Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick. Photo: Trish Dunell
This year’s New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale will be the final bow for one Waikato Stud stallion and a debut for another, but Savabeel remains an all-conquering constant.
Savabeel has won the Grosvenor Award (champion New Zealand sire) for five consecutive seasons, as well as the Dewar and Centaine Awards for Australasian and worldwide earnings four times each. He has sired 18 individual Group One winners, of which 14 were sold through Karaka.
The massive demand for Savabeel’s progeny at Karaka has underpinned Waikato Stud’s six-year reign as leading vendors in New Zealand’s yearling ranks.
The champion sire’s 48 yearlings at Karaka 2019 sold for a total of $14.22 million, averaging $296,250 each. Four of them reached the $500,000 mark, headed by the $1.4 million sale-topping colt bought by Te Akau’s David Ellis.
Karaka 2020 promises to be a similar story, with Waikato Stud offering 36 well-bred sons or daughters of Savabeel during the Book 1 session.
“The Savabeels have certainly been the strength of our draft for the last few years, and that’s going to be the case again,” Mark Chittick said.
“But we have a good, strong draft all of the way through. At the end of the day, if you ask four different people to pick a standout yearling in our draft this year, you’ll get four different answers. That’s a great sign for our draft, and I can’t wait to see how they go in the sale ring.”
Waikato Stud’s Savabeel yearlings this year come from some of New Zealand’s finest families. They include full-brothers to Group One winners Costume (Lot 549) and Hasahalo (Lot 635), plus close relatives to other Group One winners such as Sharvasti, I Do, Shogun Lodge, Daffodil, Brambles, Metal Bender, Legs, Guyno, The Jewel, La Diosa, Diademe, Embellish, Sacred Falls and even the great racehorse and sire Galileo.
Meanwhile, Karaka 2020 is the final yearling sale for the outstanding Pins, the sire of 774 winners including 84 at stakes level, headed by Group One stars such as Aerovelocity, El Segundo, Katie Lee, Amibitous Dragon, Legs and Madison County.
Pins died in April 2018 at the age of 21, and Waikato Stud will offer four yearlings from his final crop.
“It’s the end of an era and a bit sad to take the last crop of his yearlings to Karaka this year,” Chittick said. “He was incredible on the racetrack and as a sire, but he was great in the yearling ring as well. If you had the right one with the right pedigree, you could make really good money. But all of his progeny consistently sold well.
“I think that buyers knew that Pins produced horses they could rely on and buy with confidence. We’re definitely going to miss him.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Tivaci is an exciting new addition to the sires’ list. The son of High Chaparral won the Gr.1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) in Sydney and has made a good impression since taking up duties at Waikato Stud.
The first Tivaci yearling to go through the ring, a colt at the Magic Millions Sale on the Gold Coast earlier this month, fetched $240,000.
“There’s been plenty of really good chat around Tivaci,” Chittick said. “He’s got some lovely yearlings heading towards Karaka.
“We’ve been very impressed with his progeny, right from when they were foals. They’re strapping types, and they’ve all got great temperaments and have been fantastic to do anything with. We think he’s a young sire who could be about to make a real impact.
“Other farms who have his progeny have been telling us the same thing. It’s pretty exciting.
“There are three or four Tivaci colts in particular that I’m excited about selling. One of the real standouts is the colt out of Kansas (Lot 9), he’s a cracking yearling, and the colt out of Virginia (Lot 392) is a beauty as well.”
Another major story for Waikato Stud this season has been the form of young stallion Ocean Park, who sits in seventh place on the Australian sires’ premiership.
He was already well proven as a sire of winners, with 126 from 209 starters to date, but now he has the big-race performers – headed by the Gr.1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and A$7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) winner Kolding, and ably backed up by Victorian spring carnival Group winners Oceanex and Tofane.
For Chittick, that success has brought mixed feelings.
“Ocean Park had a huge spring – it all happened for him at exactly the right time,” he said. “He’s a very exciting stallion.
“It’s a bit of a shame that we don’t have more of his yearlings to sell at Karaka this year, but as a breeder, that’s just the way things work out sometimes. It’s still a very positive sign for his future.”
Waikato Stud will offer three Ocean Park yearlings in Book 1.