The million-dollar mark always holds mystique at yearling sales around the world, regardless of the currency.

While increasing bloodstock prices have meant more and more horses reaching the seven-figure milestone – there were 48 in Australasia in 2023 compared to 10 only a decade prior in 2013 – it is still an elite club of just over 1 per cent of yearlings sold each year.

But what about the buyers of those $1 million horses? How much have they evolved and changed over the years?

Anyone who has paid even cursory attention to the buyers at yearling sales will know the two men at the top of the list in terms of volume of $1 million yearlings purchased.

Tom Magnier, principal of Coolmore Australia, has signed for 33 million-dollar yearlings in Australia and New Zealand since 2008 with 29 of those since 2018. 

Whether under his name or in partnership, 14.1 per cent of horses sold for a million dollars or more have been purchased by Magnier. That list doesn’t include the further nine yearlings purchased under the ‘Coolmore’ banner over the years.

James Harron is another perennial buyer in that price range. As the face of one of the more successful colts partnerships in Australia, Harron has a major profile in the bloodstock industry and has purchased 27 seven-figure yearlings, 23 colts and four fillies, since 2013.

Like Magnier, Harron’s purchases in that million-dollar range have been concentrated in recent years, with 20 of those 27 yearlings bought since 2018, including now Coolmore sire King’s Legacy. 

James Harron has purchased 27 seven-figure yearlings (Photo: Magic Millions)

He has signed for just under 10 per cent of all million-dollar yearlings in the past six years.

Other names to feature prominently on the list of seven-figure yearlings over the years are Gai Waterhouse (either under her name or in partnership) with 21 and Hawkes Racing with 13.

Darley was a major investor in that price range in the early 2000s, buying 12 between 2002 and 2009, but none since. Under the Godolphin name, they have purchased just one in that price range. 

As outlined in our article on which stables the million-dollar yearlings go to, Chris Waller gets a large number of horses for that price profile as a trainer, but has signed for only nine as a buyer.

While there are names that are synonymous with buying million-dollar yearlings in Australasia, there is a surprising diversity of buyers among the 403 yearlings who fit that category.

Buyer $1 million-plus yearlings
Tom Magnier 33
James Harron 27
Gai Waterhouse 21
Hawkes Racing 12
Darley/Godolphin 12

All in all, there have been 235 different individual buyers of those yearlings, although that list does have some duplicates under slightly different names/combinations.

In 2023, among the 48 individual million-dollar yearlings horses sold in Australasia, there were a record 30 different buyers. In 2022, the number of different buyers was 20, while in 2021, it was 24.

Only four buyers have featured on the million-dollar buyers’ list in each of the past three sales seasons. They are Magnier, Harron, Ciaron Maher and Hawkes Racing. However, the group of repeat investors in that seven-figure space is growing and appears more sustainable than it has been in the past.

A look at the top-priced yearlings of this century does unearth some ‘less sustainable’ investors. The most famous is BC3 Thoroughbreds, who spent $7.6 million on two siblings to Black Caviar, before financially collapsing in 2013.

Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm sparkled and faded in the same era. Among its high-profile purchases were a trio of seven-figure Redoute’s Choice colts. South African trainer Charles Laird purchased a trio of $1 million-plus colts in 2006, but never returned to that level of investment in Australia again.

Damion Flower’s Jadeskye Racing signed for five million-dollar-plus yearlings between 2016 and 2019, before his much-publicised arrest, conviction and jailing led to his sudden exit from the scene.

New names are appearing among the list of million-dollar buyers. American visitor Tammy Rigney was on a family holiday on the Gold Coast last year and decided to part with some significant coin - $3.2 million - for a couple of well-bred I Am Invincible fillies.

Similarly Gandharvi Racing, together with bloodstock agent Michael Wallace, also purchased a couple of million-dollar yearlings, both at Easter, while Michael Hickmott and Douglas Whyte teamed up for a $1.1 million Snitzel colt at Magic Millions.

So what about vendors, those who sell the big-money yearlings?

A look back over the years sees Arrowfield dominant in this area with 71 $1 million-plus yearlings. That is 17.6 per cent of all yearlings sold in that price bracket.

Second is Coolmore on 43, while Segenhoe Stud and Yarraman Park have 30 apiece.