The team at Waikato Stud is gearing up for an exciting few weeks, both on the racetrack and in the sale ring.
The familiar white, blue and green colours of the Waikato Stud racing team are set to feature prominently in two brand-new $350,000 races, starting at Trentham on Saturday, while a typically deep draft of 82 yearlings will represent the internationally renowned nursery during Book 1 of Karaka 2024 from January 28 to 30.
The exciting summer period kicks off on Wellington Cup Day with the inaugural running of the $350,000 The Oaks Stud Remutaka Classic (2100m). One of eight lucrative new races added to the New Zealand calendar this season with the increased funding that came from the TAB-Entain strategic partnership, the race is restricted to horses with no more than one win to their name before midnight on July 31 last year.
Waikato Stud’s Nereus is a $3.60 favourite for the Remutaka Classic. The four-year-old Savabeel gelding is a full-brother to multiple Group One winner Savvy Coup and has had five starts to date for three wins and two placings.
Trained by Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray, Nereus heads into Saturday’s race on the back of a dominant victory over the same distance at Hastings on New Year’s Eve.
In another three weeks’ time, Waikato Stud will likely be represented by Certainly in the inaugural $350,000 Sir Patrick Hogan Karapiro Classic (1600m) at Te Rapa on February 10. That race is restricted to horses that were maidens on July 31, and Certainly will bring Group One form into the race after her big finish from last for a close sixth in last Saturday’s Levin Classic (1600m).
“It’s very exciting to have a live chance in that new initiative race at Trentham this weekend,” Waikato Stud’s Mark Chittick said. “Nereus is a promising horse and it’s great to be involved. We’re hoping he’ll run well.
“After that, we’ve got Certainly potentially going to the next of those new races at Te Rapa. These are exciting races to be able to target with horses that are on their way through the grades, and it just shows the effect that Entain is having on our industry.”
In between those two $350,000 races, Waikato Stud will consign its class of 2024 during the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales at Karaka.
Chittick is upbeat in the lead-up to the sale, buoyed by strong results with the stud’s boutique draft on the Gold Coast earlier this month. Waikato Stud offered eight yearlings in that sale, selling seven of them for a total of A$2.41 million and an average price of A$344,286.
Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis secured two Savabeel yearlings for A$400,000 and A$375,000, while the stud’s yearlings by exciting young sire Super Seth fetched A$470,000, A$360,000 and A$225,000.
“Our horses were really well received over on the Gold Coast, which was very pleasing,” Chittick said. “The sires that we stand all sold very well. It was a really encouraging result and has given us a bit of momentum leading into Karaka.
“Once again we’re selling quite a large draft at Karaka this year, and it’s good to have a broad mixture of horses for buyers to choose from. There are obviously some really nice horses there, and a good representation for all of our sires that have progeny old enough.
“We’ve been through our whole draft with people who have come to have a look at them, and it’s left me thinking I’m much happier to be in the position of breeding and selling these horses rather than choosing which ones to buy. I’d hate to have the job of going through them all and picking out one horse that’s going to win a Group One, and from our point of view, that’s a good way for it to be.”
Waikato Stud will sell 20 yearlings by their super-sire Savabeel, along with 21 by Super Seth, who has sired two early winners in his first crop of two-year-olds including the Group Two-placed Poetic Champion.
“There’s always huge demand for Savabeel, but I’ve been really encouraged by the interest in Super Seth,” Chittick said. “When we were over in Australia, all the trainers there who have them in their stable were telling us how rapt they are with them. They’re good movers and great to work with. The buyers certainly chased them on the Gold Coast, and we’re hoping for more of the same at Karaka.