Another successful Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for Bennett Racing came to close on Saturday night after 5 frenzied sessions of selling. Gross and average were up and a good clearance rate near 90% achieved.
It’s never easy to try and looks at over 1000 yearlings on the complex and this is why in previous years we had traveled up to The Hunter Valley and inspected up to 600 there.
This year due to reasons beyond our control, a Hunter Valley trip was off the cards. Yulong, Three Bridges and Rosemont all had good sized drafts up at the Coast, so we inspected those studs here in Victoria. For Magic Millions luckily were we able to secure the services of Donncha McCarthy from Ireland on the recommendation of Stuart Bowman from Blandford Bloodstock UK. Donncha was a great fit and his input invaluable. Together Nathan Phil and Donncha inspected all of the book 1 yearlings by splitting up and looking at a third each.
Inspections started on Wednesday morning and by chance on of the first drafts looked at was the well respected nursery Cressfield. This is where our first lot purchased at the sale would come from.
By Sunday the third inspections were done and a final list of just over 100 horses was finalised. The next task was trying to get the vendors expectations for the day 1 yearlings which is a tricky task really. This helps us to decide whether or not we feel the yearlings are in a price range and at a level we feel they are worth. The final process is to get day 1 yearlings vetted. That process sees the veterinarian view the 36 radio graphs of the yearling. There are some accepted lesions or imperfections and some that are not. It’s all about a risk factor and generally veterinarians rate this risk as LOW RISK, LOW TO MEDIUM RISK, MEDIUM RISK and finally HIGH RISK which is simply as stated a HIGH RISK yearling for racing purposes. Of course as with humans horses can perform beyond their risk level but this is a risk we do not take.
So into battle on Day 1 we went and soon after the realisation set in that this was shaping as another record sale. With so many rich bonus races announced and further increases in prize money, not just for Magic Millions but Australia wide, racing here is in quite a healthy state and people want the chance at that prize money.
After losing out on a few lots earlier Lot 69 walked into the ring, a really athletic grey colt with a great swagger and by super sire Extreme Choice. Being by one of Australia’s most sort after sires the colt was always going to be well sort after and we were thrilled to secure him for a very fair 310k. He really had it all size, looks, great walk and although his pedigree was a little light on blacktype he really was a STAR. With the sire Extreme Choice being an upgrader, as his record at stud already shows, he stands for over 300k with quite a few sons whisked off to stud. We felt he was a great value buy and so have a lot of owners, with him near sold out already. Phillip Stokes has been entrusted to nurture this prized colt.
It would take another 60 lots to go through the ring until we were able to strike again and Lot 128 fits the bill as a running colt by the proven sire of speedsters in Capitalist. A former Magic Millions and Golden Slipper winner, Capitalist renown for sharp strong horses and this colt being out of a fast winning Exceed And Excel mare really ticked all boxes for what we were after. A well balanced colt with good bone and substance he was purchased from emerging Victorian Farm Longwood owned and run hands on by none other than the AFL’s sole match adjudicator Michael Christian. The colt was purchased for Annabel Neasham at a very reasonable 130k considering Capitalists service fee is 99k incl.
Some 30 lots later a super strong chestnut colt came into the ring as Lot 156. We spotted him on day 2 of inspections from the Cornish’s, breeders of Gr1 Coolmore Stks winner Home Affairs, Torryburn Stud draft. Such a well-muscled individual and by another top class sire in Deep Field this colt just oozed class, powered over the ground and was a full brother to a recent Hong Kong importation the stakes placed Three Beans. Secured for 230k we felt he was a perfect fit to be trained at Flemington by Malua Racing.
On day 2 Wednesday Leon and Troy were the beneficiaries of our next purchase Lot 222 another striking Deep Field colt from the Newgate Draft. The 2nd foal from a stakeswinning American mare the colt owns a big USA stakes pedigree and was purchased for a great value price of 145k. Another well made quality colt with great movement it just goes to show that Sales have up and down periods and if the cards fall your way you can get lucky. We feel we were extremely lucky to get him for the price.
The rest of the sale day proved to be fruitless bar for the ringside dining as for the 2nd day in a row, fresh 1/2 lobsters were on the menu as were oysters. Pork belly, steamed fish even a couple of curries made Wednesday’s menu which took away the disappointment of missing a few prized lots on our wish list.
Thursday Day 3 promised new hope and expectations and once again we headed off to the complex at 8am for a vet meeting. This was a regular occurrence every sale day morning as we discussed the vetting results for the days lots we were interested in.
Some hopes dashed others buoyed. Unbeknown at the time, today a special occurrence would happen later on and I’m sure none of the 3 of us will forget for a while.
After a fair few misses Lot 588 walked into the ring. A stylish chestnut daughter of 3 time Champion Australian sire SNITZEL. The filly had so much class and waltzed around the ring. From the famed Arrowfield Stud the filly came from the family of 5 time Gr1 winner and this years Arc winner the incomparable ALPHINISTA. We were absolutely stoked to get her for 200k and being a sharper, racey filly Ben & JD Hayes were entrusted to train her. You may or may not know but SNITZEL is an emerging and highly prized broodmare sire so this little superstar with all the looks and pedigree holds good residual value. Enter the VERY NEXT LOT, Lot 589 yet another SNITZEL filly. This time a bay girl, nicely marked and boy what a QUEEN. A filly who carried herself with such aura and a filly with all the pedigree in the world. She is a daughter of a top class South African 2yo who won their countries equivalent of our own Golden Slipper and also just beaten in the Gr1 Guinea’s. Retired to stud her 1st 2 foals are both stakes horses. But she really hit the jackpot with her 4th foal the Animal Kingdom mare OLEKSANDRA. Although bred and initially raced in Australia OLEKSANDRA left our shores as a 3 start maiden and headed off to America to continue her career. Not only did she end up winning a couple of Gr3 races and a Listed race OLEKSANDRA became the only Australian bred mare to beat the males on turf in a Gr1 Sprint in America. Loosening up his broad shoulders Nathan was determined to secure the filly and when the gravel fell she was OURS for 400k. Danny O’Brien was in love with her as were we so who better to train.
It’s hard to top a day like Thursday as we never anticipated being able to purchase not one but two SNITZEL QUEENS but Friday Day 4 was always a day we couldn’t wait for.
Around 3hrs into the sale was Lot 748 a colt from the famed Sledmere Stud. Steeped with history and renowned producers of top class racehorses the colt Sledmere had in their draft was a 3/4 brother to our own very exciting filly BEAUTY RISING who had shown so much ability in running a fast closing 2nd to the unbeaten Croatian Belle on debut. Set to resume in a Blue Diamond Prelude, Beauty Rising may turn out to be one our best potentially!
Pinhooking is a craft or an ability to recognise the potential in a weanling (in this case) purchase him or her and represent them as a yearling hopefully for profit. It’s not easy, some don’t come on, and some bloom or some you pay overs at the time for. When purchased as a Weanling last year this colt by first crop speed horse Cosmic Force out of Beauty Rising and Apache Star’s dam this colt made a whopping 190k. Standing at a realistic 11k Cosmic Force was a fast horse with great ability but never was tested at Gr1 level hence the lower fee. But this colt was a superior physical and walked as if he owned the turf he walked on. We bidded and bidded strong and secured him for 250k. WOW not that often you get what you want and who better than Phil Stokes to train him.
Henry Field is a mover and shaker in Australian breeding. In a few short years he has built an empire called Newgate Farm. Those paddocks at Newgate have grown out many a champion and our own Zou Dancer Gr3 Vanity winner and Blazerro 2nd in a Gr2 Sandown Guineas have been sourced from Newgates previous drafts. When Henry says “I want to stay in” you listen and thats what happened when we secured our 2nd Extreme Choice colt from his draft. A ripping chestnut colt like his Dad Lot 788 is a colt to behold. Such a powerful colt rippling with muscle on great bone. The ease of how he covers the ground, Henrys offer just nailed the deal as we wanted him when we laid eyes on him the previous Saturday. Unbelievable buy at 330k so much in fact his trainer Ciaron Maher took some as well.
Just when you think a day cannot get any better along comes Gai. “Its simple boys” she said “I want Lot 884” “you want Lot 884” “you know what a good Zoustar looks like and so do I” ” let’s not fight over her ” says Racings first lady ” you buy her, I’ll train her but I want a fair chunk of her too” then she says ” it will be fun your wives and girl friends can all dress up and come to the races with me”.
So in walks the filly Lot 884 a daughter of our fav Zoustar and her Mum is the superfast Flemington straight stakeswinner Fox Swift. What a QUEEN as she glides around the ring. The bids are furious, Nathan shaky but prevails at 370k and she becomes part of Bennett Racing and our 1st horse with Gai and Adrian.
Friday night was big as it could be considering we had been up at the Coast already for 10 days and it takes it toll for sure.
Along comes the Saturday night session Day 5. An event within an event. Usually all the race goers head over but with the days racing abandoned fewer came over.
There were a couple of lots we like but one I particular was a must. A striking dark brown colt by Champion racer Pierata a first crop son Champion Pierro and his best son too. We had gone back a couple of times to see him but never was someone there! Eventually when I saw him I thought WOW. Put on the 2nds list so when the others saw him it was unanimous WE HAD TO GET HIM. So it was a bit of dejavu too as he was from Goodwood Farm whom we had bought another colt by a 1st crop son a few years ago. He turned out ok too and runs as The Astrologist no less!
We had decided to get a horse with Peter Moody and after discussions he agreed. We had tried for a few over the last few days but when they went high in price he would always turn around to Nathan and screw up his face “NAH let it go”. This colt we decided was for Moods. As the colt saunted into the ring his dark coat glistened under lights and every muscle rippled. Nathan made his intent early and was strongest at the end securing him for 100k. Job done.
So that was the story of 11 days of Bennett Racing at Magic Millions.
Some 10 outstanding yearlings purchased, missed on a heap of others!
Two more Champion trainers join the team.
And our wives, partners and owners can all dress up and go to the races with Gai.