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Magic Millions National Weanling Sale

Tim Rowe | 30.06.2016

Preface: The Magic Millions National Weanling Sale on the Gold Coast continued a fantastic year for the sales company. We speak to the key players that drove the trade.

A bumper year for the Magic Millions sales company continued in May when the National Weanling Sale grossed $17,348,250 with 292 lots sold at an average of $59,412 and clearance rate of 88 per cent compared to the previous year where 252 lots sold at an average of $59,823 and a clearance rate of 80 per cent.

This year’s success marked a continuing upward trend for the National Weanling Sale, which had grossed $9,002,950 in 2013 when 243 lots sold at an average of $37,049, and the sale statistics showed plenty of strength in depth in 2016.

With the top 10 per cent of the market showing a eight per cent increase in average from $220,833 to $238,793 it was in fact the middle to lower end of the market that showed the largest increases. The 41 – 50 per cent bracket increased 50 per cent from $19,717 last year to $29,500 this year, while the lowest bracket showed almost a 200 per cent increase, up from $939 in 2015 to $2,650 this year.

Similar increases were seen in the medians, with the top ten per cent of the market showing a ten per cent increase from $200,000 a year ago to $220,000 this year. The 51 – 60 per cent bracket rose 50 per cent from $20,000 to $30,000 while the bottom ten per cent of the market rose 100 per cent from $1,000 to $2,000.

That considerable increases seen in the lower part of the market is particularly pleasing for Vin Cox, managing director for Magic Millions.

“The increase in the bottom ten per cent has probably been the most surprising and pleasing trend in the market at the moment,” Cox told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“That lower end of the market has really jumped up and I have no doubt in my mind that it is the strong base of prize money on offer in jurisdictions like Racing New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland that has brought a lot of people into the market.

“Whether it’s a country trainer way out west, who can buy a horse with confidence and take back home and win some prize money, or the ‘mum and dad owner’ who want to get into racing or the guy on a farm that hasn’t been buying horses for 25 years, they are all having a go.

“That is a very positive thing about our industry at the moment. It is strong at all levels and different elements to the market are driving it.”

The strength in depth of the results highlight the progress made by the weanling market in recent years, according to Cox.

“It was spectacular on all fronts,” he said. “I think the most pleasing thing from our point of view is that it has really come of age.

“It has developed into a very sophisticated market now where a lot of end-users buy as well as syndicators and pinhookers who are underpinning the market.

“The weanling market in general seems to be getting stronger all the time with breeders selling their entire drafts as weanlings which has created a lot of confidence that what people are being are not culls and that what is on offer is a premium product.”

One buyer who certainly seemed impressed with the weanlings being offered was James Bester Bloodstock, who purchased six lots for an aggregate of $1,390,000 at an average of $231,667 and finished the sale as the leading purchaser.

“What can one say – it was the hottest weanling and mare sale in Australian history at least,” Bester told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“Myself and my clients were forced to pay ‘yearling prices’ for the best weanlings – all we can hope is that the yearling market rises accordingly next year, given that we were pin-hooking!”

“But why shouldn’t they? They still have a way to go to match northern hemisphere markets.”

Of the six lots purchased by James Bester Bloodstock, was Lot 207 a colt by Coolmore stallion Pierro (Lonhro) who he purchased for $330,000.

The weanling colt is out of a winning mare, Bellevue Girl (Exceed And Excel), a sister to McNeil Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) winner Sugar Babe (Exceed And Excel) and a half-sister to the stakes-placed Muscovado (Big Brown).

Offered by Newgate Farm as agent, the colt is the mare’s second foal, with her first a yearling filly by Foxwedge (Fastnet Rock) bringing $160,000 at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale this year when purchased by Mick Flanagan.

Bester feels there is plenty of cause of optimism in the Australian breeding market at present.

“All in all, we’re very fortunate to be part of a particularly strong breeding and racing industry and can look forward to continuing growth in the short to medium term at least.”

James Harron Bloodstock, who bought five weanlings for a gross of $1,127,500 at an average of $225,500 compared to just two lots for a total of $780,000 last year, was similarly complimentary about the weanlings offered at this year’s sale.

“When purchasing weanlings I apply the same standard as to yearling purchases and I feel that we secured more this year as a result of an excellent catalogue,” Harron told ANZ Bloodstock News.

“The five purchases this year were for a variety of clients, some for resale and some to keep and race. The weanling market is strong, with plenty of people there for the choice lots.

“By its nature there are plenty of culls in the catalogues at of all the weanling sales, but I thought this year there was a pleasing degree of quality offerings, and the sales prices reflected this.”

Harron added: “There were well prepared and presented weanlings from professional vendors who have given them a good start in life.

“Vin and his team do a great job putting on the sale and compiling a great catalogue.”

Also featuring prominently in the purchaser table was Victoria-based Sheamus Mills Bloodstock, who purchased nine weanlings for a total of $1,132,500 compared to just two for $125,000 in 2015.

A surplus of orders following the Inglis Australian Weanling Sale prompted a higher purchase rate from Mills.

“I bought as much as I could in Sydney (at the Inglis Australian Weanling Sale) but I couldn’t fill all my orders so I went to the Gold Coast looking for high-quality product basically.

“The market for weanlings, like all bloodstock, seems to stay at its strongest towards the top end, so after doing a fair bit of work in Sydney I still had a few orders for the high-end bracket and thankfully those horses were there.”

Mills, who is often known for his pinhooking exploits, sees several benefits in purchasing from weanling sales but is also planning on racing some of his purchases.

“I all buy sorts and certainly purchase to race as well. I have probably had more stakes horses that I have purchased as weanlings than I have as yearlings.

“That is a result of a couple of things – I think there is less competition in the weanling market as you don’t have 200 trainers competing with all their cashed up clients as well.

“So, I am able to buy a horse that I want at a yearling sale more so than I am able to at a yearling sale.

“That top end of the market is where the margin can be. With pinhooking, I’ve found it’s a lot easier to turn a $200,000 horse into a $300,000 horse than it is to turn a $50,000 horse into a $150,000 horse.”

Mills’ two highest-priced purchases were both secured for $250,000 with plans remaining fluid for Lot 279, a weanling filly by Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) out of American stakes-winning mare Easy Tee (Lil E Tee) who was purchased from the Holbrook Thoroughbreds draft.

The filly’s dam has produced Wonderful Era (Northern Meteor), a multiple winner in Singapore, from two foals to race and Mills is undecided on whether to race the filly himself.

“I am undecided whether to sell her or keep to race,” he said. “We’ll see how she develops and it’s probably a 50/50 call at the moment.”

Mills’ other $250,000 purchase, Lot 70,  is a weanling colt by I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) out of Listed-placed mare Radiant Star (Success Express), which makes him a half-brother to Group One-placed Scratch Me Lucky (Snitzel).

Mills has earmarked a return to the Magic Millions sales ring for the colt.

“He’s definitely for resale and the plan is to take him back to the Magic Millions sales in January,” he said.

Also included in Mills’ nine weanling purchases was Lot 213, a colt by Dundeel (High Chaparral) who is a half-brother to CS Hayes Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m) winner Tivaci (High Chaparral) and was purchased for $180,000 from the Bell View Park Stud dispersal.

Mills was full of praise for stallion Dundeel (High Chaparral), who finished the sale as leading first season sire with six weanlings selling for an aggregate of $860,000 at an average of $143,333.

“I was really impressed by the Dundeel offspring,” he said. “I hadn’t invested a lot of time and effort into researching the horse, but when I saw them in the flesh I was really taken by him.

“I reckon I bid on two other Dundeels and I would have happily bought them as well.

“I don’t know whether he’s just one of those stallions where some of his better (foals) went to the sales, but traditionally you get a small percentage of the better ones by a first crop stallion at the weanling sales.

“If that’s what he (Dundeel) has in store next year he’ll be an exciting horse.”

Mills hopes to offer the son of Dundeel at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January but will only do so if the colt has developed well enough.

“He will go back through the sales,” he said. “You wouldn’t have normally picked Dundeel (to sire) a January yearling but when I bought him I thought he was forward enough to make the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

“But sometimes those horses, their growth plane can leave them a little bit behind some of the more precocious horses. He’s another one we’ll just assess in October and see if he’s forward enough for a sale like that.”

Like Mills, Musk Creek were much more active at the National Weanling Sale compared to the previous year with six weanlings purchased for a gross of $758,000 against three purchases for $395,000 in 2015.

Darren Mackereth of the Victoria-based operation, who purchased Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Pierro for $115,000 at the National Weanling Sale in 2010 before selling on to Gai Waterhouse for $230,000 at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in 2011, was impressed by the buoyancy of the market.

“It was strong as have all the sales been so far and the quality of the stock was good,” Mackereth told ANZ Bloodstock News. “The weanling market is getting stronger every year with more people selling weanlings, which is something we will be looking at doing ourselves if we have the right weanlings for the job.

“The pinhooking game is strong but people are also buy to race or for ready to run sales even breeding which has up the prices.

“We buy depending on how many home breds we have and what spots we need filled to make up a nice even line and draft numbers for the yearling sales next year.

“We have had good success in the past from this sale and the broad selection of good types with clean x rays play a part as well.”

The competitive nature of the sale was, however, a cause for some frustration for Ceri Jostlear.

“It was quite tough going,” she told ANZ Bloodstock News. “We were under bidder quite a few times on the horses we really liked.

“We usually buy a couple of weanlings at the Gold Coast each year. We usually find it hard going at the Gold Coast sale as prices are always up, there’s plenty of competition up there.”

Ampulla Lodge and Ascot Farm purchased three weanlings for a total of $635,000 at an average of $211,637, including Lot 273a filly by So You Think (High Chaparral) out of Listed winner and Group Two-placed mare Dorf Command (Commands), who was purchased for $335,000.

Her only foal to race is the Clarry Conners-trained three-year-old Dorf Star (Starcraft), who has won twice this season.

Further back this is the family of Group One winner Coco Cobanna (Casual Lies) and Group Three winner Electric General (General Nediym).

Dorf Command’s Sebring (More Than Ready) yearling colt was bought by James Harron Bloodstock at this year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for $410,000 and was also offered by Three Bridges Thoroughbreds.

The partnership also paid $200,000 for Lot 99, a weanling colt by So You Think offered by Widden Stud.

Ceri Jostlear is confident purchasing the progeny of So You Think will prove profitable.

“There’s plenty of upside there,” she said. “He hasn’t had many runners and at the time (of the sale) I think he had 13 runners and had a Group Two winner already and a couple of other stakes-placed horses. So hopefully it is quite a safe gamble.

“We haven’t decided what sale they will go to yet, we will just see how they grow and make the decisions a bit later on, most likely in the spring time once we know how they have developed. Both will be sold in Australia.”

The appeal of buying at the National Weanling Sale is clear for Jostlear, who will look to send her purchases through the ring as yearlings.

“We go there aiming to gather stock for us to turn over at a Magic Millions on the Gold Coast in January or an Inglis Easter quality sale, you definitely need to go there to get the quality weanlings with the pedigrees and all that.

“I think people enjoy going up there at that time of year for a warm break, everyone seems to go and everyone seems to be on the same horses.

“That makes it a little bit difficult but we seem to manage to pick up a couple each year.”

The appeal of the Gold Coast as a location for buying and selling horses in the autumn is not lost on Cox.

“Through our work with Tourism and Events Queensland we market the Gold Coast as a destination and a focus point and we make a very loud noise about how great things are on the Gold Coast at that time of year.

“For our friends in New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, the weather is invariably very nice and it’s a great venue.

“The vibe on the Gold Coast is really conducive to a strong sale and it is great to be a part of that.”

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