Six thousand dollars does not go very far these days. But three young engineers spent that yesterday on a few hundred kilograms of horse flesh.
Rick Wilkins, 30, and brothers Trevor Oliver, 23, and Jeff Oliver, 30, took a punt on an unraced filly at the first session of the Magic Millions yearling sales at Belmont Park.
While the likes of top trainer Neville Parnham and high-profile owner Craig Thompson, of Mt Hallowell Stud and Seacorp fame, were prepared to write out six-figure cheques, the little blokes were looking for a bargain. And it seems they got one.
"It's an absolute gift," said Kiwi auctioneer Steve Davis as he knocked down the filly bred by Anita Vale Stud in Mardella, near Serpentine.
Trainer Warren Radford did the bidding for the young syndicate and when asked if it was a gamble, chuckled: "Just a slight one. There are no rules to it, despite what they tell you."
Parnham, who was among the few hundred local and international buyers, was not so sure.
"You try to eliminate all the risks," he said after paying $120,000 for a bay colt which is a three-quarter brother to his highly successful Playing God. "You look for defects and you look at the X-rays. You look for an exceptional athlete, a horse that's light on its feet."
But even Parnham knows there's no such thing as a certain winner.
"There are horses that get sold for millions of dollars and nobody knows if they've got it," he said. "It can be sudden death if they don't shape up."
Nobody in the Wilkins and Oliver syndicate was thinking about that. "It was a bit of luck," Mr Wilkins said. "We were prepared to pay a little bit more, so there will be a few extra beers tonight."
And first-time owner Trevor Oliver could not wipe the smile off his face.
"I didn't think I'd get this nervous," he said. <div class="endnote">