The sale where money changes pockets rather than hands
John Schell - SMH
January 12, 2009
WELCOME to "Rortsville", better known as the Magic Millions sale. An extravaganza where million-dollar babies make headlines. But does money really change hands?
"This is a good walking colt," screams the auctioneer as a juvenile enters the ring.
Good walker. Please. Aren't thoroughbreds supposed to run?
At $2 million for the sale-topping Encosta De Lago colt you'd want a really fast horse. Or would you?
"This colt has a real stallion's pedigree," is another catchcry. "You've bought yourself a nice colt there."
Over the past five days, 885 yearlings were catalogued for sale at the Gold Coast.
Gai Waterhouse will train the $2m colt as well as a $1m Redoute's Choice colt. A $1.2m Redoute's Choice-Kapchat colt will go to the stables of David Hayes while he will also train a $1.1m colt by the same super stallion.
Those high prices look great in the sale statistics. They bump up the average and tell us what a success it's been despite the global economic crisis.
Great things happen at Rortsville.
And just who will race the $2m baby that is a brother to champion Sydneysider Racing To Win? Surely not worldwide breeding giant Coolmore Stud, which offered the colt for sale?
Of course it will. The Coolmore crew indicated it would keep part of the colt to race then breed with him. The remaining shares, however many, will be on-sold at the inflated sale price of $2m.
Take a look at the $1m Redoute's Choice-Strawberry Girl colt. Another with "a stallion's pedigree".
He was sold on account of Strawberry Hill Stud. That is the stud of advertising boss John Singleton, who is a part-owner of Magic Millions.
Singo has always been a great supporter of his own sale. Sells plenty of horses but buys plenty back. Don't be surprised if this one graces the track under the ownership of John Singleton and friends. He could even win next year's Magic Millions Classic sporting Singo's silks.
What about Hayes's $1.2m purchase. What a lovely looking colt he was. Well worth the money. What money?
The horse, offered by Widden Stud, was purchased as a weanling for around $620,000 by Peter Devitt and Les Gordon. After Hayes was announced as its trainer, who do you think he said he would prepare it for? Peter Devitt and Les Gordon. Yet another buy back.
There's nothing illegal or wrong with buying a horse back that you've offered for sale. But to most people the practice may seem to be aimed at obtaining the greatest benefit while remaining inside the law - Rortsville. Just be open about it.
(Finally, the truth about the Magic Millions!)