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Million-dollar Magic highlights bumper first day at National Weanling Sale

16 min read
An I Am Invincible colt purchased by Ciaron Maher Racing became just the second weanling ever sold for $1 million or more in Australia, as records were re-written on the opening day of the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale on the Gold Coast.

Cover image courtesy of Magic Millions

At A Glance

The Sale average rocketed to $112,178, a huge jump on the $57,581 of 2020 and the $59,926 of 2019.

The median sits at a lofty $51,000, up on last year when it was $36,000 and 2019 when it was $30,000.

A new record for a daily aggregate at an Australian weanling sale was set, with $17,948 million spent.

The clearance rate sits at a healthy 84.66 per cent, compared to rates of 71 per cent and 75 per cent after the first day in the past two editions of the Sale.

For the first time since 2007, a foal sold for seven figures in an Australian sales ring, as Ciaron Maher Racing secured the I Am Invincible colt from Gilgai Farm.

There were eight yearlings sold for $500,000 or more, a greater amount than what had been sold in that price range at the Sale over the entire last decade.

The Shadwell Dispersal underpinned the record day's trade, with its 20 weanlings sold for a total of $5.435 million, and at average of $271,750.

Rosemont Stud and Bahen Bloodstock combined to pay $1.3 million for two colts, one by Zoustar and the other by Fastnet Rock.

Bahen Bloodstock also spent $1.71 million across six lots, either under its own name or in other partnerships, to be the day's top buyer.

Vinnie colt becomes a million-dollar rarity

The pre-Sale expectation on Lot 109, the Gilgai Farm offered son of I Am Invincible was very strong, with the main question given the volume of interest he had, on whether he would surpass the magical $1 million mark.

Ciaron Maher Racing ensured he entered a select club of just two foals to have attracted that price in an Australian sales ring, when going to an even $1 million for him, which while short of the record $1.15 million paid for Foxtrot Oscar (Redoute's Choice) at this Sale in 2007, was still an amazing result for Gilgai Farm.

The colt is out of Listed winner Ocean Jewel (Ocean Park {NZ}), making him a blood brother to multiple Group-winning juvenile Catch Me (I Am Invincible) and a great-great grandson of blue hen mare Eight Carat (GB) (Pieces Of Eight {GB}). Maher had spotted him at Gilgai Farm a number of weeks ago and took an immediate shine to him.

Lot 109 - I Am Invincible x Ocean Jewel (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"He was off a really good farm, and I had seen the horse up there. Kelly (Skillecorn) and Rick (Jamieson) they just keep producing winners. We'd hoped we wouldn't have to go quite that dear, but the yearling prices are going up and up this year, and we thought it was a good opportunity," Maher said.

"That's a yearling price, but he's a colt that is clearly a standout, out of a good mare and by the right stallion in I Am Invincible.

"That's a yearling price, but he's (Lot 109) a colt that is clearly a standout, out of a good mare and by the right stallion in I Am Invincible." - Ciaron Maher

"Physically, he has got the movement and strength to think he should go early. Someone said to me, it’s the best weanling they have seen at this Sale ever and they have been coming here for a number of years. Obviously, you have to pay for a horse like that."

Maher said the colt would go back to the farm he was bred from before going through the stable's yearling system in early 2022.

"He will be broken in fairly early and hopefully he can be a good 2-year-old," he said.

Ciaron Maher and Will Bourne | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Gilgai purchased Ocean Jewel privately through Belmont Bloodstock for a reported $1 million and manager Kelly Skillecorn said it was an outstanding result to get such a strong return off her first foal.

"I am surprised at that result. They said he was the best colt at this Sale, but it’s still amazing. It helps a lot," he said.

“I must thank Damon Gabbedy for this horse because he could have sold her to anyone but he sold her to us.”

It was one of three terrific results for the vendor, which also sold Lot 181, an Extreme Choice colt for $650,000 to China Horse Club/Newgate Bloodstock, and Lot 173, a Deep Field colt, to Redwall Syndicate for $250,000.

The Gilgai team with Lot 109 | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"For Rick Jamieson to have the day he had was fantastic," Magic Millions Managing Director, Barry Bowditch, said.

"He's obviously one of Australia's greatest breeders and for him to bring a great selection of high-quality weanlings up here and to be rewarded like he was, was fantastic.

"He's stepped out of the crease and brought an outstanding colt to the market that would go well in any yearling sale. He's got the right money today and we are thrilled to be able to offer a seven-figure weanling."

Ocean Jewel, who foaled the I Am Invincible colt at Cressfield, subsequently missed to Deep Field but will return to the Newgate stallion in 2021.

Zoustar colt tops Shadwell feeding frenzy

The record results were very much powered by the success of the Shadwell Dispersal, which saw over $5.4 million secured for 20 quality weanlings, which had been prepared for sale by Yarraman Park.

While it was the end of an era in terms of Shadwell's involvement, it was very much the opening of an opportunity for several major buyers, who fought hard to snap up foals from some quality families.

It was Rosemont Stud and Bahen Bloodstock who came together to pay the top price for the Shadwell weanlings, of $700,000 for a Zoustar colt out of Listed winner Bulbula (Shamardal {USA}), making him a half-brother to both Group 3 winner Aryaaf (Epaulette) and the Snitzel colt which the Rosemont-led Victorian Alliance paid $1.25 million for at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

Lot 73 - Zoustar x Bulbula (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Again, the colt was purchased as a racing prospect, with a view to him carrying the Rosemont colours.

"I think you have to be looking in all markets to try and buy these quality colts, that we would ultimately want to race and race successfully, to have them earn their spot in our stallion barn," Rosemont Stud Principal, Anthony Mithen, said.

"We came here with a bit of a mission to look at all weanlings across the board and there are various ways that you could use these horses. You can sell them as yearlings, you can breeze them up and you can race them. He certainly fell into the collectors' item category to hold on to and race."

"He (Lot 73) certainly fell into the collectors' item category to hold on to and race." - Anthony Mithen

Mithen said shopping in the weanling market, and buying a colt from a family which was already quite familiar to then seemed a prudent move.

"We bought the Bulbula at Inglis Easter for $1.2 million and so you could look at it that we have helped ourselves to a $500,000 discount. He was as nice a horse as the yearling by Snitzel. They are both by stallions who seem to be able to provide sons going forward, and that fits our wheelhouse in terms of sourcing future stallion prospects. It’s a lovely family and it’s a unique circumstance that we are allowed the privilege to bid on a horse like this," he said.

"We are very pleased to select what we thought was the very best colt out of the Shadwell offering and happy to have him in our paddock."

Anthony Mithen and Ryan McEvoy | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

The partnership with Bahen Bloodstock came about when Mithen bumped into one of their mutual clients on Sale morning.

"We have a good partner, a client of the farm, who was pretty keen on the horse as well. I was fortuitous to bump into him this morning, and we got chatting about horses we liked and we seem to like the same ones," he said.

"They were always going to be champagne tastes. It’s nice to partner up with him and get the opportunity to hold this horse to racing stage and put him in our colours."

Fastnet colt fits the bill

The pair also combined to secure Lot 116, a colt by Fastnet Rock out of Group 2-winning mare Oregon's Day (Domesday), offered by Segenhoe Stud, paying the day's fifth highest price of $600,000.

That colt is a first foal from a highly successful family, with Oregon's Day a half-sister to stakes winners Talent Show (Jeune {GB}) and Oregon Seal (Bel Esprit), out of the Group 3 winner Oregon Spirit (NZ) (Oregon {USA}).

Lot 116 - Fastnet Rock x Oregon's Day (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"Not every horse in this catalogue will suit to fall into the race team. But when you can buy that premium product six months earlier, potentially at a discount, that's the value of a very stylish well-related colt by a good stallion. It's a fair price to pay," Mithen said.

Magic Millions confirmed on Thursday that the colt's dam Oregon's Day will return to next week's Magic Millions Broodmare Sale as a supplementary entry. She sold for $1 million off the racetrack two years ago and was passed in at the recent Inglis Chairman's Sale, offered in foal to Pierata.

The top-priced filly of the day and second top-priced foal of the Shadwell Dispersal was Lot 74, a filly by I Am Invincible out of South African Grade 2 winner Eftikaa (More Than Ready {USA}).

She was purchased by Mitchell Bloodstock for $600,000.

Another highlight from the Shadwell Dispersal saw Tony Fung Investments pay $550,000 for Lot 65, a colt by Exceed And Excel out of Listed winner Nomathaj (Snitzel).

“He’s a fabulous colt and being a son of Exceed And Excel he was high on our list for our racing program," Tony Fung's representative, Shane McGrath, said.

"I was fortunate enough to have a look at Bivouac at the stallion parades last week and I was saying to Vin Cox that he’s the sort of mirror image that you’re looking for in a stallion and I saw a lot of similarities with this colt.

“We love the sire obviously - we were very active on him at the yearling sales - and he’s out of a very fast mare who is out of a Maribyrnong Trial winner out of a Maribyrnong Plate winner, so he’s speed on speed. Exceed And Excel’s been as good a 2-year-old sire as we’ve seen in many a year and we’re delighted to get him."

Shane McGrath | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Bahen Bloodstock also paid $550,000 for another Shadwell foal, Lot 77, a Zoustar filly out of Group 2 winner and G1 Blue Diamond S. runner-up Enbihaar (Magnus), while George Moore Bloodstock went to $500,000 for Lot 63, a Shadwell colt by Per Incanto (USA) and Mulcaster Bloodstock paid $425,000 for Lot 69, an I Am Invincible filly.

A tale of triumph and tears for Shadwell

Yarraman Park's Arthur Mitchell was delighted with how the market had received the Shadwell Dispersal, but did admit that the end of an era presented some mixed emotions.

“It’s actually very, very sad as they’ve been operational in Australia for 30-plus years, so it’s a very sad end of an era for Shadwell and Angus Gold who has been the driver of this and the selector of these horses," he said.

“They’ve had a wonderful weanling sale and I am sure they’re all very happy. They sold very well, but it’s rather sad, that it’s the way it is.

“They’ve (Shadwell) had a wonderful weanling sale and I am sure they’re all very happy. They sold very well, but it’s rather sad, that it’s the way it is." - Arthur Mitchell

“The Sale was very strong, the horses sold well and some sold exceptionally well. I think they’re very happy, we’re very happy. They were well-presented and behaved well and it’s gone perfectly and everyone’s delighted with the Sale."

It was no surprise for Mitchell to see Lot 73 top the Dispersal, given the way the colt had presented, while the I Am Invincible filly purchased by Mitchell Bloodstock, was also highly rated.

All smiles after leaving the sales ring with Lot 73 | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"He was a very nice colt, and then there was an I Am Invincible filly who made $600,000 who is lovely. We think she’s an absolute cracker," he said.

“There were some ones that surprised us, but didn’t at the same time, a Per Incanto making $500,000, he’s a lovely horse and we’ve always loved him on the farm, but we certainly didn’t expect him to make that. We thought more like $250,000, so he certainly doubled our expectations and the Kermadec colt making $300,000. He’s a beautiful horse again, but we certainly weren’t thinking he’d make that.

“It’s funny because the last lot, a Zoustar, made $200,000 and I thought he might have made a bit more. On the whole, I think they all sold very, very well."

The Shadwell Dispersal was prompted by the decision for the global powerhouse to wind down its operations and follows the death of Shadwell supremo Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum in March.

Angus Gold (left) chatting with Arthur and Harry Mitchell at Magic Millions in 2019 | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Gold, the architect of Shadwell's global success on the racetrack and in the breeding barn, watched the Sale from his home in England, according to Mitchell.

“Angus got up and watched the Sale and I think he’s tried to go back to sleep. We’ve had a text message and he’s delighted with the Sale and we’ll be chatting to him later on," he said.

“It’s quite a moving thing for Angus and it’s been quite sad for him. After all those years of putting this together - and no one works harder than Angus, I can tell you - I think it’s very sad the way this had to end.

“While it’s been successful, I really do feel very sorry for Angus for all the work he’s done. He’s done a fabulous job."

A Magic moment

The atmosphere when the Shadwell weanlings were being offered was very different to the usual patter of sales day, with all eyes glued to the sales ring.

"The engagement over that time was fantastic," Bowditch said.

"I noticed the buffet was open and no-one got up to get lunch. You know you have everyone's attention when that is the case.

"Yarraman did a great job getting these weanlings here in the order that they did. They were very well-inspected, they didn't turn a hair over the few days they were here. They performed their job extremely well and the buyers, as they ought to, got in behind them and built these horses up."

"They (Shadwell weanlings) performed their job extremely well and the buyers, as they ought to, got in behind them and built these horses up." - Barry Bowditch

What those results set up was a brilliant day of selling for Magic Millions, with the Sale very much on track to set new records, having already secured nearly $18 million in sales at an average close to double the previous best of $62,910, set in 2018.

"You catalogue quality horses and the quality buyers turn up in droves and that was evident here today. We had an outstanding bunch of horses, as I've said leading into the Sale. The market got behind it and to be averaging well over $100,000 with a healthy clearance rate and a gross number that is beyond our expectations is a fantastic start of a big fortnight," Bowditch said.

The Yarraman Park Stud team | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Extreme repeat for Field and Newgate

The demand for the progeny of young stallions has been a hallmark of the yearling sales season and has clearly followed onto the weanling sales season, with Lot 181, a colt by Extreme Choice out of Snipzu (Snippetson), selling to China Horse Club and Newgate Bloodstock for $650,000, setting a new mark for the highest price for either a yearling or weanling by the stallion through the sales ring.

It was two years ago that Newgate Managing Director Henry Field paid $60,000 for a colt by Extreme Choice at this Sale, and that ended being this year's G1 Golden Slipper S. winner Stay Inside.

"When we saw an Extreme Choice who was the model of Stay Inside, off a great farm, by a very special young sire, he was a horse who was a must-have," Field said.

“He will join our racing team and hopefully he will be as successful as the last Extreme Choice weanling colt I bought but we will see.

“He is a very sharp colt and, to be honest, the best Extreme Choice physically I have ever seen and he’s out of a good mare and off a great farm.

“He (Lot 181) is a very sharp colt and, to be honest, the best Extreme Choice physically I have ever seen and he’s out of a good mare and off a great farm." - Henry Field

“We think the stallion is something very special and to get a colt as good as this we had to push for him. He is an outstanding horse, he’s an awesome colt. He’s the one we thought he was out of the box."

Lot 181 - Extreme Choice x Snipzu (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Snipzu is a stakes-placed mare, who has already produced four winners, including the Group 1-placed The Drinks Cart (Unencumbered).

Field said the colt would be raced in a similar ownership to Stay Inside, with Newgate and China Horse Club to be joined by Go Bloodstock among others.

Extreme Choice, whose fertility has meant limited foal crops, also had colts sell for $220,000 and $210,000.

A filly by another of Newgate's star first-season stallions, Capitalist, Lot 104 from Kitchwin Hills, secured $375,000 to Peachester Lodge.

Meanwhile demand was also strong for the first crop of Trapeze Artist, The Autumn Sun and Justify (USA). Trapeze Artist had a colt sell for $330,000, while the same buyer, Bahen Bloodstock, paid $300,000 for a filly by The Autumn Sun. Group 1 Bloodstock paid $300,000 for a Justify colt.

The Sale resumes at 10am AEST on Friday, with Bowditch confident the opportunities will continue the flow from vendors and buyers.

"There's plenty of nice horses tomorrow, and I think it will be another solid day's selling. We're delighted with the catalogue and we think the market is set now," he said.

"There will be plenty of people that will be going home tonight wanting to still buy horses. We return tomorrow and I think the vendors that have got the quality horses and are realistic with what their expectations are will be very well-rewarded here."

Top lots

109I Am Invincible Ocean Jewel CGilgai Farm, Nagambie, VicCiaron Maher BloodstockVIC$1,000,000
73Zoustar Bulbula CShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Rosemont Stud/Bahen BloodstockVIC$700,000
181Extreme Choice Snipzu CGilgai Farm, Nagambie, VicChina Horse Club/Newgate BloodstockNSW$650,000
74I Am Invincible Ektifaa FShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Mitchell Bloodstock (FBAA)NSW$600,000
116Fastnet Rock Oregon's Day CSegenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW (As Agent)Rosemont Stud/Bahen BloodstockVIC$600,000
65Exceed And Excel Nomothaj CShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Tony Fung InvestmentsQLD$550,000
77Zoustar EnbihaarFShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Bahen BloodstockHONG KONG$550,000
63Per Incanto Nasaayim CShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)George Moore BloodstockHONG KONG$500,000
69I Am Invincible Turaathy FShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Mulcaster BloodstockQLD$425,000
104CapitalistNo Looking Back FKitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW (As Agent)Peachester Lodge Pty LtdQLD$375,000

Top buyers

Bahen Bloodstock5$1,380,000$276,000$550,000
Rosemont Stud/Bahen Bloodstock2$1,300,000$650,000$700,000
Ciaron Maher Bloodstock1$1,000,000$1,000,000$1,000,000
Fernrigg Farm4$1,000,000$250,000$340,000
Tony Fung Investments2$760,000$380,000$550,000
China Horse Club/Newgate Bloodstock1$650,000$650,000$650,000
Mitchell Bloodstock (FBAA)1$600,000$600,000$600,000
Silverdale Farm/Andrew Williams Bloodstock2$510,000$255,000$350,000
George Moore Bloodstock1$500,000$500,000$500,000
Sledmere Stud/Cangon Pty Ltd5$475,000$95,000$160,000

Top vendors by aggregate

Shadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW20$5,435,000$271,750$700,000
Gilgai Farm, Nagambie, Vic3$1,900,000$633,333$1,000,000
Segenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW7$1,455,000$207,857$600,000
Woodside Park Stud, Nagambie, Vic9$1,270,000$141,111$340,000
Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Eddington, Vic4$730,000$182,500$330,000
Kitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW6$661,000$110,167$375,000
Widden Stud, Widden Valley, NSW6$567,000$94,500$220,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerry's Plains, NSW4$565,000$141,250$300,000
Kenmore Lodge, Wyreema, Qld4$485,000$121,250$220,000
Newhaven Park, Boorowa, NSW5$404,000$80,800$250,000

Top vendors by average (3 or more sold)

Gilgai Farm, Nagambie, Vic3$633,333$1,900,000$1,000,000
Shadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW20$271,750$5,435,000$700,000
Segenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW7$207,857$1,455,000$600,000
Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Eddington, Vic4$182,500$730,000$330,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerry's Plains, NSW4$141,250$565,000$300,000
Woodside Park Stud, Nagambie, Vic9$141,111$1,270,000$340,000
Kenmore Lodge, Wyreema, Qld4$121,250$485,000$220,000
Kitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW6$110,167$661,000$375,000
Attunga Stud, Scone, NSW3$105,667$317,000$300,000
Widden Stud, Widden Valley, NSW6$94,500$567,000$220,000

Top sires by aggregate

I Am Invincible6$2,825,000$470,833$1,000,000
Written Tycoon13$1,805,000$138,846$340,000
Extreme Choice3$1,080,000$360,000$650,000
Fastnet Rock2$850,000$425,000$600,000
Exceed And Excel1$550,000$550,000$550,000
Per Incanto1$500,000$500,000$500,000
Trapeze Artist3$492,000$164,000$330,000

Top sires by average (3 or more sold)

I Am Invincible6$470,833$2,825,000$1,000,000
Extreme Choice3$360,000$1,080,000$650,000
Trapeze Artist3$164,000$492,000$330,000
Written Tycoon13$138,846$1,805,000$340,000