HONGKONG buyers were conspicuous at last week's important Karaka Premier Yearling Sale in New Zealand. They helped boost the Auckland sale over the $72 million aggregate, an 11 per cent increase on last year. The overall average was $196,000 compared to $166,000 the previous year, a rise of 17 per cent. The biggest buyer at the sale, which attracted all the big names from Australia, was bloodstock agent Rob McAnuity who bought 10 lots for $4.5million for his Hongkong clients. McAnuity's purchases included the top price at the sale, a strapping colt by champion sire Sir Tristram from wonderful broodmare Taiona - dam of Derby winner Sovereign Red and Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Gurner's Lane. He paid $1.3 million for the colt who is Taiona's last foal. Other big spending Asians included the Penang-based Teh Choon Beng (11 lots for $3.6 million), agent Michael Otto acting for the Japanese ($3.3 million) and agent Paul Moroney, also acting for Japanese interest ($2.9 million). A couple of days later Hongkong-based trainer Ivan Allan extended his ''Down Under'' interests at the Karaka Anniversary Yearling Sale. Allan, the former leading Singapore trainer, was the top buyer with nine yearlings for a total of $860,000. Allan has every encouragement to be spending up in New Zealand as his 1991 New Zealand purchase, a three-year-old named McBrave, is now one of the hot chances for the $1.8 million Group One Cadbury Australian Guineas (1,600 metres) at Flemington on February 14. McBrave, a lightly-raced son of McGinty, is trained by leading horseman David Hayes who has a number of horses in his stable under Allan's name. Hayes always had a high opinion of McBrave but, until now, mainly due to track conditions, the colt had not quite lived up to expectations. But he did last Saturday at Flemington, beating Victoria Derby winner Redding in great style in the listed The Debonair (1,400 metres), a traditional Guineas lead-up race. McBrave, relishing the rock hard track, raced on the pace until the turn, then kicked clear at the 300 metres. He did well to withstand a strong finish from Redding who looks to have come back in great form. Champion sprinter Schillaci was surprisingly beaten in last Monday's $1.2 million Group One William Reid Stakes (WFA 1,200 metres) at Moonee Valley. Schillaci, considered unbeatable in weight-for-age dashes up to 1,200 metres, missed the start slightly and was nosed out in a five-way blanket finish by Sydney mare Spanish Mix, a 25-1 chance. The big grey was always under pressure, leaving trainer Lee Freedman to ponder a step up in distance for the horse. That chance looks likely to come in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (WFA 1,400 metres) at Caulfield in three weeks. ''That looks a much better option than freshening him for the Lightning Stakes over 1,000 metres,'' said Freedman who said he was not disappointed with the gelding's performance. Champion mare Let's Elope has run her last race in Australia. Owners Dennis Marks and Kevin White have decided to send her to leading American trainer Ron McAnally who prepares a big string from Santa Anita in California. Marks' decision came as a surprise to trainer Bart Cummings who was looking forward to preparing the mare for next spring. Let's Elope hasn't raced since her gallant seventh in the Japan Cup in November when she suffered a bleeding attack. The fact Let's Elope can race with medication - Lasix - to help prevent her from bleeding is one of the reasons for Marks' decision. The other is a burning ambition for the great mare to prove her worth against the best horses in the world. Let's Elope has had 20 starts for 10 wins and two placings, earning stake money of $15.6 million . She leaves Australia as one of the greatest mares in history after a devastating spring of 1991 in which she took out the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup double.