from vendors, but Wigley had already had a taste of what is involved. “When the Sydney Easter Sale took place online last month, we sold one through Lime Country’s draft,” he said. “It gave us a good idea of the information that vendors provide for their horses and how they’re presented. The vendors who put in a lot of effort and provided plenty of information tended to be the ones that got the strong results. “So, at the Breeders’ Association, we’ve really encouraged vendors at this sale to put in that effort to get great photos and video footage and everything that might help buyers make an informed decision.

“Everyone is geared up to do some on-farm parades as well, and now that we’re no longer restricted to groups of 10, it would be great to see some carloads of people go along and attend those. “One thing I have noticed is that the interest we’ve had in the Inglewood yearlings has included some buyers who wouldn’t normally come and attend a physical South Island Sale, so there’s actually potential to access some new buyers. “Phill Cataldo has been down to do some inspections, along with Danny Rolston from NZB. Phill is a highly respected judge and would certainly be able to provide some great insights for any prospective buyers.”

Inglewood’s three yearlings are all by Zacinto, who made an impressive start to his stud career at the Canterbury farm before relocating north to Valachi Downs in 2018. They include a filly out of Point Park, whose dam Seamist won at Group 1 level and is dam or granddam of eight black-type performers. The colt out of Tranquera is closely related to this season’s Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) winner and Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) placegetter Evalina, while Inglewood will also offer a colt out of Muffin Coup, who is a half-sister to the dam of Group 1 winner Markus Maximus. “They’re three lovely horses,” Wigley said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t get them in front of people in a sale ring and show them off, because they’d sell themselves on type.”

Other southern vendors offering yearlings at the sale include Ripple Creek, Cunneen Bloodstock, Pear Tree Farm, Willow Glen, Long Acres Stud, Wickham Park, Clearview Park Stud, Three Valleys, Park Hill Stables, Sheldon Murtha, Hedwood Thoroughbreds Ltd, Mansfield Farm, Kinship Lodge and Beaufort Downs, whilst a number of north island vendors have also supported the sale.

The catalogue features close relatives to the likes of Group 1 winners Melody Belle (a colt by Highly Recommended out of Vannista Belle), The Party Stand (colt by Ghibellines out of Italian Miss), Polar Success (colt by Shocking out of Sapphire Lass), Ferlax (colt by Zacinto out of Suggestions), Surprize Surprize (colt by Pure Champion out of Libby Surprize), Perlin (filly by Showcasing out of Midnight Aliyana), Silent Achiever (colt by Showcasing out of Plenteous), Xcellent (filly by Turn Me Loose out of Xabeel) and Madison County (filly by Road to Rock out of Olden Days).

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