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Magic Millions 2016: Zara Phillips steals the show

With more than $100 million of horse flesh under the hammer and Australia's richest single race day declared a stunning success, it was a royal who captivated most eyes at the Gold Coast Turf Club for the 2016 Magic Millions race day.

While not quite a day at Flemington or Randwick let alone Royal Ascot, the Gold Coast Turf Club did boast a bit of blue blood on Saturday as the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips and her former rugby player husband Mike Tindall became the star attractions on a race day which has cemented itself firmly on the Australian racing circuit.

Zara Phillips and husband Mike Tindall were the talk of the Magic Millions race day.
Zara Phillips and husband Mike Tindall were the talk of the Magic Millions race day. Photo: Ken Butti

Magic Millions owners Katie Page-Harvey and her husband Gerry Harvey hosted this year's event from inside an elaborate marquee.

"It's great, Kate and Gerry have both put a lot of effort into it and it has really come into its own," declared Phillips, who has been juggling her duties as Magic Millions ambassador, horse owner and mother of toddler Mia.

Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell.
Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell. Photo: Ken Butti

While  Phillips said she would resist the urge to buy any more horses, it was clear her passion for all things equine remains as strong as ever, especially as she prepares for her potential inclusion in the equestrian team at this year's Rio Olympics.

Tindall on the other hand admitted he knew little about anything remotely horsey before he fell in love with Phillips, the pair embracing warmly throughout the day and clearly enjoying the sunshine and each other's company.

"Mia our daughter has inherited a love of horses, she has a Shetland pony and she enjoys it so I think her mum has passed that love on ... me on the other hand, well I'm more of a football man," Tindall joked.

This year's yearling sales are running around 37 per cent ahead of this time last year according to Page-Harvey, who said it was proving to be a "bumper" year for the Magic Millions. Horse sales were averaging $200,000 a horse – one of the strongest results in the event's history.

Anthony Minichiello and Terry Biviano.
Anthony Minichiello and Terry Biviano. Photo: Ken Butti

"Our dollar is helping, buyers are coming from all over the world and a lot more from Asia. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year ... we have tried to create something unique here and this year it's Dorothy Draper visits the Gold Coast ... I think it really has established itself as a major event on the racing calendar," the retail dynamo told PS.

Elsewhere in the marquee the likes of John Singleton entertained his American girlfriend Vanessa Merrin, clearly happy with the sales his Strawberry Farm yearlings had been generating, including last week's $1.6 million sale.

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall with Magic Millions owner and host Katie Page-Harvey.
Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall with Magic Millions owner and host Katie Page-Harvey. Photo: Ken Butti

As temperatures soared to 30 degrees and the sun shined brightly, beyond the VIP marquees the public bars were filled to overflowing with average punters. As one race goer wearing thongs and shorts shouted to his wife, who had adorned herself with a home-made feathery fascinator "who needs the bloody Birdcage".