Such is the nature of racing, few guarantees accompany the fall of the hammer to signal the latest sale of an Australian yearling that reaches $1 million or more at auction .

But there is one result that has a reasonably predictable outcome: the colt or filly will most likely find its way to a Sydney stable.

Historically, it has been Sydney’s three major training centres - Randwick, Rosehill and Warwick Farm - where Australia’s most expensive pieces of untried bloodstock are given their first opportunity to deliver on the expectation that only a financial commitment of that magnitude can generate.

As the home of the world’s richest race for two-year-olds, the $5 million Golden Slipper, Sydney has long been a hub for juvenile riches.

And since Lee Freedman and his brothers claimed four straight Slipper wins during the 1990s out of their Victorian operation, Sydney-trained two-year-olds have dominated the race to such an extent that only four interstate stables have triumphed since the turn of the century.

So it’s hardly a surprise that wealthy owners gravitate to stables who are consistently producing outstanding results with young horses.

A philosophy of a quick return on investment powered Tommy Smith to 33 consecutive Sydney premierships and six Golden Slipper triumphs during a Hall of Fame career.

His daughter Gai Waterhouse has followed the famous Tulloch Lodge blueprint, claiming a record seven Golden Slippers, her latest with Farnan in 2020.

Peter and Paul Snowden are consistently around the mark at the business end of the two-year-old season and Chris Waller has embraced the challenge of producing high-end results after forming an alliance with global breeding entity Coolmore.

Top 11 priced yearlings from 2023 Australian sales season

Sire Dam Name Trainer Race record Price
I Am Invincible Anaheed Unnamed Chris Waller Unraced $2.7m
Zoustar Solar Charged Clean Energy Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Unraced $2.6m
I Am Invincible Booker The Railway Man Ciaron Maher and David Eustace Unraced $2.5m
I Am Invincible Flippant Invincible Claire Peter and Paul Snowden Unraced $2m
The Autumn Sun Via Africa Unnamed Chris Waller Unraced $1.8m
Exceed and Excel Ichihara Unnamed Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Unraced $1.8m
Pierro Ennis Hill Pretty Annabel Neasham Unraced $1.75m
I Am Invincible Mossfun He's Dynamite Team Hawkes Unraced $1.65m
Snitzel Ultimate Fever Unnamed Chris Waller Unraced $1.6m
I Am Invincible Spright Unnamed Chris Waller Unraced $1.6m
I Am Invincible Tumooh Bodyguard Peter and Paul Snowden Listed winner $1.6m

Million-dollar yearlings these days are nothing out of the ordinary in what continues to be an Australian bloodstock market immune to outside pressures.

Forty-seven horses sold for more than $1 million across the Magic Millions Gold Coast, Inglis Australian Easter Yearling and the Premier Yearling sales during 2023 and the early signs are encouraging for this elite crop with graduates already banking three wins at stakes level.

That is almost a five-fold increase on the number sold a decade earlier, reflecting a surge in Australian prize money levels that has attracted international attention.

On the books of the aforementioned trio of stables are more than half of the 47 yearlings that topped $1 million during 2023.

Waller has been entrusted with 10 of those youngsters, including a colt by I Am Invincible from the Group Two winner Anaheed (Fastnet Rock), the most expensive yearling sold for the year at $2.7 million and knocked down at the Gold Coast to Coolmore’s Tom Magnier.

Waterhouse and her training partner Adrian Bott were by no means idle to ensure they had the ammunition to land an eighth Slipper.

They have welcomed seven yearlings that made more than $1 million, including a $2.6 million Magic Millions filly purchased by Yulong Investments’ Yuesheng Zhang.

A sister to Sunlight (Zoustar), who banked three Group One wins during an outstanding 24-start career, she was Australia’s highest-priced filly in 2023.

The Zoustar x Solar Charged filly sold for $2.6 million (Photo: Magic Millions)

The filly has been named Clean Energy and she made her first public appearance when runner-up in a Randwick barrier trial in late November.

Not surprisingly, Waterhouse and Bott hit the ground running when their $1 million colt Espionage (Zoustar x In Times Of War) was too fast and too strong for his 10 rivals in the Breeders’ Plate (1000m) at Randwick to lay down an early-season marker.

Espionage was among a package of colts James Harron purchased last year and he is also the bloodstock agent behind another above-average debutant, the Listed Maribyrnong Trial Stakes winner Bodyguard for the Snowden stable.

Bodyguard (I Am Invincible x Tumooh) cost $1.6 million at Magic Millions as Snowden clients opened the purse strings, sending 10 yearlings to the Randwick stable in a spend that more than doubled their total million-dollar purchases between 2020 to 2022.

The most expensive was a filly by I Am Invincible from former stable performer Flippant (Hinchinbrook), a four-time stakes winner across 24 starts.

Named Invincible Claire, she made $2 million on the Gold Coast when sold to American owner Tammy Rigney.

Half-siblings to Bodyguard and Espionage will be offered at the 2024 Magic Millions Gold Coast sale.

Among Australia’s new generation of trainers, Annabel Neasham continues to attract top-end support.

Neasham signed for two million-dollar yearlings, including a $1.75 million purchase by Pierro from Ennis Hill (Fastnet Rock) from the Australian Easter Yearling Sale.

A half-sister to the Neasham-trained Learning To Fly (Justify), the filly has been named Pretty.

Three prominent training partnerships with their primary stables outside of NSW, led the buying statistics as a trickle of million-dollar horses found homes with Melbourne stables.

Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr will train five of them, including a quartet purchased by established stable backer Sheamus Mills.

The most expensive is a $1.45 million filly named Rambling, a daughter of Zoustar from Fuddle Dee Duddle (Red Ransom).

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace acquired three seven-figure horses with a $2,5 million Magic Millions graduate an obvious highlight.

The first foal of the Group One-winning mare Booker (Written Tycoon), the colt is by I Am Invincible and he will race as The Railway Man.

Peter Moody and his co-trainer Katherine Coleman headed into the 2022/23 racing season with three million-dollar plus purchases - all fillies.

At $1.35 million, an I Am Invincible filly who is the second foal of the Group One Coolmore Classic-winning mare Heavens Above, is the most expensive of the trio.

She will race as Heavenly Shades under business tycoon Bruce Wilson’s Glentree Thoroughbreds banner.

Moody and Coleman also train Eneeza, a $1.1 million filly by Exceed And Excel from Sweet Sherry who made a huge impression at the end of the Victorian spring carnival.

Eneeza made an eye-catching debut when runner-up in the Group 3 Ottawa Stakes over 1000m at Flemington before signing off from her campaign at Caulfield with an impressive win in the Merson Cooper Stakes over 1000m at Listed level in December.

While having the confidence to outlay a seven-figure sum on an Australian-bred yearling is now commonplace, the fascination with these bluebloods never diminishes.

Not all will make the same impression on the racetrack as they did in the sale ring.

The odds are stacked against the millionaire graduates of 2023 earning enough prize money to match their price tags

But there are other factors at play such as stallion potential, residual value as a broodmare and a Hong Kong sale that can ultimately make the outlay return a profit.

And that’s why there will always be a high level of scrutiny and a weight of expectation on a young horse to draw and engage a captive audience.