Yearling sales often throw up surprises but not many as big as the sales topper at Karaka yesterday.

A day that began slowly at the Australasian Classic harness racing sale became more serious before the top lot brought a whopping $220,000 for Woodlands Stud.

The South Auckland powerhouse stud providing the sales topper wasn't the surprise, with many predicting it could be a rare filly from their breed as Lot 89, or Lot 129, a brother to leading filly Spanish Armada.

Both easily broke the $100,000 mark but it was their draftmate who nobody saw coming as the clear star of the day, a Bettors Delight colt from four-win mare Daisy Dundee.


From the family of Courage Under Fire and Cyclone Kate he was typically compact and racy and ended up with almost all the leading Australian buyers chasing him.

In the end it was Victorian owner Jean Feiss, owner of Spanish Armada, who won the war at the $220,000, with the colt almost certain to join the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable.

Vendors Woodlands were thrilled but stunned, with no indication the colt was going to top of the pops.

The late money for him and his draft mates, as well as two huge sales for Breckon Farms lifted the average up to $38,950, just over $5000 down on last year's bumper sale.

There were more lots passed in than many vendors would be comfortable with and for the same reason that have dogged standardbred sales for the past five years.

Buyers are red hot on good colts by the champion stallions, like Bettors Delight and Art Major, but unproven stallions and anything but blueblood fillies struggle.

A prime example were the stock of former speed freak Auckland Reactor, who has had a satisfying start to his stud career with his first crop on the track but hasn't had the numbers yet to provide any great advertising.

His sale was soft and Alabar Stud are realistic about the fact he could do with a smart juvenile or two this season to get buyers keen for his stock next season.

He is not the only one rowing that boat.

There was also an element of yesterday's sale having some of the more commercial mares with yearlings by the lesser favoured stallions, which might be great for the diversification of the overall harness racing gene pool but it rarely ends well on sales' day.

One of the great success stories of the day was the stunning pinhooking job - much rarer in harness racing than galloping - by Breckon Farms.

On his way to the Harness Jewels last year Ken Breckon popped into Karaka and bought Partyon's weanling brother for $44,000, barely 24 hours before big sister won the Jewels.

Yesterday he sold that colt to Emilo and Mary Rosati, from New South Wales, for $187,500, the second-highest price of the day.

Breckon Farms won the select battle for best trotter though, with a Muscle Hill colt out of a half-sister to I Can Doosit going for $125,000.

The sales move to Christchurch for the next two days where vendors with stock by anything but the most commercial sires will be feeling nervous and the Australian presence will be crucial.

Karaka harness sales

• Lots Sold: 102.
• Passed: 40.
• Top price: $220,000.
• Total sales: $3,973,000.
• Average: $38,950 (down more than $5000 on last year).