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‘One of the most outstanding types I’ve seen’ – confidence in Wootton Bassett crackles at Karaka

John Camilleri-bred filly by Coolmore shuttler sells for NZ$800,000 on final Book 1 day of NZB sale


Agent Damon Gabbedy’s 15 years of experience in Europe instils huge confidence that proven northern hemisphere sire Wootton Bassett can transfer his potency down under.

As New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Book 1 National Yearling Sale came to a close on Tuesday – with almost NZ$80 million (£38.6m/€45.2m) traded across three days, and the most since 2018 for the main offering – the Belmont Bloodstock principal gave his considered opinion on Wootton Bassett after purchasing a beautifully bred daughter for NZ$800,000, the highest price on the final day of Book 1.

Gabbedy held off fellow agent Andrew Williams and the might of Coolmore’s Tom Magnier to secure the John Camilleri-bred filly on behalf of a new Hong Kong client.

Gabbedy described the Curraghmore-consigned daughter of Coolmore shuttler Wootton Bassett, who is a half-sister to Saturday’s Concorde Handicap-placed Petrucci, as a “beautiful filly from a proper pedigree”.

She is out of Camilleri’s Via Napoli, a sister to Listed winner California Turbo and a half-sister to Group 3 scorer Florentina and Perth Group 1 winner Gathering.

Florentina is the dam of three-time US Grade 1 winner In Italian and the Sydney stakes-placed two-year-old Villa Carlotta.

“I go to France with my role with Arqana every year, so I’ve seen a lot of good Wootton Bassetts, and this is one of the most outstanding types I’ve seen,” said Gabbedy, who has been the Australia and New Zealand representative for Arqana since 2008.

“And I think the pedigree speaks for itself. She’s closely related to a champion, In Italian, and from a proper pedigree with good depth.

“She’s from a great breeder, John Camilleri, and raised at Segenhoe, so hopefully we’ll have a bit of luck with her.”

While Wootton Bassett’s first southern hemisphere-bred crop of yearlings are going through the ring this year, the rags-to-riches rise of the stallion has been in full force in the northern hemisphere.

Despite humble beginnings at Haras d’Etreham in France, he has now sired nine individual Group 1 winners, including shuttle sires Wooded and Almanzor, the latter among his first crop of just 23 foals. That success prompted Coolmore to acquire him privately, at considerable cost, in 2020.

Gabbedy said: “He’s a proven stallion already, so I think he’s a no-brainer. He’s a champion stallion, and I reckon he’ll do the same down here as he’s done in the northern hemisphere, for sure.”

The filly will be left to grow out in New Zealand before a decision is made on who will train her in Australia.

NZB sold 25 more horses in Book 1 this year, pushing the aggregate to NZ$79,585,500, up 14 per cent on the NZ$70.063m traded in 2023, while the average was up 11 per cent at NZ$168,257.

The median of NZ$120,000, however, was down NZ$10,000 year-on-year, indicating buyers’ thirst for quality. The clearance rate closed at 78 per cent.

NZB managing director Andrew Seabrook in the lead up to Sunday’s Book 1 session put on the record he was confident that the company could exceed the figures produced in 2023, the first post-pandemic Karaka sale.

All three key buying regions – Australia, Hong Kong and the domestic New Zealand investors – all increased their respective spends year-on-year, which contributed to the Book 1 results.

Seabrook said: “At the start of the week I would have taken the results and run. Australian spend was up NZ$7 million on last year – and remember they were up NZ$9 million on the previous year – so right across the board the strength of the Australians, from the country trainers to the metropolitans, was strong, so that was wonderful to see.

“The New Zealand spend was also up NZ$2 million. It was just a really great, positive week . . . with everyone talking about the positive racing scene here.”

While there were some big results across the three days, some vendors found the middle to lower end of the market challenging to get horses sold, although that trend was also evident at the recent Magic Millions sale and could very well be the case at upcoming east coast Australian yearling sales.