Yes definately a bargain. Most of the BIG horses seem to have been bargains that were written of or very cheap. To name a few:
Oaklee Groover - ridden by Rebel Morrow for Australia at Athens. Bought for $300 as a failed racehorse on way to knackers yard.
Poggio - bronze at WEG and bought for $2500 as a five year old when he was being used as a pack horse in the mountains, having already had a failed racing career.
Limestone Rise - I believe was given to Pully Jackson a few years ago as he had failed several vettings and so owners were writing him off. Has now completed Badminton and Burghley god knows how many times.
Drunken Disorderly - owner decided a few years ago that he was no longer 'bothered' with the eventing business and so just signed horse's papers over to Tanya and Gillian Kyle. The horse then went on to Athens in 2004, Blenheim and won the Eventers Grand Prix and the British Open Indoor XC this year.
I am sure that there are many others but it does seem that these top horses have mostly started out as the 'bargains' that no one thought would succeed.
There seem to be two or three different stories flying around about exactly where Toytown came from! H&H ad...pony club rally...or simply that Meryl phoned up Mark saying I have a good horse come and look at it!
I seriously doubt that Toytown would have been a cheap buy for the Phillips. Meryl had had several very good placings at Novice and Pre Nov with him and he had consistant clear rounds. He was also jumping 1m 40 tracks at home when the Phillips went to try him out. So dont see how that would be a £4k horse!
the version i heard was that Meryl contacted Mark and said that she had a good horse for him to look at, he did, liked him and the rest is history!!!!!
I heard that he was 'cheap' but didn't actually hear a price......... i would imagine that they meant cheap considering what he has gone on to do but not neccesarilly a cheap horse - if that makes sense..........so simmilar price to all the others at that age jumping those tracks (so not really that cheap) but in hindsight cheap as the others that fetched that price didn't go on to win the european and world titles!!!