A few months after celebrating a milestone 80th anniversary, time-honoured Little Avondale Stud is set to break new ground in early 2021. Owned and operated by successive generations of the Williams family since 1940, the Masterton nursery has become a mainstay among vendors at the annual National Yearling Sales.
Karaka 2021 will be an extra special edition, featuring the first crop of yearlings by Little Avondale’s new shuttle stallion Time Test. There are eight Time Test yearlings in the catalogue for Book 1, with another 12 set to go through the ring in Book 2. “A new stallion always provides a real thrill for a stud and the local area,” Sam Williams said.
“The feedback about his yearlings has been extremely complimentary, and we couldn’t be happier in the countdown to his first crop going through the ring. “Bruce Perry (bloodstock agent) commented to me that Per Incanto had done an amazing job, but Time Test might be about to take us to a new level. His progeny have a real presence to them, they’re great movers and have a bit of spunk. We’re very lucky to be taking these horses to market.”
Time Test is by the globally influential Dubawi, whose long list of elite progeny include the highly successful former Westbury Stud shuttle stallion Makfi. Time Test’s dam is the Group 1-winning Dansili mare Passage Of Time, who is closely related to Group 1 winners Twice Over and Viadera.
A high-class racetrack performer in his own right, Time Test won six of his 14 starts including the Group 2 Joel Stakes (1600m) and York Stakes (2100m). He also broke a track record with a superb victory in the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes (2000m) at Royal Ascot, and he placed in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes (2000m), Manhattan Handicap (2000m) and Fourstardave Handicap (1600m).
Shuttling to Little Avondale Stud since 2018, Time Test has been well supported with big books of mares, and Williams has been delighted with the resulting foals. “The first thing you worry about with a new stallion is fertility, but he very quickly proved himself there with an introductory book of more than 100 mares in the UK and another big first book at Little Avondale,” Williams said.
“I went up to the northern hemisphere to have a look at his first foals, and I was tickled pink with what I saw. They’re all very similar – they have a very attractive head, plenty of leg and a really good, strong hindquarter. They’ve thrown to the Dubawi side.
“I was even more excited once his first foals arrived in this part of the world. Dean Hawthorne (bloodstock agent), who saw his progeny in the northern hemisphere and also did inspections here for Inglis, made exactly the same comment that I did – Time Test’s southern hemisphere foals are even more physical, athletic types than the northern hemisphere ones. That’s a real feather in the cap for us, and for the syndicate who have supported the stallion.
“Time Test himself excelled between 1400 and 2100m as a three-year-old and older, but I do expect him to leave some precocious two-year-olds. A couple of yearlings in our draft definitely look like they’ll be up and running very early.
“We have to remember that his dam was a Group 1-winning two-year-old, and one of the real drawcards for us with Time Test was the early speed in the family. Our biggest markets are Australia and Hong Kong, so we’ve got to breed to what they’re attracted to. “But we’re also mindful that the New Zealand broodmare band is largely made up of those classic types, and Time Test is suitable for them as well. He was super up to 2100m and broke the 2000m track record at Royal Ascot. He really had an exceptional turn of foot.”
Little Avondale themselves will offer two Time Test yearlings in Book 1 and five in Book 2. Williams made special mention of Lot 370 – a filly out of Group 3 winner Eloa. “She’s probably my favourite filly in the draft,” he said. “Eloa was a special mare, and I think this is the closest foal she’s left to what she was like herself. I definitely won’t be giving her away. She looks like Elle Macpherson and moves like Flo-Jo.”
Meanwhile, Per Incanto’s production line of winners throughout Australasia and Asia is recognised with a significant presence in the top tier of Karaka 2021. The catalogue for Book 1 features 18 sons or daughters of the Street Cry stallion. “Mark Chitty (Haunui Farm) has commented to me that Per Incanto has been the best-value stallion in New Zealand over the last few years,” Williams said.
“He’s done a remarkable job with his mares off a service fee of $5,000, and now we’re starting to see the fruit of that. His three-year-olds this season are his first progeny off a $15,000 service fee. “He’s done amazingly well. He averaged $140,000 at the Ready to Run Sale, he’s leading sire by winners in New Zealand this season – ahead of Savabeel – and in Hong Kong.
“The quality of horse coming through is exceptional. The Group 3-winning filly Miss Aotearoa is hugely talented, while John O’Shea has the unbeaten Lost and Running, who he thinks a lot of. “It’s exciting to see them on the market in Book 1, but I also love watching them out on the track. I get a big thrill every time a new one steps out.”
Little Avondale will also offer a selection of yearlings by other stallions, including champion sire Savabeel. The stud has enjoyed a purple patch with Savabeel yearlings at Karaka in recent seasons, fetching up to $775,000 and selling the likes of stakes winners Addictive Nature, Whimsical and Craftsmanship.
“We’ve had a good run with Savabeel, who’s just an amazing stallion that New Zealand is lucky to have,” Williams said. “We’ve got a nice, athletic filly out of Shandream (Lot 106), who was a high-class horse. Team Hawkes has a brother that they have a very high opinion of. “There’s also a big boy out of Cruz Control (Lot 331), who’s a lovely type as well.
“Two others in our draft that I think are quite special are Lot 8 and Lot 454. Lot 8 is a Per Incanto out of On Yer Feet, who’s a half-sister to Hiflyer. This filly is very, very good physically. She’s a great walker and has a lot of presence about her.
“Lot 454 is a beautiful Pride of Dubai colt from the family of Redoute’s Choice. He’s a stunning individual with a bit of pedigree behind him.”