IT comes under the category ‘wouldn’t it be nice’!
Question: Would Australian Racing Hall of Fame horse trainer Gai Waterhouse buy a yearling offered at Magic Millions by former employee and probable future Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame player Billy Slater?
Recently retired rugby league champion Billy Slater – who began his stellar career in North Queensland – had two debut roles at this year’s Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast. One was as a MM ambassador which saw him heavily involved in carnival festivities – the other as a vendor in partnership with wife Nicole.
Ambassadorial roles included playing polo with Nicole and racing horses down the Surfers Paradise beach-front before the MM barrier draw for the 2YO Classic and 3YO Guineas.
He has the form credentials – most recently in 2016 when Racing Queensland appointed him as a racing ambassador for all three codes in a state-wide campaign to increase awareness of Queensland’s racing industry and appeal to a wider audience of fans.
Earlier in 2014, Slater, Nicole and children Tyla and Jake, were appointed as family ambassadors for ‘Relaxed Racing’ – a joint campaign between Racing Victoria, the Melbourne Racing Club and Country Racing Victoria – and a year later he was appointed as a Victorian Racehorse Owners Ambassador to promote Thoroughbred racehorse ownership in Victoria.
As a first time Magic Millions vendor with Nicole, the Slaters listed a colt by Wandjima from the thrice winning Encosta de Lago mare Inishowen prepared at Woodside Park Stud, Tylden, Victoria. A dual winner at Flemington when trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman, Inishowen cost $135,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions National Broodmare sale in foal to Wandjima.
There was much media hype about how great it would be if major Magic Millions buyer Gai Waterhouse would buy the colt. After all, Slater worked for several months as a track rider for Gai Waterhouse at her Randwick stables. "Waking up at 3am every day to go to work and then return in the afternoon was tough, but it taught me a strong worth ethic and also great discipline. I was only 16 at the time!" Slater said.
One of many stable stars for Gai Waterhouse was Group 1 VRC Australian Guineas winner Wandjina – sire of the Slater family’s first offering at the Magic Millions yearling sale.
The hype was to no avail! While Waterhouse and co-trainer Adrian Bott finished the sale as top buyers spending $6.64 million, Salter’s colt was missing from their list of 24 purchases. Instead, the Melbourne-based Slater family may get visiting rights to the colt who was bought for $180,000 by Melbourne trainer Ciaron Maher who – with co-trainer David Eustace – prepared this year’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic runner-up Dubious. Maher was also a bulk buyer with 19 lots costing $4.57 million.
Realising that he was always too big to a jockey, Slater believes he’s been very lucky to follow his two passions – rugby league and horse racing. His love for rugby league comes from his father Ron who played and coached local rugby league while his grandfather William Slater, after whom Billy is named, was a boxer and a stockman who fostered Billy’s love of horses. In addition to competing in pony club events at Innisfail where he met his future wife Nicole, Slater’s first job was as a stable-hand at the Innisfail racetrack when he was 12 years old and earned $10 a week.
Northern buyers prominent
FORMER Mt Isa earth moving contractors Graham and Linda Huddy and Central Queensland graziers Alan and Jennifer Acton were prominent buyers at this month’s Magic Millions yearling sale.
Now based at Peachester Lodge near Caboolture, the Huddys bought three lots including a Not A Single Doubt/Hussy By Choice filly offered by Mill Park Stud for $725,000 and a sister to last year’s Golden Slipper winner Estijaab (Snitzel/ Response) offered by Arrowfield Stud for $575,000.
Magic Millions has been a happy hunting ground for the Huddys buying horses of the calibre of multiple Group 1 winner Shoot Out who cost $15,000 and earned $3.2 million and Group 3 winner Most Important who cost $260,000 and has won more than $1.4 million to date.
Not A Single Doubt also sired the Actons’ sole purchase – a filly from the Group 3 winner Sookie sold by Newgate Fam for $550,000. Long time racing stalwarts based at Wilpeena near Dingo in Central Queensland, the Actons have been regular Magic Millions attendees and buyers since the concept started in1986.
Two years ago they paid $210,000 for a filly by debut sire Spirit Of Boom. Although the filly’s race record stands at two wins and five placings from 11 starts for earnings of more than $630,00, her bank balance would be more than double that when only centimetres separated the three placegetters – Boomsara, Bondi and Outback Barbie – in the MM 3YO Guineas. The winner Boomsara – also by Spirit of Boom – collected $1.2 million, runner-up Bondi won $370,000 while race favourite Outback Barbie earned $180,000.
It was deja-vu for the Actons as 12 months earlier the filly also collected $180,000 for running third in the MM 2YO Classic behind Sunlight and Hello Beauty. Outback Barbie qualified for the MM 2YO Classic by winning the Listed Callaway Gal Stakes on debut to become Spirit Of Boom’s first stakes winning filly and also has two subsequent Group 2 placings at Randwick in Sydney and a recent Listed race win at Doomben to her credit.
Outback Barbie is from the Magic Million 2YO Classic and multiple Group 1 winner General Nediym mare Pure Purrfection who was represented again at this year’s MM sale with a daughter by Written Tycoon which sold for $340,000 to New Zealand-based buyer Gary Harding.
Kilcoy races Sunday January 27
KILCOY Race Club will celebrate the Australia Day weekend with a massive seven gallop races (all races carrying $21,000 prize money) and three mini trots on Sunday, January 27.
Kilcoy traditionally holds an Australia Day race meeting. However this year Australia Day occurs on Saturday, January 26 and Racing Queensland had already allocated the nearby Sunshine Coast Turf Club to hold a Saturday metropolitan status race meeting featuring the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup at Corbould Park, Caloundra. Consequently, Kilcoy was allocated the next day, Sunday January 27, to hold its Australia Day celebration meeting and has received almost 100 nominations across its seven races.
Promoting its Australia Day meeting, Kilcoy president Con Searle says: “It’s a great a great opportunity for race patrons to celebrate this wonderful country we live in, enjoy the country hospitality, friendship, family fun and most of all country racing at its best.”
- Pick the Kilcoy card competition – $1000 prize.
- Tab and bookmakers operating.
- Prizes for the best Australiana fashions for the day – adults, couples, teens and juniors.
- Men’s, ladies, teens and children running events – prizes for winners and place getters.
Admission is $10 per person while children under 14 years are admitted free.
Winning-post gardens marquee bookings can be made at www.kilcoyraces.com
Australia boasts three-quarters of a billion in prize money
CLOSE to three quarters of a billion dollars was paid out to connections of racehorses across Australia – including prize money and bonuses from incentive schemes – during the 2017-2018 racing season.
The key statistic forms part of the annual Fact Book released last month by the Australian Thoroughbred industry’s administration body, Racing Australia.
Available online, the annual Fact Book reveals that with significant purse increases subsequently announced in the second half of last year, that figure can be expected to climb during the current season.
Although individual starter numbers increased in NSW and Victoria, the report shows there continues to be a decline in the foal-crop – a trend that has existed for the past decade but could be reversed if prize money continues to grow. Assisting that possibility is that, despite sports wagering growing strongly, wagering on Thoroughbreds is at record levels.