Michael Bleby Reporter

Michael writes on emerging markets, architecture and engineering. He has served as a correspondent in Tokyo, London and Johannesburg and has written for Reuters, the Financial Times, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Tinkler’s yearling sales out of the Magic Millions gate

Published 13 January 2013 20:46, Updated 29 November 2013 09:57

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Tinkler’s yearling sales out of the Magic Millions gate

By Friday morning, Nathan Tinkler had sold four horses for a total of $500,000. Photo: Glenn Hunt

One-time billionaire Nathan Tinkler has raised just $780,000 by selling 10 horses in the Gold Coast Magic Millions thoroughbred auction over the weekend, meaning the cash-strapped former coalmine electrician and BRW Rich Lister is going to need to keep looking for ways to provide some relief to his financial situation.

Tinkler’s best result was for a colt by sire Onemorenomore, which fetched $200,000. The average price of horses sold by Tinkler’s Patinack Farms is so far just $78,400. Tinkler has so far had three lots passed in without being sold, and another four lots withdrawn from sale. Tinkler will offer a total of 17 horses at the sale that started on January 9 and ends on January 15. The annual Magic Millions event is owned by retail mogul Gerry Harvey .

Results from the “premier” sessions of the Magic Millions sale, which concluded on Saturday night, suggest a small recovery in the thoroughbred sector. Gross sales across the four sessions totalled $67.67 million compared to $62.57 million last year, with the average sale price rising from $127,175 to $136,172. The clearance rate was a healthy 83 per cent.

Gai Waterhouse was the leading buyer, securing 27 lots with her bloodstock partner James Harron for just over $6 million. Waterhouse will also train the most expensive horse at the sale, a colt by sire Fastnet Rock which fetched $1.35 million.

Tinkler’s financial fall has been as dramatic as his rise. He risked everything he had in 2006 to acquire the Middlemount coal deposit in Queensland, which he sold a year later to Macarthur Coal. In 2008, he sold the Macarthur shares he received from the Middlemount sale for $441 million in cash. He has borrowed heavily, however, and falling share prices for his main asset, a 20 per cent stake in Whitehaven Coal, and creditor demands for payment have left him fighting multiple battles and short on cash. His wealth peaked in 2011 at $1.13 billion, but slumped to $400 million last year.

The Australian Taxation Office made an application last month to wind up his Hunter Sports Group, which holds his interests in the Newcastle Knights National Rugby League team and the Newcastle Jets A-League football club, over a $2.7 million tax debt. His private jet and helicopter have been repossessed. Race clubs have withheld almost $600,000 from Tinkler’s racehorse winnings to offset his debts.

Tinkler, who spent up to $300 million establishing his Patinack Farm horse breeding operation, is unwinding that as well. A fire sale in October of 202 brood mares, some of which were sold at a 98 per cent discount on what he paid for them, gave him $2 million. Last month, he sold champion racehorse All Too Hard and a stud farm to Harvey’s Vinery Stud for $28 million.

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