Standing room only in the auditorium during the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale (Sharon Lee Chapman)
Segenhoe Stud’s Peter O’Brien has been going to the Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale for a long time.
In fact, 1988 was O’Brien’s initial foray, with the actual Magic Millions sale commencing two years earlier.
“Molokai Prince won the Magic Millions 2YO Classic that year and I can vividly remember Michael Kirwan strapping God’s Wonder for the race,” O’Brien says with a laugh.
“The sale has come a long way since those early days … huge prizemoney with its $10 million race day. David Chester was the bedrock and did some terrific groundwork while (departing Magic Millions Managing Director) Vin Cox has taken it forward to the next level.
“There’s always such a great atmosphere around the place but probably its greatest attribute is that it has grown, incrementally, each year in terms of quality of horses up for sale.”
While O’Brien was with Gooree Park for the ’88 sale, he soon joined up with Coolmore Australia as Stud Manager and it was at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale when his team presented a Street Cry filly from Vegas Showgirl which was eventually knocked down for $230,000.
She’s better known as Winx and, in late October, she won her third straight Cox Plate (and her 22nd race in a row) taking her earnings to $15,627,925 – the highest prizemoney ever for an Australian racehorse.
Ever the salesman, O’Brien was asked if there’s another Winx in Segenhoe’s 2018 Gold Coast draft? “There’s 19 of them!”.
Eureka Stud principal, Scott McAlpine, has fond memories of the Gold Coast too. He was front and centre with his father, Colin, for the inaugural sale in 1986 and reckons Eureka hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s just a great place to be … everyone’s there and while it’s obviously busy, there’s such a tremendous feel to it,” McAlpine points out. “It has good facilities as well and the open air boxes are suitable to the climate. Prior to the Magic Millions we used to sell our horses at the Brisbane Showgrounds which was pretty ordinary. For that first time on the Gold Coast, there were around 350 boxes from memory, but you can house up to a 1,000 horses on the complex now. Really has come a long way.”
So has the farm. Eureka Stud has either bred/offered and or raced five winners of six Magic Millions ‘majors’, commencing with Sea Cabin, who captured the fillies division of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in 1988, Helter Skelter (2007 Magic Millions Sprint – renamed the Magic Millions Snippets this year after the inaugural 2YO Classic winner in 1987), dual Magic Millions Trophy winner, Tinto (raced by McAlpine’s wife Grania), another Magic Millions Snippets winner in Temple of Boom and, just for good measure, the half brother, Spirit of Boom, captured the Magic Millions Cup in 2012.
And speaking of Boom, the Eureka based Spirit of Boom has launched his stud career in incredible fashion with seven winners by the end of 2017 including three individual stakes winners. One of them, Ef Troop, is favourite for Saturday’s $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic, while another, Jonker, is equal second favourite for the race.
However, while O’Brien and McAlpine are old hands when it comes to selling on the Coast, Lucas Bloodstock is bringing its first draft to the Magic Millions, on behalf of 2017 big spenders: Phoenix Thoroughbred.
“We (Lucas Bloodstock) are based in South East Queensland and are a boutique operation for specific clients,” Ben Lucas explains. “We’ve been selling at other sales for around 10 years, but this is our first major draft at the January Magic Millions.
“Nice horses too. The Phoenix operation is based in Britain, but they are clearly familiar with all the associated benefits of selling and racing horses in Australia. They spent up big at the broodmare and weanling sales last year and some of the results of that exercise will be going through the ring this week.
“It’s terrific to see this level of global investment into the local industry and fingers crossed they get a good result.”
Magic Millions Bloodstock Manager, soon to be Managing Director, Barry Bowditch will be crossing fingers AND toes as the first session opens at 10am Queensland time tomorrow morning (continuing through to next Tuesday), and is “cautiously optimistic” of continued success.
Last year, Book 1 of the sale grossed $135,188,500 (up from $68 million in 2013), while the average peaked at $205,142 with a massive clearance rate of 88%.
“A lot of key things need to fall into place which can be out of our control, but given the terrific shape of racing and prizemoney in Australia, we’ll certainly be aiming for a similar result to last year,” Bowditch points out. “2017 was our most significant year to date, particularly for the Gold Coast Yearling Sale and the Gold Coast Nationals, so we’re coming off a high base.
“The magnitude of Group One winners that have graduated from Magic Millions sales certainly works in our favour. Our graduates registered 28 Group One victories in 2017, most notably Winx and $10 million Everest winner, Redzel.
“Horses like Winx and Redzel give you a lot of noise and show how successful the brand is. It’s a chance to make a real song and dance of it.
“But it’s the sheer number of good horses that provide a great synergy as well. Keeps the food chain going and, importantly, underscores our selection process.”
Magic Millions is also focusing on the tagline “Breed Shapers, Life Changers” for its 2018 chapter and the description is apt according to Bowditch.
“Over the years, Magic Millions has produced stallions such as Snippets, Snitzel, Not a Single Doubt, General Nediym, Testa Rossa, Written Tycoon and Sebring, which have all become major influences at stud and yes, changed a whole lot of lives,” Bowditch reveals. “Now you have other graduates like Pierro who is off to a magnificent start, along with Spirit of Boom whose first crop youngsters are going gang busters.
“This is what I believe makes the sale such an attraction to investors, both internationally and domestically. A lot of those stallions – and horses like Capitalist, Vancouver and Dissident that are coming through – could all be purchased fairly inexpensively, but their stud value is now in the tens of millions. It’s really quite fulfilling what we’re doing.”
The 2018 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale catalogue can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2D51v9c, while Aushorse has also compiled an interactive brochure – featuring commentary from international investors such as John Moynihan (Stonesteet Farm), Justin Casse, Elliott Walden (WinStar Farm) and Ned Toffey (Spendthrift Farm) – which can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/2CUT676