By Ric Chapman
Yes, a Magic Millions record was broken Tuesday during the opening session of the three-day Adelaide Magic Millions yearling sale in Australia. But reader beware -- this was a hard sell sale.
Every vendor came here hoping for the best following unrivalled yearling sales across the globe over the past 20 months, but the auctioneers worked themselves to a lather enticing bids just about all afternoon. That actually wasn't hard as it was 40 degrees centigrade (103 Fahrenheit), which made for an even longer day.
Still, when Lot 126 arrived in the ring and the opening bid was $100,000, everyone forgot about the heat wave and looked hard and long at what was to unfold. But Lot 126 was much like the others in terms of slow bidding -- he was in the ring for five full minutes. It seemed extracting bids was like pulling teeth. At Aus$280,000 the attractive son of Encosta de Lago and the group I-producing mare Lady Violet, found an underbidder.
Rod Menzies, who owns the Menzies Group (a business with diversified interests with an annual turnover of Aus$250 million), jumped in.
"I buy a horse every year for my Adelaide trainer Joe Hall," Menzies said, "and I thought this colt was the best in the sale. And so did Joe. But unfortunately those other boys thought so, too, and they weren't going to stop. I had already reached 100% over budget on what I was prepared to pay for him."
The colt, a strapping gray fellow, went to the bid of Coolmore Australia's general manager Michael Kirwin, who had a phone to his ear the whole time.
"I bought him for trainer Paul Perry," Kirwin said. "He knows the family having trained this colt's half-brother to a group I win. So I was buying it for him and his clients. No one from Coolmore will be in this colt ... but he is a lovely individual."
The Aus$300,000 Perry paid through Kirwin shattered the previous highest Magic Millions Adelaide sale record. The colt's half-brother is Aus$808,000 earner and former group I sprinter Notoire (by Export Price).
Perry, the man who puts the polish on the most expensive galloper in Australia, recent group I Lightning Stakes winner Fastnet Rock (Danehill -- Piccadilly Circus), for the Coolmore boys, outbid a number of others – all of whom helped by increasing the auction by Aus$10,000 increments.
Fastnet Rock is a massive runner with blue blood and is valued already at Aus$10 million. Kirwan said: "This colt isn't dissimilar. Both are big and strong, and this colt has an impressive pedigree to back up his good looks."
Kirwin also said he wasn't surprised he'd have to go to a record price on behalf of Perry to secure the colt.
"You have to expect to pay big money for these sorts of horses," Kirwin added. "After all, he is a half-brother to a group I winner."
And a lot better bred than his esteemed half-brother too. The dam of the youngster, the Melbourne-winning Old Crony mare Lady Violet, is responsible for another five winners including the multiple Sydney stakes winner Well Known (by The Pug).
The previous Adelaide yearling sale record price was the Aus$255,000 paid for a Zabeel half-brother to Happy Giggle during last year's auction.
Two other highlights were the brown colt offered by Rangal Park Stud by Encosta de Lago (currently Australia's most expensive stallion at Aus$125,000) from the winning Vain mare Fair Contessa. He fetched Aus$210,000, while the shock was the Aus$230,000 paid by astute trainer Leon McDonald for a Gilded Time -- My Madonna (by Prego) colt. He was a huge individual, and walked nicely, but he looked like a well-grown 2 year-old. He also has a celebrated half-brother in group III winner and group 1-placed Blessum (by Umatilla).
Day two of the three-day sale is scheduled for Wednesday.