By Ric Chapman
This time last year, the owners of Magic Millions were doing cartwheels as records were being broken left, right, and center. No-one actually saw it, but rumor has it those same owners were down on their hands and knees giving thanks this year as day four of the Conrad Jupiters Magic Millions yearling sale on the Gold Coast in Australia concluded Jan. 9.
Simply because, despite cataloguing 10 less horses, records again were shattered. Not bettered, shattered with $3.3 million more than the gross from last year.
Danehill's last Magic Millions crop helped enormously. In fact for the fourth day running the deceased superstar of the southern hemisphere topped the day and naturally the sale when his best was produced here fetching $950,000. And, it was bought by Demi O'Byrne for Coolmore.
It was not a Coolmore consigned colt, coming instead from the draft of Strawberry Hills Stud.
"He was by far the best Danehill at the sale and he will stay in Australia and race and hopefully turn into a stallion for us," said O'Byrne.
The sale topper was a bay, like all great Danehills, and he was from the English winning Diesis mare Silken Whisper, who was brought to Australia in foal to Danehill.
Silken Whisper's dam is the multiple U.S. stakes winner Yaguda, by Green Dancer. There's an awful lot of black type on this page and if this colt can run, once again Coolmore would have scooped the pool.
Michael Kirwin, Coolmore's general manager in Australia, recognized his horse's contribution to the sale but kept it in perspective. "Two things have come out of this sale for him (Danehill). One, this average of $475,400 for his yerarlings here was the biggest he has ever achieved at any sale in the world. And two, that is because these are the last ones at this sale ever and people probably paid a little more than they deserved as a result."
There is wide-spread speculatation about just which stallion will eventually step up and take the great sire's place once this his final crop of runners finally leave the racetracks. Encosta de Lago, Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant's Causeway (all Coolmore horses) or Redoute's Choice, an Arrowfield star who is a son of Danehill.
As day four concluded Encosta de Lago produced a handsome, beautifully put together colt who sold for $620,000, a clear indication of just how good buyers think he will become as a sire in time. But this price for this colt proved an unbelievable windfall for his vendor Greendale Lodge, who was producing its first horse at a public auction ever.
Tony Thomas, a clever businessman and part-time breeder, bought the colt from the Collingrove draft as a weanling for just $80,000 and gave it to his son, David, who had just gone out on his own at Greendale, to prepare.
"It sure as hell is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick," said Thomas Sr. of the result. The colt is from the mare Social Scene (Grand Lodge) who was a winner in the city as a 2-year-old and whose previous foal, a 3-year-old by Danehill, has shown unlimited ability in just two starts to date.
Hong Kong trainer Ivan Allen was the underbidder.
Adam Sangster of Collingrove sat stunned at the price. While obviously happy for the new vendors, the Collingrove pain was further heightened when he revealled, "Ben my brother owned this colt's mother but just last year sold her. But good luck to all of them concerned. He grew into a wonderful colt.
As did the entire sale.
It was like a snowball going down a hill, getting better, and bigger as each day passed. The new stars who were very appealing to buyers included home grown stallions: Show A Heart (by Brave Heart) with his debut crop averaging around $180,000 off a $12,000 fee; Testa Rossa (Perugino) whose average was the same off a $20,000 fee; and Iglesia (Last Tycoon) $135,000 off a $6,000 fee.
Sessions five and six continue Jan. 11 and 12. These are select sessions but invariably produce quality lots.
Overall gross for the premier sessions ended at $63.4 million with a massive 86% clearance rate.
(for premier sessions; ranked by gross)
$5,410,000 - Graeme Rogerson - 31 lots, $2,765,000
Gai Waterhouse - 16 lots, $2,515,000
Charles Laird - 12 lots, $2,215,000
Tim Martin (NSW) - 10 lots, $1,895,000
Dynamic Syndications - 14 lots, $1,715,000
Tim Stakemire - 7 lots, $1,545,000
Moraitis Holdings - 8, lots$1,497,500
Rob McAnulty - 8 lots, $1,245,000
Bart Cummings - 6 lots, $1,180,000
Rick Hore-Lacy - 7 lots, $1,155,000
Magic Millions as agent - 6 lots, $1,125,000
Gerald Ryan - 9 lots. $1,075,000
Mark Pilkington Bloodstock - 12 lots, $1,015,000