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Records tumble as Magic Millions weanlings hit peak demand

15 min read
A record-breaking Magic Millions National Weanling Sale has come to a close, with four more foals selling for over $500,000 including an I Am Invincible colt secured by Tony Fung Investments for $625,000.

Cover image courtesy of Magic Millions

At A Glance

The Book 1 average exploded to $105,838, a huge jump on the $41,236 of 2020 and the $62,917 of 2019.

The overall Sale aggregate reached $31.7 million, surpassing the previous record of $28.1 million set in 2019, and a massive increase on the $8.04 million spent last year.

The clearance rate soared to 88.24 per cent in Book 1, an increase on the 72 per cent in 2020 and the 78 per cent in 2019.

The Book 1 median finished at $52,250, up on $23,000 last year and $35,000 in 2019.

The $625,000 paid for Lot 339, the colt by I Am Invincible offered by Kitchwin Hills, was the highest price on the second day.

Ciaron Maher Racing, who purchased the Sale-topping colt on Thursday for $1 million, backed up with a $560,000 on Friday for Lot 363, a colt by Zoustar offered by Segenhoe Stud.

Bruce Mackenzie landed a rare diamond with Lot 387, a filly by Frankel (GB), which he paid $530,000 for.

Record Sale stuns Magic Millions

While the anticipation of the National Weanling Sale was for a very robust market, given the strength of the yearling market as well as the results of the recent Inglis Australian Weanling Sale, Magic Millions has been taken aback by an extraordinary two days of selling on the Gold Coast.

The previous best average for the National Weanling Sale of $62,910 has been blown away, with a 68.2 per cent increase to $105,638, while the overall Sale aggregate also eclipsed anything achieved before at the Sale, surging to $31.7 million, a near four-fold increase on what was turned over just 12 months ago.

They are stats to warm the heart of any sales company and Magic Millions Managing Director, Barry Bowditch, admitted that the results far surpassed what he thought was possible.

"The market is in a great place at the moment and we were delighted with the horses we had to offer. But even as confident as we were, this has far exceeded our expectations. To average well over $100,000, have a clearance rate of 88 per cent, which is really good for this market and to gross over $31.5 million is extraordinary," he said.

"Even as confident as we were, this has far exceeded our expectations." - Barry Bowditch

The Sale numbers were significantly helped by the Shadwell Dispersal, which featured 20 premium weanlings on Thursday and raised over $5.4 million, but even without those horses, the average still stands at $93,944.

What drove that growth was an injection of new buyers into the market, many of which were trainers or end users, looking to purchase horses to race after a succession of yearling sales which have provided their own record results, and proven difficult for buyers to source stock.

Of the record 12 horses that sold for $500,000 or more, nine were explicitly purchased to enter a training program and are unlikely to pinhooked through the 2022 yearling season.

Barry Bowditch | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

It's a trend that Bowditch only sees continuing and something which could underwrite the future success of the Sale.

"It’s a new dimension to the Sale, and I think going forward you will see a lot more of it. I think with end users now at the Sale and here supporting the high and middle end, it will give vendors the impetus to keep bringing the better horses to the Sale and they can come here with confidence that the result they can achieve here can be extraordinary," he said.

Fung to the fore

Tony Fung Investments, which is managed by Shane McGrath, was the biggest buyer at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale in January, and was again the fore at the National Sale, buying three foals, including the top lot from Friday, a colt by I Am Invincible offered by Kitchwin Hills.

Lot 339, the first foal from Group 3 winner and Group 1-placed Elicazoom (Testa Rossa), was secured for $625,000.

"He's a lovely colt, he is obviously by a serious sire in I Am Invincible. Being a first foal, we really liked him, he had plenty of size and scope. She was a very good racemare herself. She probably could have won the William Reid and been a Group 1 winner," McGrath said of the colt.

"He's got size, substance and comes off a great farm. We have had a lot of luck buying horses off Kitchwin. They do a great job and he was well presented. He made his money, but he was a proper colt."

Sally Williams and Shane McGrath | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Like the colts by Extreme Choice (Lot 45) and Exceed And Excel (Lot 65) purchased on Thursday, he will enter Fung's racing program to be prepared for a career on the track.

"He’ll go back to the farm, we will grow him out and he’ll go into the program. He’ll go into the same rearing program as any young horse, but rather than going through the yearling sales process, he will join the breaking-in program in January and we look forward to seeing what he's like this time next year," McGrath said.

"He’ll (Lot 339) go into the same rearing program as any young horse, but rather than going through the yearling sales process, he will join the breaking-in program in January and we look forward to seeing what he's like this time next year." - Shane McGrath

Kitchwin Hills' Mick Malone said the I Am Invincible colt had made an impression from the moment he was foaled on the farm on September 1 last year.

"He's a lovely horse. You come to these weanling sales and he was a horse that was probably going to end up at a racing stable not so much a pinhook," he said.

"She's a beautiful mare and has done such a terrific job, She's been terrific for us. We bought her from Western Australia, and brought her over here and she won a couple of races for us and was Group 1-placed. We bred her to Vinnie and here we are. It was a super result.

"We had a video of him as a young foal galloping through the paddock. It was unbelievable. He had this amazing presence from the day he was born. He really just stood out on the farm."

Kitchwin Hills ended up selling 12 horses for a total of $1.683 million in what Malone described as a brilliant couple of days of selling.

"We have had an amazing week. Full credit to Magic Millions, they have done a terrific job and all the buyers are here. It’s such an amazing place to be, Australia at the moment, isn't it? A lot of parts of the world are crippled by COVID and here we are buying horses like we would buy houses.

"We brought a couple of Capitalists here and they have sold really well and we brought that colt as well. I felt the market was going to be a bit like this off the back of the yearling sales, they often want to tip into these weanling sales."

Maher backs up for son of Zoustar

Ciaron Maher Racing created history on Thursday when it purchased just the second ever seven-figure weanling at an Australian sale, a colt by I Am Invincible, and the leading stable was back in the thick of the action on Friday, paying $560,000 for Lot 362, a colt by Zoustar out of stakes winner and multiple Group 1-placegetter Fundamentalist (Not A Single Doubt).

The first foal from the mare was offered on behalf of her owners at Aquis by Segenhoe Stud and immediately got on the radar of Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace.

Lot 362 - Zoustar x Fundamentalist (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"He is out of a really tough racemare in Fundamentalist. She was a sparring partner for The Autumn Sun, who nabbed her in the JJ Atkins and then again in the Randwick Guineas. She's a daughter of Not A Single Doubt, who is a stallion that I love and have had a lot of success with," Maher said.

"I've bought a lot out of Not A Single Doubt mares. Amish Boy who is racing at the moment, he was third in the Newmarket H. I've had colts like Anders, by Not A Single Doubt, who is now set to go to stud himself.

"Zoustar is flying at the moment. I was prepared to go a little bit longer on him, so I was rapt to get him."

"Zoustar is flying at the moment. I was prepared to go a little bit longer on him (Lot 362), so I was rapt to get him." - Ciaron Maher

Maher's prominent presence was a further indication of the changing nature of the National Weanling Sale's buying bench and he plans to be back bidding for elite foal prospects again in 2022.

"You can grow them out and don't have to worry about the yearling preparation. You can concentrate solely on being a racehorse. You can break them in early, get them in the system. I'm pretty pleased to get him for that price," he said.

Segenhoe Stud General Manager Peter O'Brien, who has overseen the development of the Zoustar colt since he was foaled on the farm, hailed a significant result.

Peter O'Brien | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

“He is a beautiful animal. He is actually all Not A Single Doubt. He looked like a Not A Single Doubt. He wasn’t a big horse, but he has a big action, plenty of quality, a big hip and he looked a real racehorse," he said.

“For pinhooking, he looks like an ideal Magic Millions horse but Ciaron’s obviously bought him to race. Ciaron’s a terrific judge, as we know, and the things he loves is a big action and nice width between his hind legs when he walks and this horse had everything. I think James Harron was underbidder, which says everything."

"Ciaron’s a terrific judge, as we know, and the things he loves is a big action and nice width between his hind legs when he walks and this horse (Lot 362) had everything. I think James Harron was underbidder, which says everything." - Peter O'Brien

With $2.624 million in sales, Segenhoe Stud was the third biggest vendor on gross for the week, behind only the Shadwell Dispersal ($5,4 million) and Woodside Park ($2.845 million) and O'Brien noted the change on buyer behaviour.

“The big difference at this Sale is all the end user buyers. For pinhookers, they have a value on what a horse can make as a yearling but end users are looking at what a horse can make as a yearling and then thinking they’re getting them cheap. That’s what seems to be happening. There are a lot of high-priced foals going to end users," O'Brien said.

“I just wish I had more foals here, but yes, I can see the strategy. The yearling sales are through the roof and a lot of people missed out on high-priced horses and they’ve come in and picked the best of the best here and in their mind got value."

Frankel filly takes Mackenzie's eye

The increased diversity of the buying bench was perhaps best reflected by the buyer of the second day's top filly, Lot 387, by Frankel (GB), who was offered by Coolmore Stud.

Bruce Mackenzie may be 83 next month, but he too was keen to get in on the weanling market, and paid $530,000 for the filly, who is out of the stakes placegetter Iiex Excelsia (Ire) (Excelebration {GB}), the half-sister to Group/Graded winners Gibraltar Blue (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) and Scream Blue Murder (Ire) (Oratorio {Ire}).

“You get what you pay for. I didn’t pay $15,000 for her like some of them. She has residual value and all she’s got to do is win one race in Sydney and she’s worth double that, especially if it’s a stakes race," Mackenzie said.

“You only have to look at her - and she has the page. She was one of the nicest fillies here, I thought. She’s the same as that Zoustar filly I bought in Sydney (at the Classic Sale)."

Lot 387 - Frankel (GB) x Iiex Excelsia (Ire) (filly) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Mackenzie may have acted early to secure the internationally bred filly, but he will not rush her to the racetrack, with a view to her long-term value.

“I have never raced a 2-year-old in my life and I never will. Vets make a fortune out of looking after 2-year-olds. You ask a vet what their best business is with racehorses and they will tell you it’s 2-year-olds," he said.

“She will get (patience) with me. She won’t get broken in until this time next year. She will be handled and looked after. When I take her home tonight she will munch in the paddock, have two weeks in the stable, on the walker, back out."

A few minutes earlier, it was Rosemont Stud going to $510,000 to secure a Lot 383, a Written Tycoon colt from Woodside Park.

He is the second foal out of the Listed winning Not A Single Doubt mare, Hell Or Highwater, who herself is out of a stakes winner in Get Ready Bertie (USA) (More Than Ready {USA}).

Lot 383 - Written Tycoon x Hell Or Highwater (colt) | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

"He was very nice colt. We ranked him almost the best physical colt around the place. He's got such strength, he's got a hindquarter like a bus on him. He was a beautiful colt. We are pretty excited by him," Rosemont Principal, Anthony Mithen, said.

That colt was the top-priced weanling of the 18 progeny of Written Tycoon offered by Woodside Park at the Sale. Those 18 horses secured $2.845 million at an average of $158,046.

Flanagan signs for a So You Think

Coolmore's Mick Flanagan got his name on the buyer's sheet when paying $475,000 for Lot 285, a So You Think (NZ) colt offered by Erinvale Thoroughbreds.

The half-brother to Group 2 winner Reelem In Ruby (Pierro) is likely to be re-offered through the yearling sales in 2022.

"He was a standout colt. He's been a standout since we got here. He's a good-moving horse, obviously by a very, very good stallion, who is going to get better as the years go by, A very good colt, we were very strong on him, and very happy to buy him," Flanagan, who holds the position as International Sales with Coolmore, said.

"He has good size, good strength and he has great depth and a great action, Conformationally, he is very straightforward. He's going to be an easy horse to mind we hope. He came highly recommended by John Kenneally, who we get on well with and have done a lot of business with over the years. He's just a horse that we just had to have."

Erinvale's Kenneally, who paid US$20,000 (AU$25,820) for the colt's dam Bobine (USA) (Giant's Causeway {USA}) at the 2011 Keeneland November Breeding Sale, was understandably pleased with the result.

“From the time he was born he was a fantastic looking animal and I always thought we’d target this Sale with him. We try to bring the best foals here and he sold accordingly. He made a bit more than what I thought (he would), but he was extremely popular all week," he said.

"He’s the busiest horse I’ve ever had at a Sale - everyone loved him. He made a bit more than I thought, so it’s fantastic."

A momentous market shift

Bowditch feels that the success of this year's National Weanling Sale paints a bright future for the Sale moving forward, after a substantial shift in the market.

"We want to continue to grow our weanling market. We think it’s always been a strong market for Magic Millions. This year it has gone to a whole new level. We could have sold plenty more horses than we had catalogued here and there was a lot of demand," he said.

"There are a lot of frustrated pinhookers out there that weren't getting in and buying the horses they need to. When you have frustrated buyers, it means that you have delighted vendors and with that, you would expect they would continue to support this Sale with gusto going forward."

But Bowditch is not overly concerned that the volume of end users looking purchase through the foal sales may have a detrimental impact on demand at the 2022 yearling sales season.

"I think the yearling market has been quite extraordinary this year. It’s probably as good as it has even been in Australia," he said.

"I just think they are taking the opportunity. They have clients that are out there that are willing to spend money and maybe it's money left over from the yearling sales. When you are selling the likes of Pierro, Zoustar and Stay Inside from a Sale, it's a great marketing ploy to say, you should be paying attention. You can get into the market now, grow them out and you could be buying the next one."

Attention now turns to the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, which starts at 10am AEST on Tuesday.

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
339I Am Invincible Ellicazoom CKitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW (As Agent)Tony Fung InvestmentsQLD$625,000
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 DayCSegenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW (As Agent)Rosemont Stud/Bahen BloodstockVIC$600,000
362Zoustar Fundamentalist CSegenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW (As Agent)Ciaron Maher BloodstockVIC$560,000
65Exceed And Excel Nomothaj CShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Tony Fung InvestmentsQLD$550,000
77Zoustar Enbihaar FShadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW (As Agent)Bahen BloodstockHONG KONG$550,000
387FrankelIiex Excelsa FCoolmore Stud, Jerry's Plains, NSW (As Agent)Bruce MackenzieNSW$530,000

Top buyers

Ciaron Maher Bloodstock3$1,760,000$586,667$1,000,000
Tony Fung Investments3$1,385,000$461,667$625,000
Bahen Bloodstock5$1,380,000$276,000$550,000
Rosemont Stud/Bahen Bloodstock2$1,300,000$650,000$700,000
Fernrigg Farm5$1,210,000$242,000$340,000
Sledmere Stud/Cangon Pty Ltd8$851,000$106,375$280,000
Rosemont Stud2$820,000$410,000$510,000
Silverdale Farm/Andrew Williams Bloodstock3$810,000$270,000$350,000
Mitchell Bloodstock (FBAA)2$760,000$380,000$600,000
Jim Carey4$663,000$165,750$350,000

Top vendors by aggregate

Shadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW20$5,435,000$271,750$700,000
Woodside Park Stud, Nagambie, Vic18$2,845,000$158,056$510,000
Segenhoe Stud, Scone, NSW19$2,624,500$138,132$600,000
Gilgai Farm, Nagambie, Vic8$2,500,000$312,500$1,000,000
Kitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW12$1,683,000$140,250$625,000
Erinvale Thoroughbreds, Buckley, Vic8$1,357,500$169,688$475,000
Burnewang North Pastoral Pty Ltd, Rochester, Vic7$1,150,000$164,286$310,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerry's Plains, NSW7$1,135,000$162,143$530,000
Glastonbury Farms, Scone, NSW14$984,500$70,321$200,000
Kenmore Lodge, Wyreema, Qld7$919,000$131,286$360,000

Top vendors by average (3 or more sold)

Gilgai Farm, Nagambie, Vic8$312,500$2,500,000$1,000,000
Shadwell Stud Australasia Unreserved Dispersal (Prepared by Yarraman Park), Scone, NSW20$271,750$5,435,000$700,000
Three Bridges Thoroughbreds, Eddington, Vic4$182,500$730,000$330,000
Erinvale Thoroughbreds, Buckley, Vic8$169,688$1,357,500$475,000
Burnewang North Pastoral Pty Ltd, Rochester, Vic7$164,286$1,150,000$310,000
Rothwell Park Thoroughbreds, Blandford, NSW3$163,333$490,000$250,000
Coolmore Stud, Jerry's Plains, NSW7$162,143$1,135,000$530,000
Woodside Park Stud, Nagambie, Vic18$158,056$2,845,000$510,000
Lime Country Thoroughbreds, Burradoo, NSW3$143,333$430,000$200,000
Kitchwin Hills, Scone, NSW12$140,250$1,683,000$625,000

Top sires by aggregate

Written Tycoon 23$3,680,000$160,000$510,000
I Am Invincible 7$3,450,000$492,857$1,000,000
Zoustar 8$2,785,000$348,125$700,000
Capitalist 11$1,545,000$140,455$375,000
Extreme Choice 4$1,240,000$310,000$650,000
The Autumn Sun 5$1,060,000$212,000$360,000
Exceed And Excel 3$1,030,000$343,333$550,000
Deep Field 8$980,000$122,500$250,000
So You Think 5$960,000$192,000$475,000
Fastnet Rock 2$850,000$425,000$600,000

Top sires by average (3 or more sold)

I Am Invincible7$492,857$3,450,000$1,000,000
Zoustar 8$348,125$2,785,000$700,000
Exceed And Excel 3$343,333$1,030,000$550,000
Extreme Choice4$310,000$1,240,000$650,000
The Autumn Sun 5$212,000$1,060,000$360,000
So You Think5$192,000$960,000$475,000
Impending 3$190,000$570,000$200,000
Justify 4$182,500$730,000$300,000
Written Tycoon 23$160,000$3,680,000$510,000
Street Boss 3$151,667$455,000$240,000
Magic Millions National Weanling Sale
Zoustar
I Am Invincible
Ciaron Maher
Bruce Mackenzie
Frankel
So You Think
Kitchwin Hills