Ready to Run Sale a Happy Hunting Ground for Top Judges

This month marks New Zealand Bloodstock’s Ready to Run Sale of Two-Year-Olds - a gold mine of thoroughbred talent and highlight event on the calendars of leading trainers, bloodstock agents and syndicators across the globe.

Phill Cataldo

Bloodstock Agent Phill Cataldo
Bloodstock Agent Phill Cataldo Picture: Trish Dunell

With more than 20 individual Group One winners to his name, respected bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo has a track record to match his reputation as a leading judge of horseflesh.

He has sourced two Group One New Zealand Derby winners from the Ready to Run Sale – Military Move (NZ) (Volksraad), who he secured for $110,000 at the 2008 Sale on behalf of Hong Kong clients, and Vin De Dance (NZ) (Roc de Cambes), who cost him just $70,000 eight years later.

Another of his Ready to Run Sale successes is She's Poppy (NZ) (Alamosa), who cost $40,000 at the 2013 Sale and earned $220,000 in a career headed by a Group Three victory at Awapuni in September of last year.

"I have fond memories of buying Vin De Dance from the Ready to Run Sale, and also being involved in the purchase of Military Move," Cataldo said.

"I also had some indirect involvement with Gingernuts, who I had bought as a weanling. He was on-sold to Te Akau at the Ready to Run Sale and went on to do some great things. So it's been a good Sale for me.

"But it's a great Sale in general, and the results speak for themselves – a very high percentage of stakes winners and Group One winners have come out of this Sale, compared to other Sales of the same kind.

"If buyers are wanting potential Derby, Oaks and Cup winners, the Ready to Run Sale is proven to be a great place to look.

"From what I've seen so far, the line-up and catalogue for this year's Sale are highly impressive. It won't be surprising to see these horses go on to achieve similar results."

David Ellis

Te Akau Racing's David Ellis (left) and Jamie Richards during day one at Karaka
Te Akau Racing's David Ellis (left) and Jamie Richards during day one at Karaka Picture: New Zealand Bloodstock

As principal of New Zealand's syndication giant Te Akau Racing, David Ellis has celebrated countless successes over the last two decades.

Many of his star performers are secured from Karaka, where he has been a perennial leading buyer at the National Yearling Sales Series purchasing the likes of multiple Group One winners Darci Brahma (NZ) (Danehill), King's Chapel (NZ) (King of Kings), Xtravagant (NZ) (Pentire) and reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands).

Ellis has also become a major player at the Ready to Run Sale in recent seasons, with remarkable results.

He purchased Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj) for $42,500 from the 2015 Ready to Run Sale, who went on to win the Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m), Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Windsor Park Plate (1600m) earning more than $1.2 million in prizemoney.

His $230,000 purchase Hall of Fame (NZ) (Savabeel) won the Group One Levin Classic (1600m) and was later sold to Hong Kong. While rising star Te Akau Shark (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) cost $230,000 and has already earned more than $850,000 in a 10-start career that features multiple Group victories and a tremendous third in the A$5 million Group One Cox Plate (2040m).

Other horses purchased by Ellis at the Ready to Run Sale include Group Two placegetters Luminous (NZ) (Reliable Man) and Shezathinka (NZ) (So You Think), along with New Zealand Derby placegetter Mongolianconqueror (NZ) (Ocean Park) and the Singapore Polytrack Horse of the Year Flying Fulton (Flying Spur).

For Ellis, it was the outstanding record of Ready to Run Sale graduates in the last decade that attracted him to the buying bench.

"Four or five years ago, I did quite a lot of research on the various Breeze Up Sales held in this part of the world," he said.

"It quickly became obvious to me that New Zealand Bloodstock's Ready to Run Sale was punching well above its weight. It's extraordinary, the amount of success its graduates have had compared to other two-year-old Sales.

"So we went there in 2015 and bought two horses. One of them was Gingernuts, who won three Group One races including the Derby, as well as the Group Two Avondale Guineas (2100m). The other one was Hall of Fame, who won the Group One Levin Classic.

"The following year we went again and bought Te Akau Shark. Now I'm looking forward to watching our horses from last year's Sale, who are all showing a lot of ability.

"Along with the National Yearling Sales Series, this Sale has certainly become a regular stop on our calendar. It's a great Sale, and we'll always go there intending to buy at least two, three or four horses.

"It's a great opportunity for vendors, especially if their horses are a bit later-maturing.

Ellis is eager to return to Karaka for the 2019 Ready to Run Sale.

"I think it could be the strongest catalogue we've seen for this Sale," he said. "There are a number of beautiful pedigrees.

"I'm now in the process of going through the Breeze Ups, and quite a few have taken my eye. I'll spend the next few weeks selecting which ones we want to buy."

Trent Busuttin

Trainers - TRENT BUSUTTIN and NATALIE YOUNG Picture: Darryl Sherer

The Sale also holds a special place in the heart of Kiwi trainer Trent Busuttin, who was based in Cambridge before he and partner Natalie Young relocated to Cranbourne in Victoria three years ago.

At the 2010 Sale, Busuttin paid $19,000 for a Savabeel gelding. Named Sangster (NZ), that gelding put his trainer on the map on both sides of the Tasman with Group One victories in the Victoria Derby (2500m), International Stakes (2000m) and Auckland Cup (3200m), earning more than $1.6 million in stakes.

Busuttin has bought successfully at the Ready to Run Sale ever since, most recently with the $160,000 purchase The Holy One (NZ) (Tavistock), who has won three of his five starts so far and A$175,000 in prizemoney, including a last-start victory in the Group Two Stutt Stakes (1600m).

"We've had a lot of success at the Ready to Run Sale over the years," Busuttin said.

"Sangster is the obvious one, but the Sale also gave us our very first Group winner with a horse called Barside (NZ) (Tobougg). He was an unfashionably bred horse who did a great job for us and won a Group Two Wellington Guineas (1500m) before we sold him to Hong Kong for good money.

"Another one is Atmosphere (NZ) (Savabeel), who won the UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington and placed in the Group Two Moonee Valley Vase (2040m). Then we sold him to Hong Kong, where he ran second to Werther (NZ) (Tavistock) in the Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

"That's just a couple of them, but we've found a lot of really nice horses at the Ready to Run Sale. We've always been big fans of it. It's a fantastic Sale, a great concept, and the vendors do a really good job of preparing the horses.

"When it comes to Breeze Up Sales, we think New Zealand Bloodstock do it better than any of the others.

"We'll be back again this year and supporting the Sale heavily, as we like to do every year."

Bill Mitchell

Leading Sydney trainer turned bloodstock agent Bill Mitchell has been a regular visitor to these shores for the Ready to Run Sale.

At the 2015 Sale, he picked out the Hinchinbrook gelding Beat The Clock. Bought for $200,000, the gelding has won eight races to date and earned more than HK$34.9 million (NZ$6.93 million).

Beat The Clock is among Hong Kong's elite sprinters, winning the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) and Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) along with five other Group One placings.

"I've bought some nice horses there over the years, and he'd be the best of them," Mitchell said.

"I've always been a fan of Hinchinbrook, and at around the time of that Sale, he was just starting to get rolling in his stud career.

"I possibly should have bought Beat The Clock as a yearling, but I was really taken by how well he developed from a yearling to his Breeze Up. He was very athletic and stretched out nicely in his Breeze Up.

"I think the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale rates highly as far as Breeze Up Sales in this part of the world are concerned. It's got a good reputation, and deservedly so.

"Most of the horses that go through the ring in that Sale have been bought or prepared specifically for that purpose, rather than being cast-off yearlings or horses who didn't sell as yearlings. They've been broken in and prepared with the Breeze Ups specifically in mind.

"It's a Sale that's really gathered momentum over a long period of time. People have come to realise that the horses have been prepared by vendors who specialise in preparing horses for this type of Sale."

A proven source of Group One success

The Ready to Run Sale has been a stepping-stone to Group One glory for many other buyers.

Steven Cole paid $65,000 at the 2014 Sale to buy Dukedom (NZ) (Bachelor Duke), who earned more than $160,000 headed by Cole's first career Group One training success in the Levin Classic (1600m). He was later sold to Hong Kong.

At the 2013 Sale, Todd Hartley signed for the $52,500 purchase of Turn Me Loose (NZ) (Iffraaj). Raced by Hartley in partnership with Lindsay de Souza, Doug Painter, Paul Vawdrey, Jim Lark, Scott Brown and Jim Robertson, Turn Me Loose won seven races and $1.7 million. He scored Group One victories in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Emirates Stakes (1600m) and Futurity Stakes (1400m). He now stands at Windsor Park Stud.

Hall of Fame trainer Graeme Rogerson has sourced more than half a dozen black-type performers from the Ready to Run Sale in the last 20 years. He paid $275,000 in 2008 to buy Linton (Galileo), who earned more than A$2 million headed by the Group One Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).

Nine years earlier, he bought Century Kid (NZ) (Centaine) for $40,000. He won 10 races and more than A$1.3 million, winning the Group Two Premiere Stakes (1200m), QTC Cup (1200m) and TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and placing in the Group One Galaxy Handicap (1100m).

Other Group One stars sourced from the Ready to Run Sale in recent years include Gaultier (NZ) (Rios), Atlante (Fastnet Rock), Albany Reunion (Fastnet Rock), Nashville (NZ) (Darci Brahma), Glorious Days (Hussonet) and Shootoff (NZ) (Duelled).

The 2019 edition of the Ready to Run Sale will be held at Karaka on 20 and 21 November, with another high-quality catalogue of 414 two-year-olds to go under the hammer.

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