There’s nothing like bidding for the next Black Caviar.
It’s even more exciting when you have next to no money.
It was at the Magic Millions sale many years ago, that I nearly walked away with a superstar. For someone else.
It’s true that cool drinks had been involved. For much of the afternoon. Even so, I had no intention of raising my arm.
Singo, however, had other ideas. He was a part-owner of the sale at the time. And he had a plan. That I knew nothing about.
One of the joys of sharing drinks with the great man is the endless procession of interesting people who come to the table. The shout could include Johnny Raper and Dawn Fraser. Alan Jones might take a seat, opposite Tommy Raudonikis. Another old mate from footy days would be sipping a beer with the vet. Next to a journo who no-one knew.
The longer the day went, the more likely it was that Singo would add another horse to his stable. Often at the suggestion of one of his guests.
But not this one. He’d written the Lot number on his hand. It could still be seen, through smudgings from sauce and XXXX Gold.
That’s where things got crazier than usual. For reasons not fully known, the multi-millionaire decided that I should do the bidding for him.
At first, I thought he was joking. It made no sense. Especially given I had no cents. But he was in the middle of a deep conversation. Possibly about Newtown’s grand final loss or Strawberry Road’s overseas mission. So he needed someone to raise a hand. Apparently mine was the only one left.
I pretended to be cool, as the bids came in tens. Thousands, that is. From memory, my first entry into the auction was at 40-thousand. With a shaking hand, and a voice that resembled Minnie Mouse.
To add to the sheer lunacy of it all, I was bidding against someone at Bart Cumming’s table. Possibly for the Cups King himself. If only he knew.
It was when we reached 100-thousand dollars, that I started to consider what I’d gotten myself into. It seemed Singo was paying absolutely no attention to me. He could leave at any second. And I had all of ten dollars in my pocket.
I started to wonder how the conversation would go at home. ‘Dear, we need to sell the house. I just bought a yearling. Showed Bart how it’s done. The girls are always talking about wanting to go camping. Now they can LIVE in a tent’.
The auctioneer was looking directly at me. He wanted more. Others in the room were no doubt wondering who this badly dressed bloke was making such outrageous bids. My sweat started to drip into Dawn’s beer.
And just then, as I was contemplating making a run for it, never to show my face in racing circles again, Singo put me out of my misery. ‘No more’, he said, quietly but firmly. He’d been listening all along. With that, he went back into his conversation. And I slumped, exhausted, in my chair.
I’m certain no-one less qualified has ever gone so close to sealing such a deal. My inept performance was the source of much mirth later in the evening.
Singo went on to buy many more horses. Some superstars, some not. After that night, I’m pretty sure he did the bidding for all of them himself.
If you end up in the sales ring tonight, after Heza Jetsetter storms home to win the million dollar race for 3 year olds, remember the following tips, from someone who’s been at the coal face.
Speak loudly and clearly. Raise your hand high. Don’t be put off by those bidding against you. And if possible, have Singo’s wallet in your pocket.