The New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale carried its record tempo through to the second day at Karaka, highlighted by an $825,000 Snitzel colt purchased by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis.

The average price at the fall of the hammer on the second day was $176,893, significantly higher than what it was last year at the same stage ($154,236), while the overall aggregate stands at $58.9 million, $13.5 million higher than the first two days of 2023.

Leading the way is Ellis, who has spent $4.72 million across 20 yearlings in his bid to be the leading buyer at the sale for a 19th straight year.

Te Akau Racing’s extraordinary reign in the Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) was broken at Ellerslie on Saturday, but Ellis has been on a mission at Karaka this week to return to the top of the podium.

In his eyes, none fit that bill better than a Snitzel colt he secured for $825,000 on Monday afternoon.

Catalogued as Lot 360, the Haunui Farm colt is by champion Australian sire Snitzel and is the first foal out of the Ocean Park mare Rondinella.

A half-sister to Group Two winners Vavasour and Vilanova and three-quarter-sister to the Group Three-winning Celebrity Dream, Rondinella won four races from 1400m to 2100m and placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m), Tancred Stakes (2400m) and Sydney Cup (3200m).

“We’re absolutely over the moon to be able to take a Snitzel colt of that quality home,” Ellis said. “We thought that he was one of the best colts we’ve seen at Karaka in five or six years. Karaka Millions, here we come.

“He’s got beautiful size, balance and looks like he’s got a good temperament. You can see in my book – ‘Real two-year-old type. Karaka Millions winner.’

“There was good competition for him, but there is on all of these good colts. Snitzel is one of the best sires we’ve had in this part of the world in the last 50 years, he’s that good, and this is the sort of money that you have to pay to buy a colt with this quality. We’re thrilled. But I didn’t have a lot left – I was on the ropes!”

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Ellis has previously had Group One success with Snitzel’s progeny, with Sword Of State capturing the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) before embarking on a stallion career at Cambridge Stud. But Ellis believes Monday’s star colt holds more similarities with another former elite performer in those tangerine colours.

“He’s not the same sort of horse as Sword Of State,” Ellis said. “I think he’s more like Darci Brahma, who was champion two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old. He won a Group One in Australia as a two-year-old, and I think this colt is the same. After the Karaka Millions, I could see us turning him out for a week and then getting him ready for the Golden Slipper (1200m). That’s the plan.”

Ellis knows Rondinella’s family well, having bought her half-brother Vilanova for $150,000 at Karaka in 2012. He began his career in New Zealand under the name Catalonia, scoring a three-length Listed win at Te Rapa before finishing fourth in the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) and fifth in the Karaka Million. He later won the Gr.2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield and the Gr.3 Grand Prix (2200m) in Brisbane.

Lot 360 was the ninth purchase on Monday by Ellis, who also got on board with an exciting new venture with his $300,000 purchase of Lot 358 – a colt by Savabeel out of Romantic Time, who is the dam of Group One placegetter Young Werther and the recent Gr.2 Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes (2050m) winner About Time.

“We’ve just bought a nice Savabeel colt for the TAB Racing Club,” Ellis said. “That was a big thrill for us. It’s the first time that the TAB have asked us to buy a horse for them.

“It’s great to see the effort that the TAB and Entain are putting into promoting racing in this country. For somebody that’s been working in this industry for a lifetime, it’s such a thrill to see it being run by an organisation that is putting so much back into it.”

Fond memories of a Group One performer bought from Karaka more than a decade ago flooded back for Victorian bloodstock agent Sheamus Mills when he secured another Savabeel filly from the same sale ring.

Mills went to $650,000 to buy Lot 442 from the draft of Haunui Farm. The brown filly is by Savabeel out of the winning Snitzel mare Stolen Gem, whose only foal to race is the triple Group One placegetter To Catch A Thief.

Sheamus Mills went to $650,000 to secure the Savabeel x Stolen Gem filly from the draft of Haunui Farm. Photo: Trish Dunell

This was one of the first Savabeel fillies Mills has bought from Karaka since 2011, when he paid $80,000 to buy You’re So Good. That purchase price was turned into more than A$300,000 in prize-money, with You’re So Good winning the Listed Alexandra Stakes (1600m) and placing in the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m), Gr.2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) and Gr.3 Vanity Stakes (1400m).

“I remember buying You’re So Good here a number of years ago, and I’ve wanted to buy another Savabeel filly ever since, really,” Mills said. “It’s been a while between drinks and I just hadn’t lobbed on the right horse. But when this filly came out, I had an inkling I’d found her.”

It was finally a case of going one better for Mills, who came close to a couple of the blockbuster lots on Sunday’s opening day of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale.

“We were the underbidder on both of those two top-priced fillies yesterday,” Mills said. “You have to have your breaking point, and we reached ours with those two. So it’s been hard to buy, and I think it’s becoming increasingly hard to buy these well-bred fillies. In the last two or three years, the market for those sorts of horses has really strengthened.

“But we were very happy to buy this filly. She’ll go to Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr in Victoria. We have a good relationship with them and have had a great deal of success, so we’ll keep that partnership rolling.”

But Mills is open to the idea of the filly returning to this side of the Tasman.

“I did think about leaving this filly in New Zealand and getting her trained here,” he said. “I said to the owner that I’d love to have her here for the Karaka Millions next year.

“The boost in racing and all the hype around New Zealand racing at the moment is fantastic. It’s something we got swept up in a little bit. When I saw this filly, instead of thinking Blue Diamond (Gr.1, 1200m), I was thinking about bringing her back for the Karaka Millions. That raceday is potentially going to become a destination event for fillies, even trained overseas.”

YEAR 2024 2023
AGGREGATE $58,905,500 $46,425,000
AVERAGE $176,893 $154,236
MEDIAN $140,000 $135,000
SOLD 333 301