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Purchased by Queenslander Dick Karreman in 2002, the nursery has been a regular and successful vendor at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale before taking time out last year, mainly due to the trying COVID-19 circumstances. Its return to the March 7-9 auction signals The Oaks Stud’s intent going forward and larger drafts into the future.
“We didn’t sell anything last year when I took the view that it was going to be a tough sale and I was right about that. We decided to do it another way and, to be honest, we have had a lot of luck selling out of trials,” Williams said.
“The tried horse market is just so strong at the moment. If you are prepared to take the risk the rewards can be very high, it’s obviously a higher risk strategy than selling them as yearlings, but we were happy with the approach we took.”
The Oaks Stud has unfortunately been forced to withdraw Lot 34, a first crop representative of Frankel’s multiple Group-winning son Eminent, but Williams is lavish in his praise for his sale ring-bound youngsters. “We’ve got three stunners and if I knew they were going to put the sale back I would have put in a few more. We will be back selling most of our yearlings in 2023,” he said.
First cab off the rank will be Lot 474, a colt from the final crop of the sadly missed Tavistock and the Darci Brahma mare Outshine. She was successful on four occasions and finished runner-up in the Canterbury Belle Stakes-L and both of her foals to race have been winners.
“He is a lovely type and his half-brother Lord Ardmore has been successful for Chris Waller since the catalogue went to print and ran third in $250,000 The Wave at the Gold Coast. It’s a very current family and he is a typical Tavistock and his progeny are doing nothing but winning all around the place.”
Lord Ardmore, by Reliable Man, was also fourth in both the New Zealand 2000 Guineas-G1 and the Avondale Guineas-G2 before relocating from the stable of the now retired Stephen McKee to Waller. His older brother Resolute Lad has also won from a handful of starts for trainer Peter Gelagotis.
“I do really like what the mare is leaving, in terms of type, and Lord Ardmore could be a Group horse in another campaign,” Williams said. “Our colt is a terrific type and I’d expect him to be pretty popular.”
The second dam Upstaged is by Sadler’s Wells’ son In The Wings and she was an Australian stakes winner and placed in both the Avondale Gold Cup-G1 and the Doomben Roses-G3. Last year’s Frances Tressady Stakes-G3 winner Chaillot is also from this family.
Lot 530 is a representative of the first Southern Hemisphere crop of American Triple Crown winner Justify and Williams is tipping widespread interest in his colt. The youngster is the first foal of the winning Darci Brahma mare Repeat.
“He really is hard to fault and is just a stunning colt from a family that has come early and been very good to us. Physically, he is very, very imposing and probably my top colt,” Williams said. “He could be a two year-old the way he is built. His conformation is perfect, he’s got a lot of strength and is not unlike his sire.”
His dam is a sister to The Oaks’ Levin Classic-G1 and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes-G1 winner Recite, who jointly topped the New Zealand 2YO Free Handicap. They are out of the Eclipse Stakes-G3 and Diamond Stakes-G1 runner-up Chant, the champion juvenile filly of her year.
The last member of the Karaka offering is Lot 589, a son of So You Think and the well-performed Traditionally mare Smoulder. The youngster is a half-brother to a pair of winners, including the stakes performer Embers.
“He is a beautiful type, a bigger horse and terrifically impressive. He’s got a great walk and is very like So You Think. All three have thrown to their sires and they are lovely horses and I will be very disappointed if they all don’t find good homes at good prices.”
The So You Think colt’s dam won the Eight Carat Classic-G2, the Great Northern Foal Stakes-Listed and finished second in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes-G1. She is out of the Ottawa Stakes-Listed winner Flying Firebird while the third dam Ardee One claimed an edition of the Railway Handicap-G1.
The Oaks is also blessed with an array of young talent among its sizeable racing stable. “We didn’t hit the straps with a few horses like Catalyst and Kali with different injuries, but we are building a team now that we are excited about. We’ve certainly got some very promising gallopers,” Williams said.
Catalyst has won six of his 10 starts in The Oaks’ colours, including the New Zealand 2000 Guineas-G1 and the Mr Tiz Trophy-G3. He was also narrowly beaten by subsequent Australian Guineas-G1 winner Alligator Blood in the CH Hayes Stakes-G3, but has been plagued by subsequent injuries.
“He has unfortunately had another setback with a chip on his fetlock. We will take it out and give him another spell and try again in the spring,” Williams said. “That would be the last hurrah, he’s a massive talent and hopefully we can find another superstar among the current bunch.
“We’ve got about 20 in work, which is very high for us, and by February-March we might have 30 before we cut back a bit as we work through them. It is a very young team and hardly any older horses among them.”
The Oaks was home this year to stallions Darci Brahma, US Navy Flag, Encosta De Lago’s Group-winning son Niagara and Roc De Cambes, sire of Group 1 winners Vin De Dance and He’s Our Rokki and the quartet all drew strong support again last season. “Darci Brahma had his biggest ever book for seven or eight years,
he served 125 mares. US Navy Flag also had a good book and we supported him and obviously Darci,” Williams said.
“We’ve sent some nice mares to Almanzor and Hello Youmzain. We’re very happy with what we have on the ground and in terms of pregnancies so the next three years will be very exciting for The Oaks, with a little luck.”