Last Friday's Glenlands Droughtmaster sale at Bouldercombe near Rockhampton was full of fairytale endings, none more so than the extraordinary $180,000 paid for the sale's top price Glenlands Prince, this year's Beef Interbreed champion bull and, now, the world's most expensive Droughtmaster sire.
Prince's new owners are hoping their latest acquisition will prove happy ever after, even though Fortrus Pastoral manager Cody Whiteman is feeling the strain that comes with such a high-profile purchase.
"It feels like being in charge of an expensive thoroughbred racehorse, not a bull," he said. "I've been walking around in the paddock where we are going to put him and I'm noticing things that I've never seen before which could hurt him - like 'what if he puts his leg into that hole?' - that sort of stuff."
Mr Whiteman's frayed nerves are likely to be all but threadbare today. Drivers on the Bruce Highway somewhere between Rockhampton and Fortrus Pastoral's home base at Bells Bridge near Gympie should be on the lookout for an anxious looking 29 year old man gripping the wheel of an Isuzu fixed-body truck.
That will be Cody Whiteman, transporting Prince to his new home. Mr Whiteman jokes that the truck will be packed with cotton wool to ensure his royal charge travels in first-class comfort.
"It's about a six hour trip up there but it's probably going to take a lot longer getting back," he said. "I'll be taking it real easy."
If the regal float happens to encounter any dramas, Mr Whiteman no doubt will have to answer to his boss, the publicity-shy and wealthy businessman Paul McDonald, who heads up a string of businesses from his office at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.
Mr McDonald came to prominence last year when concrete king Boral in the search for more raw materials to satisfy Queensland's mining boom, secured his Sunshine Coast Quarries business, comprising a large quarry at Moy Pocket, a smaller quarry at Wondai and a concrete plant at Gympie, for a reported $81.5 million.
In an ironic twist for primary producers threatened by the encroaching resources industry, mining dollars it seems are flowing to the stud cattle business, with resources giant Rio Tinto among the volume buyers at last Friday's Glenlands sale, helping to push the sale average of the 172 bull component of the catalogue to $9372.
Originally from Ballarat, Victoria, Mr McDonald, 51 also has holdings in Evolve Polymer Products USA, Evolve Composites Australia, Fortrus Quarries, Integra Concrete, MCG Group of Companies, Fortrus Sports, Fortrus Fisheries, Integra Resources, Visser Holdings and ML Property.
Earlier this year, a cashed-up Mr McDonald purchased the entire stud breeding inventory of highly-credentialed Baralaba Droughtmaster studmaster Bill Zahnleiter.
The Angle Zed stud acquisition comprised 224 registered female cattle, including 141 PTIC and 60 outstanding number 12 weaner heifers to be joined in 2013.
Also included in the parcel was 65 number 12 weaner bulls as well as some top-name sires including the $36,000 Wajatryn Dynamite and rising stars such as Angle Zed Commandante, Durack Quartpot and Oasis Buster who all have progeny on the ground.
Fortrus Pastoral's semen inventory was also strengthened in the deal with more than 1000 straws transferred including genetics from the $67,500 Rondel Kenzie (deceased) and the $30,000 Barwonga Farm 30 (deceased), sired by Billabong Julia Ceasar and the former National Sale topping bull Orana Isaac.
Mr Whiteman said the past 12 months had seen Fortrus Pastoral undergo a rapid period of expansion with the purchase of five neighbouring properties to cater to the swelling herd numbers.
The expansion follows two years of property infrastructure upgrades that have included the construction of more than five kilometres of new lane way to improve access, 30 km of new fencing and a new set of cattle yards.
Mr Whiteman said the Angle Zed cattle would enter the show ring for the first time next year, but single vendor sales were still many years away despite the publicity boost Fortrus Pastoral was now enjoying.
"It's been pretty hectic the last 12 months so we're just looking to concentrate on producing the best cattle possible for the industry," he said.
Glenlands Prince, whose price-tag eclipses the $150,000 paid for Wolfang Freddo at the 2007 Droughtmaster National, can also expect a period of consolidation. Mr Whiteman said the plan was to run him with a couple of cows immediately to "knock some condition off him", before semen is collected from him and he is given a higher mating load in the stud's joining window from December to January.