Lot 80 Sunlight was bought by Tom Magnier for $2.4 million dollars Picture Magic Millions
Lot 80 Sunlight was bought by Tom Magnier for $2.4 million dollars Picture Magic Millions

Clarence connection to record $4.2M horse sale

FROM the store cattle sales at Grafton to million-dollar lots at the Magic Millions, former Clarence Valley auctioneer Clint Donovan is usually all business.

However, even he admitted yesterday to a tinge of emotion as he helped create history on the first day of the Magic Millions national sale held on the Gold Coast.

Mr Donovan brought the hammer down on the sale of champion mare Sunlight, who sold for a record $4.2 million.

Clint Donovan at work at the Magic Millions Sales
Clint Donovan at work at the Magic Millions Sales

It is a record not only for the Magic Millions, but for any filly or mare auctioned off the track in the southern hemisphere.

"In the auditorium, the crowd was all there, and you could've heard a pin drop," he said.

"The whole place stopped."

It's a far cry from his first days auctioning cattle at the Grafton Saleyards as a 13-year-old under father Ray Donovan's watchful eye.

"It's a career highlight and an excellent result," he said.

"We've never sold a horse of that quality, and she's probably the best mare ever to go to market.

One of the Owners of the Magic Millions 2yo Classic winner
One of the Owners of the Magic Millions 2yo Classic winner "Sunlight" Robyn Parker walks back with jockey Luke Currie after the win at Magic Millions Race day on the Gold Coast. Pics Adam Head

"She was offered unreserved so she could've gone for $500,000, but the people stepped up.

The winning bidder was Irish businessman Tom Magnier and will stay in Australia for breeding.

Lot 80 Sunlight with buyer Tom Magnier and handler Sarah Rutten Picture Magic Millions
Lot 80 Sunlight with buyer Tom Magnier and handler Sarah Rutten Picture Magic Millions

The winner of three group one races, including the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in 2018, Mr Donovan said Sunlight would always be sought after in her retirement.

>>> RELATED: Sunlight takes out Magic Millions 2YO Classic

"It's the way she was bred, and how good looking she was along with her results," he said.

"The ones she won are the hardest Group 1 sprint races in Australia, and they're the races you want to win to be in the money."

And while auctioneers may have a reputation for being fast-talkers, Mr Donovan's calm, considered approach guided multiple bidders.

Clint Donovan at work at the Magic Millions Sales
Clint Donovan at work at the Magic Millions Sales

"The intention is not to say too much," he said. "If you're talking then the people are quiet."

And while he's never been one to watch himself sell, Mr Donovan said he might have a look at the tape on this one.

"It went fairly quickly, or at least it seemed to," he said. "I was on autopilot, and I don't think about the numbers... it's all just the art of the auction."

Mr Donovan said he felt the emotion of the moment, with Sunlight's strapper showing a connection to the horse unlike any other.

"That girl took her on from when she arrived at the McEvoy stable; rode her every day, stayed with her for six weeks - she basically slept with her for four years," he said.

Sarah Rutten and Sunlight. Picture: Magic Millions
Sarah Rutten and Sunlight. Picture: Magic Millions

"She flew up to lead Sunlight through, and she was bawling her eyes out - it was quite emotional.

"It just shows how special these horses are to all involved."