The Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast, held in the second week of January every year since the mid-1980s, has long been considered the litmus test of how the nation’s discretionary spend is likely to track over the next 12 months.
The last Magic Millions sale, a decade on from the financial crisis of 2008, claimed the record for the highest-grossing yearling sale in the southern hemisphere at $166 million: $20 million more than the January 2017 result. (The previous record of $150.16 million was set by Sydney-based auction house William Inglis & Son in 2008.)
Can this be repeated?
Less than a month from kick-off, the week-long sales and racing carnival already had a handy early indicator that buyers’ credit cards will be at the fore when the yearling sale starts on Wednesday January 9: overall ticket sales for the first event, the Pacific Fair Magic Millions Polo Day on Sunday January 6, were up 70 per cent on the previous polo day, which attracted a crowd of about 1000 people.
“We’re thrilled sales have been so strong so early, not least given we only started this polo event a few years ago,” says Paul Roberts of TLA, the event organisers for Magic Millions Polo. “We think part of it is the celebrity lineup we have each year; part of it is the pricing options we offer, with a range to suit everyone, and part of it is the growing popularity of polo.
“More people are being introduced to the passion of this ancient game. It’s one of the very few horse sports where you can be only metres from the action as the horses thunder down the field.”
The strongest gain has been in corporate marquees as social or exhibition polo, as it is known – played by the beach or in city centres – grows in popularity with the general public and as a corporate client entertainment option.
Polo Day at the Magic Millions, owned by Gerry Harvey and Katie Page-Harvey, will go from one VIP marquee for 50 people to five marquees catering for 250 guests. Corporate hosting packages run from $165 to $350 a person for the day; a single-person general admission ticket is just $15.
Marquees at the 2019 event, held each year at the Doug Jennings Park near upmarket Main Beach, are The Star, Pacific Fair, The Hallmark Group, Versace and James Frizelle’s Automotive Group (including Ferrari). Another key Magic Millions sponsor, Harrolds, is doing Fashions on the Field.
By Fiona Carruthers
Magic Millions Polo Day boasts the international polo pin-up Nacho Figueras from Argentina and Australia’s own Rob Archibald, from Scone.
Zara Tindall, a silver-medal Olympic equestrienne and the second eldest of the Queen’s eight grandchildren, unfailingly adds royal flair.
Each year the main game on the day features mixed teams. For the upcoming event, Figueras’ wife, Delfina Blaquier, will play for the first time – as will Tindall.
“It will be a real crowd pleaser to see Delfina on one team and Zara on the other,” says Roberts. “We know what a brilliant rider Zara is, and Delfina too is a very accomplished horsewoman and a strong polo player.”