The Bloodstock Manager and auctioneer at Magic Millions, Clint Donovan has spent years honing his craft and taking part in some of the most historic moments in the sales ring. Here he explains more about his role and how he got there.
I grew up on the back of a horse mustering cattle with my father in Clarence Valley so I had a love of the horse from the start but it wasn’t until my teens when I went to the track that I was involved in the racing industry. Much like many Australians, I watched our champions race but it was when I discovered the breeding industry that I was hooked and sold.
Steward Ramsey rang up Paul Knight for me because I had been working as a bid spotter and auctioneer. Paul was the Bloodstock Manager at the time and Stewart said “hey this guy’s a bid spotter and an auctioneer, I think you should give him a go.” But before I started at Magic Millions I wanted to create my own auctioneering style so I went away and did a few other things.
I did a bit of jackarooing and worked in sale yards in Rome and developed my auctioneering style. When I was ready to, Paul and Stewart got me involved as a bid spotter at Magic Millions and I was off from there. I left Magic Millions to hone my craft elsewhere for a few years but returned to the company on an exclusive basis in 2014. These days, I’m not only the auctioneer but also the Bloodstock Manager. Because of that role I have a lot better understanding of how the actual Magic Millions catalogue is brought together, which helps me as an auctioneer as well.
We host a lot of sales around the country throughout the year but for a few months every Spring, our biggest focus is putting together the catalogue for the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
During that time, we spend six to eight weeks traveling thousands of kilometres. There is a team of 12 of us trying to get into every single paddock of every single stud farm in Australia. We look at over 3,500 horses between the first week of August and early October to try and find the best catalogue we can. A big part of this process is looking at physicals to choose horses we think are athletes for the Magic Millions sale.
Another part of my job is traveling to talk to potential buyers abroad mostly through Europe and Asia. It’s great to get out and spread the word not only about Magic Millions but also about the Australian industry and getting new money involved.
There are a lot of rewards being a member of the bloodstock team at Magic Millions but my favourite moments come as an auctioneer. There are dozens and potentially hundreds of cases where a breeder has put a lot of money into a service fee with their mare, they brought the resulting horse to the sale hoping for a great result and the horse sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their expectation. That’s probably my number one reward is seeing that satisfaction. We’ve had people in tears because they were so happy and that’s the best thing for me. When you hit the bulls eye, it’s very rewarding.
There are so many rewarding moments in this industry and your opportunities are endless. If you put effort into getting a start, there’s no doubt you’ll get one.
Get involved and talk to every person. Nobody is inaccessible in the racing industry, ninety-nine percent of people in the industry I come across whether they’re worth a billion dollars or one dollar, you can go out and say g’day. If you’ve got the same common interest in the horse, you’re away.
The number one point of advice from me is don’t take yourself too seriously, have a smile on your face. If you show you’re dedicated and friendly, you’ll get a chance.