Johannesburg, South Africa
21st April 2017

You’d expect it of a farm that has been at the head of the nation’s breeding affairs for most of the new millennium, yet it would be remiss of Summerhill if it didn’t share its faith in the horses it’s just sent to Jo’burg.

“Never take the market for granted”, they’ve always said, more so when times are tough and buyers are searching for value. In a draft of no more than a baker’s dozen, you’d be looking for a high concentration of quality in any Champion’s draft, and you don’t have to venture beyond the first 16 lots to find it. We all know that the advantages of raising your catalogue in the first twenty lots of a racehorse sale rest with the smart buyer; it’s like having first “dig” on a flat track in cricket. Astonishingly, Summerhill has almost half of the first 16 to take strike, and in an entry which includes sons and daughters of the marquee stallions Silvano, Duke Of Marmalade and Var, as well as a healthy sprinkling of the new pretender, Visionaire, you’d want to be there when the auctioneers ring the bell for the start of business.

Lot 47 SWEET PRESERVE (Duke Of Marmalade X Surfers Eye)

The big, flashy Var colt is from former Fillies’ Guineas laureate and millionairess, Fisani, while the Silvano is out of Group-winning Elegant Blush and is a half-brother to last week’s Brave Tin Soldier first-timer, Elegant General. As striking a page as any in the catalogue, belongs to Sweet Preserve (Lot 47), the Duke Of Marmalade half-sister to four Black-type performers, one millionaire, one three-quarter millionaire and two half-millionaires.

“V” for Value…

While his progeny have been burning it up in KZN of late, the exploits of the Visionaires have by no means been confined to coastal climes. Yes, Africa Rising has elevated himself to the top of the boards for the KZN Guineas, and he’s among the leading 3 year old entries for the Durban July; yes, Breakfast Club gave notice on Friday evening that he’s ready for big company, and yes, we saw an enthralling five-and-a-half length debut victory from Garth Puller’s juvenile Real Vision, hinting at possible glory in the Group One features in May.

Preceding these performances by a matter of days, The Thinker grabbed the breaths of everybody at Turffontein in a last-to-first demolition of a quality line-up over 1000m. That was three from five. From the outside draw on the inside track and the back of the field, nogal! Johan Janse van Vuuren says he’s ready for Group company, and no-one on course that day would doubt him.

Of course, Visionaire needs little advertising; he was the nation’s leading Freshman sire with his first South African crop, which included one of the swiftest juveniles of her generation. It also included a Gauteng Guineas victrix, a Group One-performer over 2000m and a colt who’d run Marinaresco to a length in the Winter Guineas (Gr.2). Toss in Lala’s second in the Flamboyant Stakes (Gr.3) and for good measure Supercilious’ 5 wins and a Black-type performance for Joey Ramsden, and you have a good dozen Feature race “chalks” in a tight space of time. With his second crop only now warming up for their Classic year (including two Group One-performing juveniles of last season), Visionaire has laid down an indelible marker; ranked firmly in the “Big Five” sires of three year olds this year on virtually every chart that matters, not even a disadvantage in numbers can keep a good man down. They’ll be there at Emperors Palace this week in sufficient quality and quantity to warm the coals of even the thriftiest investors.