Lot 301, a Savabeel colt out of multiple Group One winner Katie Lee, was the new top lot of Karaka 2018 at $1.025 million.
In Cambridge Stud’s final Karaka yearling sale with Sir Patrick Hogan at the helm, the world-famous farm fittingly stole the show with two high-priced lots late on the second day of Book 1.
First up was Lot 290, a Savabeel filly out of Joy’s Choice, who fetched $900,000. Just a few minutes later a Savabeel colt out of the multiple Group One winner Katie Lee became the new 2018 sale-topper at $1.025 million.
Both block-buster yearlings were bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis.
Hogan was visibly moved and paid a compliment to the courageous bidding of Ellis, who beat off a strong international challenge on both occasions. Coolmore’s Tom Magnier was the leading underbidder on the filly, while Peter Moody matched Ellis all the way up to $1 million on the Katie Lee colt.
“I have to take my hat off to him, it’s wonderful to see these horses retained in New Zealand,” Hogan said.
“We’ve known it for a long time, but you have to ask again, where would this sale be without the David Ellis factor? He makes a huge effort and has such a strong support base that he has built up over the years.”
Lot 290 comes from an outstanding Cambridge family. Her dam, the stakes-placed Redoute’s Choice mare Joy’s Choice, is a half-sister to the Group One performer La Sizeranne, while other close relatives include Tavago, Lankan Rupee, Grosvenor and Lonhro.
“We’ve seen Te Akau’s success lately with fillies like Melody Belle and Avantage, so it’s logical that David should raise the bar and take this filly home,” Hogan said.
“She had everything – by a champion sire from one of Cambridge Stud’s very best families, a lovely type, great walker, out of a young mare – and she’s going to a top stable where she’ll get every chance.
“I knew she would be one of my leading lots, but of course I wasn’t exactly sure how far the bidding would go. I would have settled for $750,000, so to get to $900,000 was a huge result, very satisfying.”
Ellis was so taken with the filly that he made a significant change to his buying strategy at Karaka.
“I identified this filly at Cambridge Stud a month ago, and I thought it had been at least 10 years since I’d last seen a filly of that quality,” he said.
“But I had no buying order for a filly at that price level, and I couldn’t just come here and buy her on spec.
“I was awake at 3am most nights, thinking about how I could get this filly into our stable. I decided to put together our first fillies’ syndicate, along the same lines as the colts’ syndicates we’ve been doing for a number of years.
“I grew up loving this family, so to have this filly racing in our colours will be a huge thrill.”
The Katie Lee colt took over as the sale-topper from Curraghmore’s Fastnet Rock-Diademe colt, who fetched $1 million earlier in the second day.
“David has fronted up and taken home a superb colt, the best male in my draft, so all I can say is good luck to him,” Hogan said.
When Ellis was assessing the Katie Lee colt, he turned to Te Akau’s stable jockey Opie Bosson for advice. The multiple premiership winner rode the special little grey to her unprecedented New Zealand 2000 Guineas-1000 Guineas double at Riccarton in November 2009.
“Opie knows Katie Lee very well, having ridden her to those Guineas victories,” Ellis said. “He also rode her first foal, a son of Fastnet Rock, when he won a trial by a huge margin. He said that colt was potentially one of the best horses he’d ever ridden, but unfortunately he had a tragic accident.”
Katie Lee’s former co-trainer Debbie Rogerson was a major player in the bidding on the colt this afternoon, entering bids of $600,000, $700,000 and $800,000. It then came down to Moody versus Ellis, with the latter coming out on top.
“The $1.025 million was my last bid,” Ellis admitted. “I got on the wrong foot a little bit, and when the other bidder went to $1 million, I thought I’d just give it one last shot.”