A sale day in the life... Damon Gabbedy
Ahh, the Gold Coast…
I have been coming to the Magic Millions for over 20- 25 years and I have a confession to make, I used to hate the Gold Coast and everything about it. As a selfproclaimed Melbourne snob dressed in my Melbourne black, I couldn’t see past the glitz, flesh and sparkle of the meter maids, you couldn’t find a decent coffee and let’s not get me started on the restaurants. In the early days at a rather swanky restaurant, the special of the day was apricot chicken – a dreadful dish that my mother used to serve me in the late 70s, early 80s. It nearly put me off coming to the Gold Coast altogether.
But, talk about a complete turnaround! On my recent visit to the National Broodmare sale held this Covid year in July, I found myself speaking to my long suffering companion who was in freezing, very wet and dreary lock up in Melbourne; whilst I was walking down the beach in magnificent 25 degree warmth, suggesting that we should look to moving up here permanently, or at least buying a holiday pad on the Gold Coast.
As the French say “Quelle Horrore” – Who am I now?!
To me, that is a great example of how the Gold Coast has matured into a serious city. There are numerous, seriously good restaurants that would stand up and be counted in Melbourne and Sydney, the coffee and coffee shops are edgy and fantastic, the weather is unbelievable and don’t get me started on Pacific Fair! Since it has been refurbished, it could be one of THE best shopping centres I’ve been to anywhere in the world. I always try to leave some free time to give the credit card a serious workout while I’m on the Gold Coast.
I feel myself waffling and digress from the main point of this article. The lovely Val from Magic Millions asked me to pen a day in the life of a formerly young bloodstock agent on the Gold Coast.
As the sun seems to rise early and for some strange reason, the older you get the earlier you wake up, the best way to start the day is with a walk along the gorgeous and seemingly endless beach, but I must warn you to be prepared for some very confronting sights. Many an industry figure is starting the day the same way and let’s just say budgie smugglers are a definite no no and some should keep their shirts on – even while swimming! (No I didn’t mention Harry Mitchell).
I’m not much of a breakfast person so I usually skip that and head out to the sales for a nice early start.
As the catalogue is getting bigger and bigger it pays to be organised and arrive to the sales complex early. As it’s what I call our first run back from a spell, in hot and humid conditions you really have to allow yourself plenty of time to inspect yearlings. As an agent, I like to look at every lot on offer and that at times can be a daunting task… especially with so many distractions! We haven’t seen our friends and colleagues for a while so all the hellos, how was your Christmas/New Year’s chats can take a while and slow you down.
On a very good day and being extremely efficient, you can get through around 120/140 yearlings per day. It’s so important though to be alert when looking at yearlings, if the phone rings you get distracted, if someone walks past you get caught up in the chitter chatter. You have to be extremely respectful to vendors that this is the grand final for breeders, and it is years of planning that has gone into the yearling being paraded in front of you. I often note in my catalogue if I’m hot, distracted or tired and that I should reinspect a yearling or a draft. It’s difficult at times to juggle the phone and clients, so I try to leave enough time at the end of the day to get through these.
During a full-on day, you need a few pit stops to keep you hydrated and fresh, so I find myself cruising by Newgate mid-morning for some of Shane Keating’s delicious chicken sandwiches or timing a lunch inspection at Arrowfield where they always provide a scrumptious lunch. Bo at Kitchwin Hills is also another I’d highly recommend for a smile, a drink and a seat to recharge the batteries. A mid-afternoon drive by via Widden to pick up a Golden Gaytime also helps!
After one of these pit stops it’s back to the grind and getting through as many yearlings as possible. The horses (and agent!) start getting tired and staff begin packing up around 4pm. One of the most enjoyable parts of the day is having a drink at the bar around this time. It’s an ideal opportunity to catch up with vendors, staff, friends and enemies and chew the fat.
Common questions you hear around the bar at this time include; Have you seen many you like? How are you getting on with x-rays? What do you think of the first season sires, who’s your favourite? Got any orders or buyers? After a few cleansing ales, this can lead to questions like do you think so and so had a bit too much turkey over Christmas? X has aged and Y is looking amazing! And what are they wearing?!
After I’ve found all the gossip and tried to squeeze some inside information out of the vendors it’s time to head back to Broadbeach. If time permits and I didn’t have too many vodka cocktails, another beach walk is ideal, but it’s usually where I do some work on shortening the list down for second and third inspections. I also spend some time researching the yearlings I love in more depth, like what the other siblings have sold for, check the race performance of the mare and look into the nicks and crosses of the sire and broodmare sire. Double busy!
Then it’s a juggle of dinner invitations (in my dreams!) and a not so quick costume change in my case and out to one of the many restaurants. Mamasan, Social and Etsu are all a must do! The social life is full on and great fun at this sale, everyone is happy, fresh and in good form. There are dinner invitations aplenty and I can’t remember ever having a night in my room during this time – and why would you want to?!
While the sale specialises in selling early running, fast two-year-olds, this sale is a real test of stamina for the participants, especially for someone like me who can resist everything but the temptation of a night out. But don’t feel sorry for me as busy and stressed as I sound;
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE WHAT I DO AND WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING. IF YOU’RE IN THE HORSE INDUSTRY, THE GOLD COAST IS THE ONLY PLACE TO BE IN JANUARY.