In just seven years, Magic Millions Racing Women (MMRW) has inspired thousands of women around the world to become actively involved in thoroughbred horse racing and has injected millions of dollars into the industry.
Nearly 1000 horses have been registered over seven years for the $500,000 Bonus on offer for all-female owned or leased horses in the $2 million 2YO Classic, now conducted on The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Raceday, with more than $22 million invested alone in the purchase of horses targeting the Bonus for this coming January at Magic Millions Yearling Sales during 2018.
Introduced in 2012 as a way to encourage greater participation, recognition and development of women in the thoroughbred horse racing industry, Magic Millions co-owner Katie Page says the initiative has exceeded all possible expectations.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Magic Millions Racing Women effect,” Page said. “It seems the lure of a $500,000 Bonus was just the trigger many women needed to step into active ownership. We knew the expertise and passion was always equal to men. You only have to go to the Magic Millions January Sales to see how well represented women are behind the scenes.
“Zara Phillips MBE signed on as MMRW Patron almost from the start, she had witnessed first-hand the inexplicable thrill that only comes from watching your horse finish first past the post. She was a big part of taking the MMRW message to the UK and Europe.
“We’re particularly delighted to see the way word has spread and the impact Magic Millions Racing Women is having on the international racing scene. One of the most successful syndicates, ‘It’s All About the Girls’, brings together 40 women from eight different countries. This means that these women now have connections to stud farms and trainers around the world and that they are at the cutting edge of developments in world racing.
“In the UAE, Phoenix Thoroughbreds has created the first female-only syndicate and Japan now has ‘Umajo’ – areas exclusively for female customers at racetracks.
“The Bonus was established in response to the women we knew were already horse-lovers, but what has caught us all by surprise is the growth in participation amongst women with no previous connection to the thoroughbred industry. Now they’re catching up on a regular basis, making decisions about trainers, race schedules, designing colours and enjoying the thrill and fun of a day at the track.
“I think if you examined the data in each of the major markets, thoroughbred racing would come close to the fastest growing female participation sport in the world – granted it was coming off a low base.”
Irishwoman Elaine ‘Legs’ Lawlor, who runs the Australian investments in ‘It’s All About the Girls’ and is a Board Member of Ireland’s Goffs Bloodstock, is one of the most influential women on the world racing scene and says MMRW was just what the industry needed.
“Women are brilliant when they get together. They make things happen,” Lawlor said. “For so long, women watched their husbands who were involved in the business, but weren’t involved themselves. Those times are changing. When they’ve invested in their own horse, they bring so much energy, they have so much fun and the friendships we’ve all formed are just fantastic.
“Magic Millions Racing Women is the only incentive anywhere in the world specifically encouraging women to get involved and it has sparked something special in our industry.
“It’s also highlighting the benefits of syndication which isn’t very big in Europe just yet. Syndication gives more people more access to a horse without costing the world, it opens the industry up and gets more people involved.”
Queensland racing identity Linda Huddy is keen to one day claim the MMRW Bonus and joined Katie Page at the official launch of the 2019 The Star Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival.
“Magic Millions Racing Women is changing perceptions and changing the industry,” Ms Huddy said. “This isn’t a man’s world, women are very welcome. I’m noticing the changes in racebooks where there are more women listed as owners, on Racing Australia and at the track where more women are dressing up, enjoying a glass of champagne and cheering on their horses.”
This unique incentive has led to:
Increased female ownership: 998 2YO thoroughbreds being registered as solely owned (or leased) by women over the seven years the initiative has been in operation. Many of these contain first time owners – nearly 50% of the 170 registrations for the 2019 MMRW Bonus contain first time owners.
Increased sales: $22.6 million worth of yearlings purchased for the Racing Women’s Bonus during the 2018 Magic Millions Yearling Sales Series. Investment that invigorates the breeding and syndication of yearlings.
Women competing: A total of 30 MMRW eligible 2YOs have competed in the $2 million 2YO Classic, since the 2YO race was first run with the MMRW Bonus on offer in 2013.
Women winning: MMRW syndicates have won three of the six $2 million 2YO Classics since inception of the Bonus – Real Surreal (2013), Le Chef (2015) and Sunlight (2018). Each win in turn creating the largest prizemoney payouts in Queensland racing history.
More jobs: 70 trainers from across ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, VIC and New Zealand have picked up extra work training MMRW horses.