If Gai Waterhouse’s predictions are on the money, equine influenza may have been a blessing in disguise for the Darling Downs.

The champion trainer yesterday toured a number of the region’s studs on the hunt for the next “big thing” ahead of January’s Magic Millions sales, tipping Queensland horses to be among the best on offer.

Waterhouse believes the quarantine enforced by the 2007-2008 equine influenza outbreak will have worked in the favour of Queensland breeders, ensuring top bloodlines remained concentrated in the state during that time.

“As everyone knows, the Magic Millions sales are on in January and it is very much representative of Queensland horses as well as those from around the nation,” Waterhouse said.

“It is important especially in the year of EI when a lot of the horses here never left Queensland, they stayed here in Queensland.

“If ever there was going to be a champion bred with speed on speed and precocious Queensland size and great bloodlines this year will be it.”

For the past four years Waterhouse has made an annual pilgrimage to studs on the Darling Downs, a region she associates with producing quality racing stock.

“We have done around 12 studs today. We started at Glenlogan (Park Stud) at Beaudesert and worked our way up to Warwick,” Waterhouse said.

“The last four years I have come up with my team. We go around the studs see 600 of 1100 (horses) on offer and see the rest in January.

“There is quality here. They have good bones, good size because of the lovely weather and have great forearms on them. We seem to be writing much the same thing in our notes about the horses — there is a pattern here.”

Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse with mare Retract at Highgrove Stud yesterday 
Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse with mare Retract at Highgrove Stud yesterday (Photo courtesy of The Chronicle)

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