By MARK OBERHARDT & HARRY CLARKE
YOUNG Basil Nolan junior has been coming to the Magic Millions for literally his entire life.
He was only months old, in a stroller, the first time he attended the annual horse sale on the Gold Coast, there with his father, Basil Nolan and grandfather Basil Nolan Snr.
The Nolans’ Raheen Stud, based in the Gladfield Valley near Warwick, has been selling horses through the Magic Millions ring ever since the very first sale in 1987.
Sadly, young Basil’s father is no longer here, having died in a farming accident only weeks before the 2019 event, but each year the whole Nolan family returns and honours his name on the racetrack and sales ring.
“I’ve been alive for 17 years and I’ve been to every Magic Millions sale in that time,” Basil said.
“It’s really satisfying to bring horses here that you’ve raised since they were foals, seeing their growth and selling them as beautiful horses.
“Dad loved the sales, and he loved this sale in particular – the thrill of it, seeing his horses go through the ring.
“He just loved selling horses. He was good at talking to people and he was honest, and people saw that.”
The Magic Millions yearling sales and associated race day – the richest in Queensland- draws the sport’s elite from interstate and international ranks.
Among the first “locals” the visitors seek out are members of the Nolan family.
Racing folk often joke that a heredity chart is needed to unravel the Nolan’s links to breeding and training in the state.
Leading the way is Basil Nolan senior who is the principal of Raheen Stud.
The Nolan family established Raheen in 1957 and its first major winner was the 1959 Queensland Oaks winner Golden Stockade.
In the years since Raheen had been associated with hundreds of winners across Australia.
Basil Nolan has been a major player in Queensland racing as a breeder and owner but also had a successful stint as a bookmaker.
In recent years he has tasted Millions success as a breeder of the 2019 Magic Millions QTIS race winner Chapter and Verse.
Bred by Basil junior, Chapter and Verse will contest the Millions Cup on Saturday.
It will be in the sales yard where Nolan hopes to again have plenty of success, and having been selling here from the start, there are few with the same level of experience.
“When we first came most of the area was a swamp, so I’ve seen it all evolve,” he said.
“The first sale was restricted to 200 horses. A very good judge came to me and said there’d be no good horses come out of this sale, and then a horse called Snippets popped up.
“So it was off and away after that. It went through a few rocky patches but it’s always come back and stood up. It’s a great concept.
“When it became the richest race day in Queensland with million dollar races, everyone wanted to be here.”
While Nolan stands several sires at Raheen including the former top stakes performer Heroic Valour, the stud is home to many well bred mares who have been served by a Who’s Who of Australia’s top sires.
Raheen will present lots by super sires Zoustar, Sebring and Pierro as well as other notable stallions such as Better Than Ready, Wandjina and Soobig.
Basil’s nephew Michael Nolan is one of the state’s most successful trainers and follows in the footsteps of his father Paul Nolan, Basil’s brother, as a regular feature race winner.
Paul Nolan is now retired but had some top horses such as dual Cups winner Paul’s Folly.
Michael Nolan will will have one of five Queensland trained horses in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic field with Princess Bojack.
Michael Nolan won the 1999 Group One Doomben 10,000 with Lauries Lottery and has had hundreds of winners since.
They include some outstanding gallopers such as Jumbo Prince, Kenconcarne, Upstart Pride, Princess Margaret, Prince Hakeem, etc.
He trains Kisukano who is regarded as the best three year old filly in Queensland.
But he will rely on Princess Bojack this Saturday.
She won her first start in a race at Eagle Farm and hasn’t been far away in two runs since a spell.
The filly cost $50,000 as a yearling and is another example of Michael Nolan’s eye for a value horse.
“She has drawn barrier five and should get a nice run from there,” Michael Nolan said.
“She is a big price but you never know what can happen in big races run at a frantic pace.”
The Millions is often painted as a playground for the jet set but with people such as the Nolans involved it will always be popular with the rank and file of the racing world.