28 January 2010, Written by Tom Reid


THE final day of the 2010 BMW Magic Millions yearling auctions has been labelled a positive litmus test for the southern hemisphere’s racing season.

With total revenues smashing expectations of the originally forecast $70 million by $5million this afternoon, last year’s total sales of $74.8m have been left well and truly in the dust.

While the top selling horse fell under the hammer at $925,000 (BC3); just short of the magic $1 million mark, event managing director and head auctioneer David Chester says a clearance rate of 82 per cent has thoroughbred breeders breathing a sigh of relief.

“What the high clearance rate means is that they don’t have to take too many horses home, the vendors wanted to sell and there were plenty of buyers around,” says Chester.

“Nobody knew what to expect with the pretty ordinary economy and we were pretty worried beforehand. As the first sales of the southern hemisphere season, had it not gone well there would have been a flow-on effect to the rest of the country and New Zealand. But the sales turned out a lot better than we expected.”

With major international players like the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Charles Laird and Aussie Gai Waterhouse buying big, it seems turning the event into a political football didn’t phase trading. In fact Chester believes it may have spurred confidence among buyers.

On the opening day of sales Magic Millions co-owners Gerry Harvey and John Singleton took a swipe at the State Government for allegedly under appreciating the economic contribution the event has to Queensland.

Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading Peter Lawlor responded by confirming the State Government will ‘consider a multi-million dollar deal for the Queensland Racing Industry’ and two days later Queensland Racing chairman Bob Bentley stated he would hold a meeting with Gold Coast Turf Club chairman Andrew Eggleston regarding the future of the club.

Chester concedes the episode was ‘a slight diversion’ but had no detrimental effect on this years’ event.

“If anything it was probably a good thing having the event splashed on all the front pages of the news,” he says.

“It probably brought more confidence to the buyers, thinking something is going to happen and then the government said it would inject some funds into the industry.

“We’ve been going for 25 years and nothing has changed. I’d say Gerry and ‘Singo’ were just saying that we’ve got to take it to the next level.”

Author: Tom Reid





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