Kennewell played the strongest hand to secure the new sales topper

5 min read
There are two sides to every sale and while the attention is usually focused on the successful bidder, the reaction from sellers Steve and Louise Gillard left no doubt what it meant to them when Lot 869 (I Am Invincible) topped the Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale at $1.7m.

On one side of the room surprise buyer Lloyd Kennewell shook hands with well wishers after out-bidding Godolphin for the I Am Invincible colt but on the opposite side of the auditorium the Gillards were simply shaking.

"It's emotional, I've put a lot of money in and now I am starting to get some out," said Steve, but Louise's tear-streaked face showed this, and dam Oakleigh Girl (Snitzel), meant far more than money for the couple.

"All she ever did was try so hard for us, I just love her so much, she deserves this," she said.

Oakleigh Girl was a herself a high-priced Magic Millions yearling, the Snitzel daughter of Group 1 winner Miss Kournikova making $400,000 at the 2013 sale.

"She is a fantastic advertisement for what the Magic Millions is all about." - Louise Gillard

Lloyd Kennewell with his newest purchase

"That is how Steve got me into racing," Louise said. "He was already in racing and he wanted me to love it too. So he bought a horse and put it in my name. He told me he thought she was going to be a good horse and the first thing we did was go to Melbourne and she won the first race on Melbourne Cup day. I said, "Ooh, OK, this is good". We went to Magic Millions and we were second to Unencumbered (Testa Rossa), I won the female bonus and she won Queensland 2-year-old of the year."

"She is a fantastic advertisement for what the Magic Millions is all about."

Steve Gillard has spent plenty of money chasing his dream and has compiled an impressive band of broodmares.

Last year Oakleigh Girl had a Sebring filly sell for $450,000 and Gillard admits when he laid eyes on the I Am Invincible colt at Yarraman Park there was some hesitation in selling.

The newest sale topper, I Am Invincible x Oakleigh Girl

"I am a very reluctant seller but I have to sell the good ones," he said. "I've put together what I think is one of the best broodmare bands in Australia. He was a beautiful horse. We put a reserve of $500,000, and I thought he would go for $800,000 or so, but he is a special horse and he looked ready to go."

"I am a very reluctant seller but I have to sell the good ones." - Steve Gillard

The result was probably just as life changing for Kennewell, a young trainer who has only just moved his entire operation to Caulfield after closing his Morphettville stables last week.

While most of the eleven million dollar lots were bought by the colt funds, largely made up of offshore investors, Kennewell's syndicate was formed on the fly after he identified the lot as "the colt of the sale."

"He was clearly the pick for me, I think he was the best colt on the complex." - Lloyd Kennewell

"He was clearly the pick for me, I think he was the best colt on the complex. We wanted to go big this year and we came here knowing we wanted that colt," he said. "We put a really good crew together in the last three days, I've never done one that with one that has made a million but this was the one I wanted. I've just moved to Victoria and I've got some great supporters and I wanted to pull it together."

"If you are the under bidder nobody remembers, so we were not going to lose a horse like that for one bid. He passed a million and we didn’t know where he'd stop. We thought, 1.5 - 1.7m, that was what we valued him at. We did it very well and we pulled it off. There would be people who doubted we could do that. I'm a young guy who has moved from Adelaide and hopefully we can repay the faith for everybody that has been involved. It has worked out well, the ownership group is led by Ossie Kheir. Hopefully we can continue on and get a really good result for this horse."

"I'm a young guy who has moved from Adelaide and hopefully we can repay the faith for everybody that has been involved." - Lloyd Kennewell

Kennewell hopes to be back next year contesting the Classic with a colt he as described as an ideal two-year-old type.

"It’s great to take him home, he just looks like a horse that you can get him home and bring him to the race next year and be a real Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper type horse."

"Oakleigh Girl ran second to Unencumbered and she was out of Miss Kournikova who won an Oakleigh Plate. It's a case of speed-on-speed out of a Snitzel mare. I know that breed so well. Most of the deal is done, it’s just a matter of getting him home, giving him a rest down at Merricks station, down in Victoria and then getting broken in."

The trainer made special mention of Matt Becker from Group 1 Bloodstock, who helped bring the ownership group together.

"We've been family friends for a long, long time but it has taken until the last 12 months to do a bit of stuff together. We finally agreed on this one. It worked out great and he is going to be one of my big supporters and my bloodstock agent," Kennewell said.