The Magic Millions sale on Australia’s famous Gold Coast kicks off this week with 1,600 yearlings on offer.

The depth and quality of this year’s catalogue has attracted a large contingent of South African buyers including Charles Laird, Basil Marcus, Dave Goss, Cornice Spies, Chris Snaith, Des Scott, Greg Enion, Gary Grant, Mick Goss, Robbie Sage, Dennis Drier, Andy Williams, and John Spence.

In the past 2 years Laird, on behalf of businessman Marcus Jooste, has been on a noticeable spending spree in Australia. In just 24 months he has purchased 39 horses for more than AUD 13.405m (R75,993,723) including the Australian record breaking Redoute’s Choice-Deja Slew colt who was knocked down for AUD3m (R17,007,174) at the 2006 Inglis Easter sale.

Of his current 3 year old crop (12 graduates of the 2005 sales) Laird has produced 9 winners including Group performers Our Giant and Encora de Lago. Of the 27 yearlings purchased in 2006, 19 were signed for at the Magic Millions and it was of little surprise therefore that his arrival at the Gold Coast on Friday morning attracted noticeable media attention, many speculating as to what fireworks Laird would ignite in the 2007 auction ring.

Managing Director of Magic Millions, David Chester reports “Some of the biggest buyers in the world are attending this sale - some of them for the first time. Well-known identities such as John Ferguson, Demi O’Byrne, Angus Gold, and Charles Laird will all be in attendance. Overall, buyers from 15 counties will be represented.”

The increasing profile of the Magic Millions sales owes as much to the success of its graduates locally as it does to the success of Australian-bred horses generally across the globe with the likes of Takeover Target, Choisir, Elvstroem, Alinghi, Silent Witness, Mummify, and Sun Classique demonstrating the competitiveness of the Australian product.

It is this success that is celebrated and promoted by Aushorse – a national body consisting of major Australian commercial breeders.

Aushorse Chairman John Messara (who recently invested in South Africa with his young Danehill stallion Way West) is a passionate believer in the quality of the Australian thoroughbred and, along with his Board, is taking great delight in sending that message to the world.

“You need only take a look at the success Australian-bred horses have had in recent times when taken onto the international stage,” Messara said. “The strike rate of these horses is quite phenomenal and international buyers are now starting to realise this.”

The Leading Breeders by Stakes log in South Africa reflects Messara’s words. In the season to 5 January 2007 Australian bred horses ranked 5th on the log and with a winners to runners ratio of 38%, Australian breds sport a significantly higher percentage of winners to runners than their South African counterparts who fill the leading positions on the table.

In recent months horses the likes of Sun Classique -  “widely considered to be probably the best of her age and sex in training” (Sporting Post headline 1/1/07) - have continued to fly the Australian flag. The daughter of Fuji Kiseki won the Gr 1 Cape Fillies Guineas over 1600m in early December and followed this with a second in the Gr 1 Paddock Stakes. The filly has now won 4 races and placed 3 times from just 7 starts.

Other horses in the news of late include Our Giant (Giant’s Causeway-Macrosa)who  is now a 2-time winner and 2-time placegetter (including a 3rd in the Gr 2 Turffontein Dingaans Handicap) - from just 4 starts whilst Encora de Lago (Encosta de Lago x Jolly’s Folly by Bluebird) is a 2-time winner and 4-time placegetter - including a 4th at Listed level - this campaign. Together they add to the achievements of Sushisan (2nd in the Gr 1 Vodacom Durban July and 3rd in the Gr 1 Gold Challenge Cup) who has now headed to the Middle East to compete in the lucrative Dubai International Racing Carnival.

These successes are not anomalies. Other recent winners with the AUS suffix include Miss Galilei (Galileo x Our Dizzy Raine) - a winner at her first start on 7 December 2006, Bridget’s Academy (Royal Academy x Pokey Hill) - 3rd in the Gr 1 Golden Slipper, Serengeti Sunrise (Flying Spur x Ripplin’ Rosie) - a 3 time winner and 9 time place getter from 13 starts, Arabesque Dancer (Danehill Dancer-Swirled) - a 4-time winner and 3 time placegetter from just 7 starts,  Danewells Lass (Danehill-Sontweni), Millionash (King’s Best-Chacony), Terrestrial Rose (Archway-Fairy Like), Seronera (End Sweep-Azzurro),  Hurricane Silver (Hurricane Sky-Protegee), Lady Zabelia (Zabeel-Miss Power Bird), Celestial Mist (Celestial Dancer-Silvercloud), Court of Justice (Blackfriars-Exclusive Jane), Destined to Be (Danehill Dancer-Cathie’s Lane), Super Profit (Spinning World-Asian Incline), Linda Grandeza (Grand Lodge-Masked Dancer, Kiwinsky (Stravinsky-Empress Belle), Nzumba (Spinning World x Watercolours by Nassipour), Keen Warrior (Keeper-Wily Dancer), Tropical Empire (Second Empire-Tropical Touch), High Jester (Real Jester x Highwinds by Jevington), Silverpoint (Woodman-Early Song), Tactical Cat (Catbird-Queen’s Choir), Romanelli (Octagaonal x Dancer’s Choice by Bletchingly) etc.

A large number of yearlings on offer at this year’s Magic Millions sale also offer strong links to South Africa. There are many close relations to a number of notable South African performers including 1993 Champion South African 2YO filly TRACY’S ELEMENT (dam of multiple Gr 2 winner TOPASANNAH and grand dam of Gr. 1 winner SUNTAGONAL), BELLE GRISE (dam of this season’s winner Le Beau d’Isle), ENCORA DE LAGO (unplaced in only one of her 7 starts, who ran 4th in the Starling Stakes [Listed] last November), Champion South African 3YO colt in 2004 GREY’S INN, Gr. 2 place getter SIMUNYE, MISS UNIMAC (also the dam of this season’s Listed placegetter Private Collection) and 5-time winner Shareef Star; Gr 1 winner SUN CLASSIQUE, 1997 Champion South African Female Stayer MOSSZAO and Autumn Collection (dam of Gr. 2 winner AUTUMN LODGE), South African Oaks winner STORMY HILL, and Gr. 1 winner RACE MASTER. There are also close relations to Summerhill Stud’s first season sires SLEW THE RED and HOBB ALWAHTAN;  a half sister to SUSHISAN, and relatives to graded stakes winners FULL PRESS, TORNADO KING, GATHERING STORM, BISHOP’S ROCK, GOOD TRADITION (dam of stakes performers GOOD TRADITION, MERMAID’S FLANNEL and Royal Carat), plus the multiple Gr. 1 placegetter KARAKA ONE; APPEAL PROCESS, Gr. 1 winner IGREJA, Oaks winner TAINEBERRY (dam of graded stakes winner and Gr. 1 placegetter JALBERRY), Listed winner SILVER EMPIRE, Pokey Hill (dam of last season’s Gr. 1 placegetter Bridget’s Academy), 1984 Champion South African filly and multiple Gr. 1 winner PETRAVIA, a half sister to 2001 Champion South African 3YO filly HOEBERG and graded stakes winner and champion sire JALLAD, plus the 6-time winner Alhawa and 5-time winner Practice Man; 1997 Co-Champion 3YO filly and 1996 Champion South African 2YO filly - 10 wins, 4 at Gr. 1 level - ARABIAN LASS; champion sire FORT WOOD; a colt out of the half sister to DALTAWA (dam of European Horse of the Year and World Series Champion DAYLAMI who will stand at the Riethuiskraal Stud of Mr Altus Joubert in the coming season); 4-time winner and graded place getter FIRST BURST (dam of Gr. 3 placegetter Quick as a Lizard), Gr. 1 winner RACE MASTER, and 1998 Champion South African 3YO filly SPOOK EXPRESS.

The Magic Millions 2007 sale runs from 11 – 19 January. You can watch the sale live at