Bidding for that one in a millions
A room packed with buyers, agents and trainers from all over the world was stopped in its tracks by a trainer from Warwick Farm who paid $1.9 million for a brown colt at the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast on Thursday.
Castelvecchio trainer Richard Litt bought the yearling for owner Ottavio Galletta on the second day of the sales that have attracted national and international buyers to Queensland.
"I am very happy," Litt said after splurging on the son of champion Deep Impact, who died in July.
"Obviously, they don't make them any more and he has outstanding pedigree."
Among those at tables around the sale ring were buyers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the US.
The Queen's racing manager John Warren said: "This is an international market and with the world getting smaller and the great success of Australian horses in the northern hemisphere, it is important for us in Europe to be aware of the trends in this market."
Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said: "The room is filled with domestic breeders, agents, trainers, syndicates and international investors. We have a big contingent from Asia because Australia is very accessible to them and many have invested in farms over here. Plus I think they like the Gold Coast."
Trainer Gerald Ryan spent $1.1 million yesterday on a bay colt by Redoute's Choice for a Chinese investor. Irish stud Coolmore, which now has a major Australian operation, also paid $1.1 million for a yearling on the first day of the sales.
Watching the sales ring carefully were representatives from Yoshida's Northern Farm in Japan, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the China Horse Club and Spendthrift Farm from Kentucky in the US.
"The quality of the horses is very good and the diversity of the buying bench is outstanding. It is a very positive sign for the quality of Australian bloodstock," said Vin Cox, managing director of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai's Godolphin operation in Australia:
Other familiar faces around the sales ring included former England rugby star Mike Tindall, with his wife Zara, the Queen's granddaughter, who saw a horse in his syndicate sell for $650,000.
NRL legend and horse breeder Billy Slater was inspecting the young horses in the stables and weighing up his options for next year.
"We have a Redoubts Choice foal on the ground and we have got to weigh up our options on whether we put her in the ring or race her," he said.
Former cricket star Mark Waugh was with trainer wife Kim while broadcaster Alan Jones sat with Arrowfield boss and close mate John Messara.
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne was looking for fresh blood for her training operation. The carnival culminates with a $10 million race day tomorrow with bonus prizemoney for horses owned by women.
Jess Bott, wife of Gai Waterhouse's training partner Adrian, had already bought two horses for syndication to all-women owners. "The first one is already fully subscribed, which just goes to show the passion for horseracing among women in Australia."