A record $700,000 price reached for a 2-year-old colt at Karaka's Ready to Run Sale this week has delighted the bloodstock industry, which has been fearful Covid-19 would affect sale prices.
The colt was bought by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis, the biggest buyer at Karaka in the past 15 years. In total, Ellis spent $1.52 million on nine horses. Two Hong Kong buyers spent $525,000 each on two horses, bought using an online bidding process.
Andrew Seabrook, managing director of New Zealand Bloodstock, said his team was nervous heading into the sale without international buyers on the ground but online bidding using a newly developed system had been better than expected.
"We've always relied on international buyers coming to Karaka, having a great time here and buying the horses. There was genuine concern that with the borders closed we would not be able to achieve the results but it was amazing," he said.
"We had buyers from all around the world bidding and buying online."
The $700,000 sale was a record for a two-year-old horse in New Zealand, above the previous record of $650,000 achieved three years ago.
Online sales contributed to 35 per cent of the $18m turnover. The majority of offshore sales were from Australia and Hong Kong, with buyers from Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and China also bidding.
Although the total turnover was less than previous years, fewer horses were offered for sale which Seabrook puts down to a lack of confidence in the market due to Covid-19.
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However the average sale of $95,000 per horse was up from last year's average of $92,000, Seabrook said.
"Most of the bloodstock sales in the world this year have gone down, so to increase has been quite remarkable."
Seabrook expects online sales to play a major part at the yearling sales in January which have a turnover of $80m.
"Now that people can bid from anywhere in the world I think it's the way forward. It's opened a new market for us really. We got buyers coming out of the woodwork who we had never engaged with before."
Flying to New Zealand was time-consuming and expensive for buyers further afield than Australia.
"I think it [online sales] will only grow."