'The vibrancy and health of the industry here has been a revelation'
Our latest Godolphin Flying Start blog comes from Margaux Herinckx, from Newmarket. Her experience in the industry includes time spent in Australia, France and Ireland - two and a half years with Ger Lyons - as well as Britain, while she has a Foreign Language degree through the Open University. She also had an externship with Brendan Walsh in Kentucky
It’s a new year, and our 2021-2023 Flying Start group were straight back into the thick of the action, having spent the Christmas holidays in various locations around Australia and New Zealand.
With our graduation date edging ever closer, we were keen to make the most of our last few weeks in Australia, with a final stop at the Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sales scheduled into our calendar.
For those of us who grew up with racing in the northern hemisphere, the hospitality at Australia’s major racing carnivals has been much admired throughout our time here, and the Gold Coast sales turned out to be no different.
If anything, the hospitality tents provided for prospective buyers at the complex took things to a whole new level. While in Europe we might look forward to some hot chips and a break from the cold at Tattersalls, dressed in our woolly hats and waterproofs, here champagne, fresh-pressed juices and food of every variety flowed in the sometimes-overbearing heat.
Nevertheless, it was business as usual for trainers, agents and vendors alike, with just under 1,000 yearlings stabled at the complex for Book 1. The volume of horses to inspect meant that many of those looking to buy had already attended a number of on-farm viewings prior to the beginning of the sale, but the rapidly changing nature of yearlings at this age meant they were invariably viewed again once at the Gold Coast.
Trainees had the opportunity to shadow a range of top-class agents and trainers throughout the sale, many of whom we had recently completed our two-month externship with. I was fortunate enough to accompany Andy Williams, himself a Flying Start graduate, along with Bevan Smith and the team at Vinery Stud throughout Book 1, and I would love to thank them all for their openness and patience in guiding me through the Australian sales scene.
For me, the yearling sales have always been an ideal opportunity to learn more about sires’ progeny: how they stamp their stock, how much influence can be identified on the dams’ side, associated conformation faults and so on, and as such I was keen to soak in as much as I could.
With an impressive array of Zoustars, Written Tycoons, Snitzels, I Am Invincibles, Extreme Choices and Capitalists on show (to name but a few), the task was certainly not an arduous one.
As always, a host of first-season sires were also represented, with Darley’s Blue Point and Aquis Farm’s Pierata impressing many, as well as fellow Darley shuttler Too Darn Hot making a splash with his million-dollar filly out of the mare Enbihaar. Much like the European sales of 2022, Magic Millions enjoyed strong trade with buyers from across the globe descending on the complex, and with 20 lots selling for seven figures and two lots breaking the previous record for the sales house, it was reassuring to see there remains a healthy appetite for buying horses both here and overseas.
As the final hammer fell on Saturday night, trainees prepared to make their way back to the Hunter Valley for a wrap-up week before embarking on our penultimate journey to Dubai.
The vibrancy and health of the industry here has been a revelation to many of us, not to mention how readily young professionals are encouraged and helped along their respective career paths. We would like to thank all of those who have welcomed and coached us during our time here, particularly our GFS coordinator Tayla Gilmore and the whole Godolphin team.
I’m sure for a number of us it will not be long before we are back down under again.