Magic Millions auction set to be delayed because staff stranded in NSW and Queensland

Headshot of Ernie Manning
Ernie ManningThe West Australian
Marge Ojapold with Lot 116 from the Ridgeport Holdings draft for the 2022 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale.
Camera IconMarge Ojapold with Lot 116 from the Ridgeport Holdings draft for the 2022 Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale. Credit: Simon Merritt/Simon Merritt / Western Racepix

Perth thoroughbred yearling sales scheduled for February 14-15 are set to be postponed after COVID-19 border control regulations left Magic Millions auction company staff stranded in NSW and Queensland.

Almost 350 young horses are due to be paraded and sold at a Swan Valley equine complex which hosts the annual sales attended in past years by local, interstate and overseas buyers.

“It is almost certain the sale will have to be delayed from mid-February,” Magic Millions WA manager David Houston said on Thursday. “Key members of sales staff, including our technology team, are on a waiting list to enter WA and the delay is indefinite at this stage.” Houston and chief WA horse auctioneer Grant Burns worked at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from January 11-17.

“I was hit by COVID in Queensland, but fortunately got only a mild dose,” Houston said. “I’m in NSW after recovering, but Grant Burns and sales technical staff are caught in Queensland.

“Our applications to re-enter WA have been lodged, but there are thousands of other applicants and we have no date on when our WA entry permits will be processed.

“Taking into account our quarantine requirement after arriving in Perth, it seems impossible we can avoid delaying the sale.

“Hopefully, we can get the sale up and running before late February, otherwise it will clash with interstate sales and feature race meetings.”

Meanwhile, highly rated Melbourne apprentice jockey Campbell Rawiller, 20, has cancelled WA racing plans after encountering border restrictions.

Rawiller, who has landed 126 winners, was due to start riding at Ascot and Belmont Park next week.

“My application to enter WA has been rejected,” Rawiller said on Thursday.

“I’ve made alternate arrangements and will ride in Adelaide for trainer Ryan Balfour’s stable.

“I’ve already got three mounts at Morphettville on Saturday.”

The apprentice is a son of leading Sydney jockey Nash Rawiller and a nephew of Perth-based Brad Rawiller.

Class mare Miss Conteki is favourite for Saturday’s $125,000 Scenic Blast Stakes after trainer Simon Mille decided against travelling her because of COVID.

“She was aimed at Melbourne or Adelaide,” Miller said on Thursday.

“But COVID regulations make horse travel complex.

“Miss Conteki will run this Saturday and in the Cyril Flower Stakes at Ascot a fortnight later. Then, she will be spelled and later brought back for more WA racing.”

Ladbrokes has tightened Miss Conteki from $3.20 to $2.60 for the Scenic Blast Stakes.

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