THE HOARSE WHISPERER
By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 May 2008, Wednesday
Aussie Horse Sale Beckons
WITH THE local racehorse population at a perennial low due in part to the high cost and meager supply of locally-born thoroughbreds, racehorse owners and new players constantly look to importation as an affordable and quick solution to the problem of acquiring horses for the game.
While American pedigrees are considered covetable, the huge expenses involved not only in the purchase but also in the transport of horses from the United States prohibit heavy sourcing from that country.
Since the ‘70s, local buyers have been procuring quality bloodstock from Australia. There are so many positive factors for this – affordable cost, low freight, and good pedigrees. A runner can be bought for as low as Aus$5,000, with air freight rates at about US$1,500. (There is also an import tax of P50,000 per horse.)
Among the most well-attended auctions are that of the Magic Millions (www.magicmillions.com.au), which will be having their annual National Sale from May 27 to June 13. Over 2,500 horses are in the catalogue – weanlings, broodmares, and yearlings.
Aerial view of the Magic Millions Gold Coast facility and environs.
Among the impeccable lineages on the block are of notable sires Choisir, Dehere, Encosta de Lago, Exceed and Excel, Fasliyev, Flying Spur, Hussonet, King Cugat, Rock of Gibraltar, Royal Academy, Street Cry, Tale of the Cat, Zabeel, and many others.
Magic Millions managing director David Chester, in town to promote the sale, said at a networking function last Monday that the usual discounts and benefits extended to eligible Filipino buyers will be once more available – complimentary accommodations at the Gold Coast, Queensland, venue; ringside dining at the sale; all sale and airport transfers; and passes to a Magic Millions-hosted dinner, among others.
“We are sure,” said Mr. Chester, “that all those interested will find horses within their price range at this auction. We recommend the Broodmare Sale on June 5 to 6 and the Yearling Sale on June 15 to 16 as the most attractive for Philippine clients.”
He added that Magic Millions will sponsor a million-peso race in late September or early October to show support for Philippine racing.
David Chester and Senior Australian Trade Commissioner Ross Bray; horseowners Raymund Puyat, Ramon Balatbat, David Lee, and Manny Santos at the Magic Millions networking function, 5 May 2008, Makati
Magic Millions is highly respected as a source for champions. Sebring, the winner of this year’s Golden Slipper stakes in Australia, the world’s richest juvenile race, is a Magic Millions graduate. Purchased for $130,000, he has earned over $2.1 million in prize money. Undefeated after four runs, this juvenile’s successes have boosted his value to an estimated $15 million.
According to Philippine Racing Commission records, 108 thoroughbred horses were imported from Australia last year, 21 from the United States, and three from New Zealand. In contrast, a total of 582 thoroughbreds were born on local ranches in 2007.
Attrition and accidents ensure that not all of those horses foaled will make it to the racetrack, much less embark upon a career. With a working racehorse population hovering at 900 to 1,200 at any given time and with races held year-round, six days a week, horses are urgently needed to fill the racecards, draw spectators, and sustain the industry.
As the breeding industry slowly gets into gear, importation is the fastest and most cost-effective way for new players to enter the game and for present owners to augment their stables. Racing officials would do well to support importation while at the same time boosting local breeding efforts. Incentives such as stakes races for imports with generous prize money would encourage more people to enter the sport, ensuring the continuous growth of local horseracing. ***