Champion horse trainer Gai Waterhouse completely stunned everyone in the packed auditorium when she opened and closed the bidding on a Sadler's Wells colt at Aust$2million (U.S. $1,560,000) as session two of the Conrad Jupiters Magic Millions yearling sale in Australia ended on Friday.
Everyone expected the colt, a great looking specimen offered by John Singleton and from a group I-winning mare by Sunday Silence, to be popular. But the Aust$2 million first bid caused everyone to take a big and audible breath.
It was a Magic Millions record and further emphasized the fact Magic Millions is fast approaching the Inglis Easter sale as Australia's premier yearling auction. Two years ago, an impressive 4% of all horses sold at Magic Millions in January became stakes performers.
But back to Gai. "I bought him for a group of clients," she said, not wanting to actually name any of them. "But I have kept a good chunk of him myself so we are very excited to have landed him."
The dam of the colt, Sunday Joy, was trained to group I victory by Gai, who also in 2001 stopped everyone in their tracks by purchasing her with just one bid of Aust$1 million, a then Magic Millions record.
So many similarities there and it is believed although not confirmed as yet, that Singleton will be one of the partners in this new colt.
The record price for a filly sold at the Magic Millions yearling sale was smashed on day two as well, making it the most successful day's trading in Magic Millions history.
Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation bought the full-sister to group I winner Snitzel (Redoute's Choice -- Snippet's Lass. by Snippets) for Aust$1.4 million. Darley's Australian manager, Oliver Tait, trumped Wadham Park's Dale Sutton to secure the beautifully bred filly and send the massive audience into a spin. Tait was acting on advice of John Ferguson, who had inspected the filly and given Tait instructions from Sheikh Mohammed to buy her.
Bred by Queensland prawn "farmer" Francois Naude, the filly attracted an opening bid of Aust$500,000, but the figure quickly rose into seven figures when Tait and Sutton went head to head for the prized lot.
"It's a great thrill," Naude said. "Ecstatic. I have only one broodmare and it is Snippet's Lass, so naturally I'm over the moon."
Naude is a South African native who now lives in Australia. He made his fortune as the managing director of Coral Sea Farms Australia, which grows and sells prawns.
"I would have been delighted with a million - but Aust$1.4 million is just brilliant," the former South African said.
The filly beat the previous record price for a filly set by Sunday Silence's group I-winning daughter Sunday Joy in 2001, as mentioned.
Tait, nervous but in control, was thrilled to have landed the one horse in the sale his boss wanted.
"The sale has been really strong and she is one of the fillies of the sale," Tait said. "She isn't very big, but she's a lovely filly. And she's a sister to one of Redoute's Choice's best ever colts."
Tait said the sale price of Aust $1.4 million was "about" where he and the remainder of the Darley team had valued her.
"Sheikh Mohammed was very keen to get her," he said.
Anthony Cummings quietly chipped away to win the bidding for the Tale of The Cat -- Surrealist colt spending Aust$625,000. It is a significant buy as Cummings, son of the legendary trainer Bart Cummings, is regarded a great judge and he currently trains two of Australia's top five juveniles.
"I do not think I will have any trouble selling shares into this fellow," Anthony Cummings said. The colt is a half-brother to Australia's current best racehorse Racing To Win.
The sale average is up to Aust$195,000 now.
Over 6000 people turned up to watch the action, a great crowd considering it was conducted in 95-degree heat.