Hunter yearlings to dazzle sales

OFFERINGS from Hunter region studs dominate this week's Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sales that start today.

All eyes will be on whether the progeny of world-famous sires, such as Coolmore stallion Fastnet Rock and Kentucky-based Big Brown, a regular attraction at the Hunter's Vinery stud, will attract the money equal to their bloodlines.

The event is the first major yearling sale of the year and will show how much money buyers are willing to spend as the racing and breeding industry confronts the constrained economic conditions.

Magic Millions media manager Greg Irvine said the sale will set the tone for 2013.

Some 900 lots are in the catalogue, compared with 645 last year, Mr Irvine said.

Those numbers are back to 2008 levels before the global financial crisis caused drops of about 30 per cent, a trend that continued until last year.

Upper Hunter Baramul stud's 67 lots is the sales' largest single offering.

Coolmore follows with 46, Widden with 38, Yarraman Park with 26, Arrowfield 25 and Kitchwin Hills 20.

It is the first sale of Big Brown's Australian yearling crop.

Big Brown, which was charged out at $22,000 a service in 2012, has 25 of his progeny up for sale.

Vinery did not want to say what his fee would be in 2013.

Mr Irvine said the buyers' mood should be revealed early on Lot 25, a colt by Fastnet Rock.

Another of the sire's colts got last year's top price of $960,000.

Muswellbrook bloodstock expert Brian Russell said Big Brown's progeny sales and the recent acquisition of budding champion three-year-old All Too Hard from mining magnate Nathan Tinkler represent a new era for Vinery, Australia's oldest operating horse breeding farm.

Mr Russell said the All Too Hard package was reported to have cost $25 million.

"The jewel of the package is All Too Hard, a half-brother to Black Caviar," Mr Russell said.

Vinery said Kia Ora stud had joined its All Too Hard syndicate.

Gross sales at Magic Millions in 2012 totalled $62.57 million, compared with $107.9 million in 2008.

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