Kilgravin Lodge scales new heights at Ready to Run Sale

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  • November 27, 2023
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A respected vendor at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale throughout the last two decades, Kilgravin Lodge broke new ground at Karaka on Wednesday with the two highest prices in their history.

Coming into the 2023 edition of the Ready to Run Sale, the Matamata operation’s all-time record price was $550,000 for a Hellbent colt at last year’s sale. But that was blown out of the water on Wednesday by the two highest prices on the opening day of the sale – $800,000 and $725,000.

“We sold a Hellbent for more than $500,000 last year, but this far surpasses that,” Eion Kemp said. “They’re the highest prices we’ve ever had. It comes down to a team effort between our agents, vets, farriers and staff at home. It’s just a big team effort across the board.”

The first of Wednesday’s landmark lots was Lot 45, a Written Tycoon colt that was knocked down to Blandford Bloodstock and Andrew Williams Bloodstock for $725,000.

Kilgravin paid A$90,000 to buy the colt as a yearling, teaming up with McKeever Bloodstock to secure him in Melbourne in March of this year.

“Turning $90,000 into that sort of price is very hard to do, and we’re just stoked,” Kemp said. “It’s a huge relief and we’re really excited about what we got for the horse.

“We started working with Johnny McKeever through COVID and had some good results buying weanlings with him. We’ve developed that relationship into a little bit more buying of Ready to Run horses too, and it’s worked out really well.”

Breeze-up sales have been a proven source of racetrack success for Blandford Bloodstock’s Stuart Boman, who bought multiple Group One winner and A$10 million earner Zaaki from a horses-in-training sale in the UK in 2020. Zaaki was bought for clients of trainer Annabel Neasham, who will also train Wednesday’s new recruit.

“Obviously I am very strongly connected to Annabel, and this colt is going to be trained by her too,” Boman said. “We’re excited about him joining her stable. We’ve had great success together and it’s a team and a system that I know very well.

“I just messaged her saying we’ve bought the horse. I’ve booked (the horse) a flight to Australia and asked if she wants the horse to go straight into work, so we’ll find out.

“We can feel with this horse, from the descriptions from Andy (Wiliams) and our observations, and as a lot of the Written Tycoons can be, he’s probably going to be more of a three-year-old type, but we’d be hopeful he’d be up and running in the autumn.

“It’s a cringeworthy thing, but one of the factors for stretching on the horse like we did was that if this horse does go all right, we could have a stallion on our hands.

“The confidence we’ve got in the processes we’ve got, we felt it was justified. Like everything else, when you’re buying a horse, you’re backing your judgment and the risk-reward, the pay-off is potentially very big, so it’s worth taking the risk.”

Just a couple of hours later, Kilgravin’s record was broken again when a Harry Angel colt went through the ring as Lot 143. He was bought for $800,000 by Tartan Meadow Bloodstock and Andrew Williams Bloodstock.

“I bought him for a prominent Hong Kong owner who’s bought some expensive horses here in the past, but probably more yearling sales rather than breeze-up,” Tartan Meadow Bloodstock’s Paul Chow said.

“My client liked this horse a lot and really wanted to get him. I was on the phone with him. We knew it wasn’t going to be cheap at all, and we just decided as we went along.

“I think this horse is very well put together, well balanced and correct. He’s athletic enough as well, so there wasn’t much to fault him. His breeze-up was good and he vetted well.

“He’s got size and weight, which is important too, and he’s from the family that produced Fifty Fifty – a proven family in Hong Kong.

“He’ll stay in New Zealand to finish his education. He can mature and grow, strengthen a little bit, and then he will more than likely end up in Hong Kong if he measures up.”

The Harry Angel colt headlined a remarkably strong opening day of the Ready to Run Sale, which saw no fewer than seven horses break the $500,000 barrier.

“The market has been strong,” Chow said. “A lot of buyers have come from Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association organised a group to come out here. More buyers means more competition, and the top end in particular has been very competitive.

“Part of the attraction is the success that horses from this sale have had in Hong Kong.” – NZ Racing Desk

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