Sancy sparkles as Magic Millions hopeful for Canning Downs

Sancy and Tommy Berry returning to scale after winning at Rosehill (Steve Hart Photographics)


On face value, a daughter of Australia’s champion sire from a stakes-winning mare should have been an instant hit at the yearling sales.

And for a fleeting moment she was all of that.

During inspections at this year’s Magic Millions sales, with her pedigree page as shiny and precious as the famous diamond she is now named after, the yearling attracted enough potential buyers to give every reason a reserve would be reached.

That was until it got down to the nitty-gritty of assessing the X-rays on the I Am Invincible-Thiamandi filly and suddenly the interest dried up.

She couldn’t be sold and the filly was retained by John Barnes and Joy McKay from Queensland’s famous Canning Downs stud.

More importantly, she now races for her breeders as Sancy and she is heading the right way to return to the scene of her sales-ring disappointment as a horse to be reckoned with at the Gold Coast next month.

Sancy made a winning debut at Rosehill on Saturday in the Drinkwise Plate over 1100m, showing enough talent and professionalism for trainer Peter Snowden to include her in his stable’s team for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic.



She has come a long way since Canning Downs manager Robert Petith was told by some vets at the 2019 sales that her racing prospects were bleak.

“We had different interpretations of X-rays. We knew she had bilateral sesamoid fractures in her left-fore (leg) which she had done as a very, very young foal,” Petith said.

“She never had a lame day and we actually never picked it up until survey X-ray time.

“Obviously we knew about it before the sales and we had some different opinions on the X-rays.”

The market erred on the side of caution and for all of her untold quality she was passed in.

“We knew at the sales we had this beautiful filly and everyone was looking at her but they were just falling off,” Petith said.

“It was hard. I said ‘this is the situation with the X-rays and our vets thought everything should be OK’ but people weren’t agreeing with that.

“We knew it was always going to be a concern for some buyers … clinically you wouldn’t be able to tell.

“But when we got to the Magic Millions that wasn’t the way the vets were interpreting it.

“They were extremely damning. Some went as far as to say that she would never get to the track.”

If the prognosis of those vets was right, in a worst-case scenario the filly would be a welcome replacement and addition to the Canning Downs broodmare band.

“We weren’t going to give her away because we thought so much of her and at that point we had lost the mare (Thiamandi) and she’s an I Am Invincible,” Petith said.

Sancy’s emergence continues a connection between Snowden and her owners that started when the trainer worked under John Hawkes at Crown Lodge in Sydney.

Hawkes trained Only Words for Barnes and his partner with the mare winning three times at Group Two level to complement Group One placings in the TJ Smith Stakes and All Aged Stakes.

Sancy is one of three Canning Downs graduates from this year’s Magic Millions sales to find their way to the Snowden stable.

“We feel very fortunate whenever a horse goes from our farm into a yard like that,” Petith said

“Obviously they are going to get every opportunity.”

Canning Downs has a special place in the history of the Australian turf and the property has been in Barnes’ family for more than a century.

Famous names such as Tails, The Diver, Rivoli and Highland have been bred or raced by the Barnes family and there is an air of reserved confidence about Sancy leaving her mark.

“We keep ourselves very grounded. We know how quickly things can change,” Petith said.

“But John and Joy really deserve every bit of success. They support all areas of the industry. They race plenty of horses, they breed from between 15 and 20 mares a year.

“They are involved in all aspects of it and we’re really hopeful this girl can be our next star.”

The Power of Passion