South Australian-based Mill Park outperformed many other high-profile vendors over the major yearling sales in 2019, including claiming top vendor (by average) honours at last week's Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale at the Riverside Stables.
It sold five colts and a filly for $3,485,000 at an impressive average of $580,833, including its first-ever million-dollar lot, a Brazen Beau colt knocked down to Orbis Bloodstock for $1,150,000.
“It was an amazing sale for us. We knew we were coming up there with a bunch of horses which we knew were of a pretty high standard, but it was fantastic for the industry and all our customers and purchases through the sale,” Watson said.
“We knew based on past history that it was one of the strongest bunch of horses we have taken to Easter,” he said.
"Certainly those prices were well beyond our expectations. It was a massive thrill for us and all the team at Mill Park.” - Mill Park's Chris Watson
“Obviously, with the way the sales have gone at the Gold Coast and Melbourne, there was a lot of money at the top end.
“We were very hopeful we had horses which fit their criteria and it played that way. But certainly those prices were well beyond our expectations. It was a massive thrill for us and all the team at Mill Park.”
It was a record sale for many vendors, with the likes of Corumbene Stud, Tyreel Stud, Sledmere Stud and Kia Ora Stud all having million-dollar results.
The Sydney result came after Mill Park had finished fourth on vendor averages at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, selling seven at an average of $333,571, whilst it was sixth in the vendor averages in Melbourne.
A focus on prospective top-end yearlings is clearly a strategy that is paying dividends, especially at Easter, where Mill Park didn’t sell in 2018.
Watson said this year’s sale result would be a hard act to follow, but he is confident in the quality of the young stock he has at home.
“It’s going to be pretty hard to try and top what we've done this year around Australia, especially there at Easter, but we are very excited with the bunch of weanlings we have at home,” he said.
“If we can replicate close to what we’ve had this year, then we will be very thrilled.”
What is another positive sign for the future is the buyers that Mill Park is attracting. While it wasn't a surprise to see proud South Australian Tony McEvoy vouch for its stock by bidding to $950,000 to secure a Written Tycoon colt in partnership with China Horse Club at the Easter Sale, emerging powerhouse Orbis bought two colts while other lots went to Yulong as well as buyers in Hong Kong and Japan.
“It was exciting to see one of the big new players in our industry take such an interest in our draft." - Chris Watson
“It was exciting to see one of the big new players in our industry take such an interest in our draft,” Watson said. “We were really happy with that.”
“Praise like that from some of the most respected people in the industry drives you to continue to bring these styles of yearlings to the sale,."
“We certainly aim to give all our stock the best start to life as possible and present them in the best possible light at the sale. That's all due to the dedication the team have back at the farm.”
From a wider industry perspective, Watson was impressed with the diversity of the buying bench assembled by Inglis at Easter, which he said laid the foundation for success for farms like Mill Park.
“The top end of the market continues to be driven by big international money, it’s great to see that,” he said.
“The domestic market is very strong too, with the prizemoney put on around Australia really driving the local product."
“It’s allowing the local trainers to still put up their hands on the really nice horses that they desire.”