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Buyers hunt for the crown Jewel

By Andrew Adermann

The countdown is on to next week’s Magic Millions March Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast.

The Sale, which kicks off on Monday, March 16, will see 412 lots go under the hammer over the two days.

Scott McAlpine heads up one of the state’s leading farms, Eureka Stud, and is bullish about what the coming week holds after spending time inter-state drumming up support for the Sale.

“I’ve been promoting the QTIS scheme to people I’ve talked to down in Adelaide and Sydney at other sales, trying to encourage them to come here and purchase with those added incentives,” McAlpine said.

“We’ll have sold something like 82 yearlings by the time this Sale has wrapped up, going back to the January Gold Coast Sale.

“We don’t differentiate between our horses going to the January and March Sale – they have the same opportunity to grow and develop and get the chance to be the best they possibly can be.

“Everybody has a different view on what they like, but buyers can purchase with confidence from this sale and we are trying to give new owners the best possibility of a horse that can get them a result.”

Eureka’s gun sire and two-time Group 1 winner Spirit of Boom features heavily in the sales book, throwing more than 50 of this year’s yearlings – the most of all sires in the catalogue.

“In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to get a stallion to stand as all the big players have money to throw at the best stallions going around,” McAlpine said.

“We sold Spirit of Boom as a yearling to Tony Gollan and we kept 15% of him, going on to be a dual Group 1 winner.

“He was just a genuine, tough race horse as a two-year-old right through to retirement.

“We had the opportunity to buy him back at that point and we always believed in him as a sire being a Group 1 winner.

“The support we’ve got from all the mare owners and breeders has been fantastic, and we are now getting better quality mares to work with.

“Spirit of Boom is a stallion that has a great future of producing a lot of winners, and they are horses that are always going to have the opportunity to return their owners a lot of excitement and hopefully monetary wise.

“If we happen to get the big Group races up our sleeves, then that’s a bonus for the owners and the stallion.”

Spirit of Boom was himself a product of the March sale, alongside arguably Queensland’s greatest sprinter, the seven-time Group 1 winning champion, Buffering.

“You go back to 2011, I bought Buffering for $22,000 and he went on to win $7 million but now there’s just a host of really good, prominent Queensland sires being represented – it’s just a great buying sale,” trainer Rob Heathcote said.

There’s added incentive for buyers this year, with all lots eligible for the Queensland Thoroughbred Incentive Scheme where buyers will have the opportunity to take home bonus prize money for a Saturday metro win.

The introduction of new QTISx bonuses also means buyers can either take the cash or choose a sales voucher to double the bonus value on the purchase of a QTIS yearling at selected Queensland sales.

“QTIS is the excitement of racing in Queensland – it has been the success story,” Rob Heathcote said.

“I’ve been involved in Queensland racing for 22 years now and it’s been the shining star that whole time and it’s just ramped up to a whole new level.

“The race day coincides with the Sale which I think is the most affordable, best horse sale in Australia.”

McAlpine echoed Heathcote’s sentiments, singling out the QTIS scheme as a major incentive for buyers across the nation to look to Queensland for their next purchase.

“I think Queensland’s sales have an advantage with the added prize money scheme so I’m very confident that this sale will be strong with a fair bit of interest,” McAlpine said.

“I absolutely agree with Rob’s comments about this sale being one of the best and most affordable in the country.

“For buyers, trainers, syndicators and individual owners buying nice horses at a reasonable price to win some great prize money – it’s definitely a good sale in terms of value for money.

“The syndicators are the ones that are making it happen these days, if you can get a group of people into a horse you might only have a little bit of participation but it drums up excitement across the board for everyone involved.”

The sale follows the massive $1.6 million Jewel Raceday at the Gold Coast Turf Club on March 14.

The day is headlined by the $500,000 Aquis QTIS 2YO Jewel, where the undefeated Heathcote trained Rothfire will be searching for a fifth career win, jumping as a likely $1.10 favourite with TAB.

The two feature races of the day highlight the strength in Queensland stallions at the moment, where almost half of the two-year-old field and three more in the three-year-old are a progeny of Spirit of Boom.

Another leading Queensland sire in Better Than Ready, who has close to 40 yearlings in the March sale book, siring five runners in the weekend’s feature for three-year-olds.

Finally, Lyndhurst Stud lay claim to another prominent Queensland sire in Rotheasy, who as the name suggests, fathered the raging two-year-old favourite Rothfire, as well as three-year-old race favourite and star filly, Gem of Scotland.

Click here for further information on the QTIS Jewel Raceday.

Image credit: Sharon Chapman Photography