David Chester

published: 20 Dec 2013 in Q&A

There can be no better way to start the annual round of yearling sales in Australia and New Zealand than with the Gold Coast Magic Millions offering.

The festivities associated with the sale begin on Friday, January 3, with a Sportsman’s Lunch and continue through the Magic Millions Race Day on Saturday, January 11, to the final day of selling on Tuesday, January 14.

A total of 663 yearlings are catalogued for Book 1 with the auction beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 8, and finishing with an evening session on race day.

The Magic Millions sales director David Chester has just returned from an extensive tour of the Asian promoting the sale.

Stallions questioned David about the response he received, the prospects for legalized betting on racing in China, Asian support for Magic Millions sales and other matters.


Q.: Did you receive an encouraging response on your Asian tour

A.: Very much so, particularly from China which is nearly a new market as far as our January sale is concerned. We have two fairly big buyers coming from China. They are not going to be buying in the top bracket but they are certainly going to be buying at the lower end where we need a lot of help with our sales. There seems to be plenty of competition at the top and middle end and it is the lower end where we can have a struggle.


Q.: What impressions do you have of the situation regarding legalized racing and betting in China

A.: My opinion is that it will be a long time before racing begins in China with betting on the meetings. But, at the same time, the number of race tracks being built and planned is phenomenal. And, you have to respect that the Chinese people are pretty smart and they wouldn’t be doing that unless there was a light at the end of the tunnel. They have a great love of gambling and racing and next year is the Year of the Horse so that could lead to something.


Q.: Where is most Asian buying support likely to come from

A.: Mostly from Hong Kong, which will be reasonably strong again. I am expecting Korea to be stronger, particularly in the last two books of the sale. The Koreans are very keen on any horses that have dirt track pedigrees such as yearlings by Congrats and Big Brown and they will be targeted by them. Another factor in our favor as far as the Koreans are concerned is that they have found the northern hemisphere sales to be really expensive so they have struggled to buy. Even though we are at a disadvantage because the Koreans race to northern hemisphere time they are looking towards the Magic Millions because the market up there has blown them to bits. We will also have Macau and the Philippines participating.


Q.: What is the general feeling in Asia about the M.M. sales

A.: We have been marketing up in Asia for nearly 20 years now and the message has got through that we sell quality horses at reasonable prices. It has been a lot of hard work but we have a fantastic name up there. Our brand in Asia is very, very strong . . . probably stronger than any other country in the world.


Q.: Did you go racing while you were away

A.: I went racing at Chendu in China, went to Happy Valley and Shatin, and Macau as well as Busan and Seoul in Korea. The Korean Racing Association invited us to participate in a promotional race and they K.R.A. people looked after us really well, which was another positive.


Q.: How is the interest across the Tasman

A.: The New Zealanders need Australian-bred horses because they do very well there. They are fairly light on for stallions and the horses they pin-hook at the Magic Millions have done very well in the two-year-old sales and being on-sold into Asia. Over the years the New Zealanders have been very supportive of the sale, for good reason, because they can buy good horses at reasonable prices.


Q.: Will the recent decline in the Australian dollar help.

A.: That’s a good question. In Asia they are all talking about how much better off they will be than the 2013 sale because the dollar has dropped.


Q.: Does the company have any indication of Australian buying strength

A.: We do. We’ve had tremendous interest and the bookings are at record levels. All the hotels are now full and we are in a bit of trouble as far as accommodation is concerned. All the Australian buyers must be here because of the horses we are selling. We sold Oakleigh Girl, who is the best two-year-old so far this year, the previous year we sold Zoustar, the year before we had Pierro and the year before that we had Atlantic Jewel. Every year we turn up not just one good horse but a lot of good horses.


Q.: Do you have any advise for buyers.

A.: Yes I do. I would like to get the message across that people shouldn’t sit back on their hands because it’s the first sale of the year. Their thoughts are that the market is going to become weaker as the sales progress but it invariably becomes stronger. So my advice to buyers is to get to the Magic Millions and  buy early because you will buy right.


Q.: Is the Racing Women promotion continuing to gain momentum

A.: It is definitely. It has been a great promotion that came from Katie Harvey. Everyone had their doubts about it when she came up with the idea but its blown every one out of the water since because it has really worked.


Q.: Is your adrenalin starting to pump

A.: Yes it is. We are supposed to be having a couple of days off around Christmas but I don’t think we’ll be doing it because there is so much happening.