A Magic Time Of Year Down Under

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Gai Waterhouse and Marette Farrell at Magic Millions | Magic Millions photo

By Gai Waterhouse

Magic Millions has been the name on everyone’s lips over the holiday season and as we look towards the New Year and Inglis’s Classic Sale, Premier Sale and Easter Sale, as well as the Golden Slipper build-up and the race itself, there is plenty of excitement around the corner.

The most interesting thing about the first yearling sale of the year, Magic Millions, was the massive influx of American buyers. With the Aussie dollar being down, American owners and breeders have taken up the running in looking for value in horse flesh. Marette Farrell, Dermot Farrington, John Moynihan and Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables, S.F. Bloodstock and Newgate Farm and B. Wayne Hughes were all raising their hands for some of the best Australian-bred yearlings in the world.

Australian-bred horses are attractive to many for numerous reasons. In the Southern Hemisphere, specifically in Australia, there is an enormous amount of sunshine throughout the year and great fodder. The foals have enormous bone density, size and bulk that is often not seen anywhere else in the world. Also, and most importantly in this day and age of drug free racing, there is a policy where no yearling, or any horse for that matter, may be treated with anabolic steroids. With an almost drug-free racing policy throughout the country, horses race on their merits and in turn we are breeding tougher, sounder stock.

I think most newcomers to the coast were surprised at how much enjoyment they had spending their American dollars. The climate, the sale complex, the friendly Magic Millions staff and the general holiday feel make a trip to the Magic Millions one of the greatest yearling sale experiences in the world.

The spring in Sydney is a very important time for every trainer. Obviously we all want to win the Golden Slipper, as those horses become very valuable as future breeding prospects, but the spring is not only about one race. With 21 Group 1 races run over a nine-week period, the lives of many racehorse owners and trainers are changed. As I look out at my team at track work and around the stables I couldn’t be happier with the way they are shaping up. I have a lovely group of up-and-coming 2-year-olds and of the older horses, Group 1 winners Pornichet (Fr) (Vespone {Ire}) and Speak Fondly (Aus) (Northern Meteor {Aus}), and stakes performers English (Aus) (Encosta de Lago {Aus}), Raphael’s Cat (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), Excess Knowledge (GB) (Monsun {Ger}), Kimberley Star (Aus) (Star Witness {Aus}),

Bohemian Lily (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}), Supara (Aus) (Domesday {Aus}), Zoutenant (Aus) (Zizou {Aus}) and Ecuador (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) are all coming up a treat.

It would be remiss of me not to mention my champion 2-year- old, Vancouver (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro), who departed my stable last week in preparation to board a flight to Ireland to begin the next phase of his career as a member of the great Ballydoyle Stable, under the watchful eye of Aidan O’Brien. Here he will be put through his paces in readiness for Royal Ascot in June. Vancouver is the most electrifying, precocious colt I have ever trained. He has pure speed, and the looks to match, a kind disposition and a remarkably fluid action. He has every quality I look for in a racehorse and I can assure you that as the Golden Slipper gets ever nearer, some of these qualities have begun to emerge in my young charges. Bring on the spring.

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