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Aspirational Malone looks to the future for North

With a first major yearling sale draft under their belt, Mick Malone and the team at North have their eyes firmly set on what the future may look like. The Thoroughbred Report caught up with Malone to learn about the journey so far, and what lies ahead for one of the newest brands in the breeding industry.


Only months removed from stepping away from his long-term role as stud manager at Kitchwin Hills, Mick Malone has gotten his new venture, North, up and running, with the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale providing a vital landmark for the young operation.


With interest, and dollars, directed the way of their draft on the Gold Coast, The Thoroughbred Report caught up with Malone to get his read on the first few months of the enterprise, as well as find out what lies ahead.


Magic Millions gets North off to a strong start

Going straight into the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, one of the biggest globally, gave North a platform to get their name on people’s lips if they had a successful draft.

Reflecting on the first time Malone has taken yearlings to the Bundall complex under the ‘North’ banner, he was quick to praise the team around him, and express gratitude for those who have gotten behind the fledgling farm in such a short amount of time.

“It (the sale) was hard work, but we’ve got a super team, in those situations you are only as good as your staff, so full credit to those guys for helping us.



Pauline Alix and Mick Malone | Image courtesy of North


“Thank you to everyone who's supported us so far, we have been blown away with phone calls, texts, emails, just everyone congratulating (us) on what a great show we had up there and (support in) general has been bloody crazy.


“We had great stock, they're just good quality horses, you can't turn a pig's ear into a handbag, you know, they've got to have that quality, and the horses that we took certainly had that.


“(It was) just a good bunch of yearlings and they were well sought-after because of their quality.”


“(It was) just a good bunch of yearlings and they were well sought-after because of their quality.” - Mick Malone

Boasting a draft of 14, North’s barns were met with a flurry of activity, with Malone and his team consistently kept busy by some major industry names that were showing interest in their stock.


One powerful stable that showed their support was the training duo of Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou, who bought a filly by Ole Kirk for $240,000 and a colt by Farnan for $800,000, the latter being the best result for North across the sale.

“It's quite amazing, I think most vendors will tell you there's a lot smaller number of lookers for a lot more people,” Malone said of the interest in his draft.



Lot 244 - Ole Kirk x Steamboat Sally (filly)




Lot 377 - Farnan x Za Zi Ba (colt)


“So, instead of sending in those big numbers like you used to get before, where a trainer would come and look at your whole draft, it still happens a little bit, but not as much as they used to.


“Sometimes you can go into the sale feeling a little underwhelmed, because the parade numbers might be just down a little bit, but that's (relative to) years before.


“At the end of the day, the good trainers turn up for what they want to see, and people show up on their behalf, but I've got to say, our draft, and maybe it was a little bit of that first hurrah for us at the sale that drew a few more people in to have a look, or even maybe helped with our sale a little bit, was excellent. The support was overwhelming for us.



A yearling from North’s first draft in the pre-parade ring | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

Impressively, 13 of their 14 lots to enter the ring sold, with the only outlier being a colt by Extreme Choice.


All of their draft featured in Book 1, with a number of top stallions such as Capitalist and Russian Revolution represented, as well as boom first-season sires Ole Kirk, Farnan and Wootton Bassett (GB).


“We're in the process of maybe even selling that Extreme Choice so it could be 100 per cent (clearance rate)”, Malone said.

“We're in the process of maybe even selling that Extreme Choice so it could be 100 per cent (clearance rate).” - Mick Malone

“Ole Kirk, he's a new stallion on the block and we had plenty of those to sell. They just looked the part and they sold (like) it. Didn't take long for everyone to realise they were going to be well sought-after within the sale.

“Then the Farnan colt that we sold to Gerald (Ryan), well he's as nice a horse as I've prepared for a long, long time. I’ve never had a colt that has actually handled the whole situation so well, he’s just an absolute beauty.”

“Then the Farnan colt that we sold to Gerald (Ryan), well he's as nice a horse as I've prepared for a long, long time. I’ve never had a colt that has actually handled the whole situation so well, he’s just an absolute beauty.” - Mick Malone

Getting off the ground

In an industry as expansive and historic as racing, where loyalty is often the commodity that produces dollars, starting out fresh, with a new brand, can take a lot of courage and determination.


Having stepped away from Kitchwin Hills, his long-term haunt within the industry, Malone has had to get the business, which resides on the property formerly known as Kanangra, going pretty quickly, with the yearling sales right around the corner.


Asked if there were any particular challenges that stood out when establishing North, Malone said, “Yeah, obviously financially, it was something that we weren't exactly prepared for so financially, we've had to really work hard.


“Startups pretty much start from zero, you know. It was certainly not in any plan book to do what happened. So we pretty much had to bite off and keep chewing, and that's what we did, that was definitely a challenge.

“Startups pretty much start from zero, you know. It was certainly not in any plan book to do what happened. So we pretty much had to bite off and keep chewing, and that's what we did, that was definitely a challenge.” - Mick Malone

“Good staff is a challenge, but I was overwhelmed at the amount of people that were happy to, or wanted to join us, (to) give us a hand which was great.

“So we must have done something right over our time, because we've been well supported, not just by buyers, but certainly by a class of great staff.”


One of the biggest pain points across the industry, particularly in New South Wales owing to a number of false-starts with Government-run training programs, the quality of his staff, many of which he has fostered relationships with over an extended period of time, is a facet of North that Malone is very proud of.


“Even people that worked for us for years and years ago have shown interest in coming back and being involved,” he said.



The excellent staff at North | Image courtesy of North


“Maybe a little bit of why people are happy to work for us is that I guess I started a bit like they did. I just started at Arrowfield, parading yearlings around. I've still got a really good understanding. I'm not saying (it’s) just me, plenty of people in my position (do), but I've got a good understanding of what it takes and the ups and downs of it all.


“So I think it probably helps because I'm there with them, and Pauline (Alix), she works every single day. There's no job that we won't do, so, I think that definitely plays a role.

“So I think it probably helps because I'm there with them, and Pauline (Alix), she works every single day. There's no job that we won't do, so, I think that definitely plays a role (in attracting staff).” - Mick Malone

“It's a team thing, it's not just ‘hey, we'll leave you with it, hang on as best you can.’”


Big plans for the future

Malone has big aspirations for what North could become, with designs on building up a broodmare band that will establish the operation in the future.

For now though, the focus is on quality, not necessarily quantity, at the upcoming yearling sales circuit, with hopes that a steady market can assist Malone and his team in replicating their stellar debut draft results.


“I think at the (Inglis) Classic (Yearling) Sale, we've got a product, that if the market holds up like it has at the Gold Coast, we would hope to have similar results, maybe not as quite as good, but our Classic draft I'm going to say is a really good bunch of horses.


Pauline Alix and Mick Malone, who has big aspirations for North | Image courtesy of North


“They're by the right sort of stallions, and I don't know, it feels like the product's there, for this year especially, and (the Inglis) Easter (Yearling Sale) looks very good for us as well.”

North take 16 lots to the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale next month, with some notable stallions represented, including Too Darn Hot (GB), Farnan, Pierata and Ole Kirk, the quartet all enjoying solid interest on the Gold Coast.



“The future is probably about just numbers, like we're probably a little bit high in numbers,” Malone continued.


“I just want to get that back to a point where it's a real boutique farm, I'd love to get to the point where we are just really strong at Magics and Easter and the higher end of Classic, that's where we want to get to.

“I just want to get that back to a point where it's a real boutique farm, I'd love to get to the point where we are just really strong at Magics and Easter and the higher end of Classic, that's where we want to get to.” - Mick Malone

“I think we've got the clientele to, and obviously we want to invest ourselves over the next few years and build our own broodmare band, that's the plan.”

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