It’s been 30 years since I first reported on the Magic Millions (MM) which in 1986 was a far cry from what we witness and enjoy so readily today.
Working as a cadet reporter at a Queensland racing magazine, we devoted plenty of resources and energy into helping the late Carl Waugh and then MM Head Auctioneer David Chester receive as much coverage as possible for this unique sales and racing concept which had never been tried before.
In many sectors, there were sneers that a million dollar race restricted to yearlings bought at the sale the previous 12 months could succeed but despite the skepticism, hopes were high that the sales would hold its own against their southern rivals.
The inaugural yearling sales attracted some nicely-bred youngsters but Inglis in Sydney and the Melbourne sales were still regarded as the premier nationwide entities to sell quality bloodstock.
What the Millions needed was an early home run and with their first winner 12 months on from the 1986 sale, they sure smashed it out of the park.
Snippets, a muscular barrel-chested bay colt roared to an effortless victory in the inaugural MM for two year-olds. I will never forget the tears from little-known trainer Sally Rodgers who nursed a broken arm as she led the colt back to the winning enclosure with journeyman Kiwi jockey Phillip Smith (or better known by his initials PB) aboard.
Check the history books and you’ll see Snippets went on to become an outstanding sprinter, a three time Group One winner and one of the best three year-olds in his classic season when he was transferred south and trained by the late Novacastrian conditioner Max Lees
Snippets also excelled in the breeding barn and became a champion sire which helped stamp the MM as more than simply a sale which produced speedy early season juveniles.
Since 1987, the Millions carnival has now become synonymous with the first two weeks of the new year and of course it takes in much more than just a single two year-old race and mere race day. It’s become an event which holds its own over a fortnight receiving oustanding media exposure for the Gold Coast Turf Club and the industry as a whole.
It has proven to have much more horsepower than the ill-fated Gold Coast Indy carnival.
MM founder Carl Waugh was a big man and his dreams were just as large but his Magic Millions concept has become bigger than anyone would’ve expected.
Enjoy the 2017 MM carnival. By Ben Dobson