It’s true, we all like to think our geese are swans, but it’s a fact that at last week’s gallops, the judges panel were pretty unanimous in their belief that this was as good a crop of Ready To Run horses as have ever left Summerhill; given the history, that’s some statement. The traffic on our website and the post gallops referendum, tells us that interest in the draft is at an all-time high. The horses arrived at Inanda Club yesterday morning, all in one piece; if it’s nothing else, it’s a tribute to their temperaments and their handlers that 112 horses, on their maiden journey, got here unscathed.
The Inanda Club was founded by the business colossi Harry Oppenheimer, Eric Gallo and Punch Barlow as long ago as 1934, and it is one of Africa’s celebrated landmarks. Here we are in a rural setting, just a half kilometre from the dominant skyline of Africa’s most valuable real estate: Sandton City, the headquarters of Liberty Life, FNB and Momentum decorate the near horizon; surreal. Jo’burg has never seen anything quite like this: a racehorse sale bang in the midst of the “mink” belt.
Only David Mollett, Business Day and The Citizen’s inimitable columnist, could ask you to name your top three picks in the sale. When a draft is as deep as this one, that’s like asking a parent to choose his favourite child, though there’s always the temptation in a trendy game like racing, to opt for the latest in style, where the Visionaires were universally fancied, not only by the judges, but by the public as well. As a racehorse, Bankable was never to be outdone, and you might want to “bank” on his second career as well; Michael Roberts, Felix Coetzee and Craig Peters were far from alone among the aficionados taken by the uncanny resemblance his progeny displayed at the business end of their workouts. Of course, Visionaire is already something of a celebrity with his first runners in the United States, which explains the “heat”, and there’s a load of sentiment among South Africans for the first and only crop of Bankable on the back of some tingling moments from his days in Dubai. Besides, there’s a good sprinkling of the tried-and-tested in this catalogue; household names like Var, Silvano, Captain Al and Fort Wood, the Australian stars, Redoute’s Choice, Encosta de Lago, Exceed and Excel and High Chaparral, and for us, a touch of nostalgia around the sale of the last “Summerhill” Kahals and Muhtafals; the former stands at the head of the national sires’ log right now, and between them, they were major players in the deliverance of our Breeders’ Championships over the years.
We’ve always thought there was something mundane about a Formula One motor race dominated by a multiple champion like Michael Schumacher, who hops out in front and screeches past, lap-after-lap, to the inevitable chequered flag. When the line-up is ordinary, Ready To Run gallops can be a bit of a tedium too, but last Friday had a touch of panache to it, not only in the attendees, but especially in the Thoroughbreds it revealed: no wonder Ferrari has one on every bonnet.
We’re all on the edge of our seats for the publication of this week’s Ready To Run log, and it’s clear from the phone calls that there are many others in the same boat. None of us have ever known an 85 second sporting contest with R3.85million on the line, so the enquiries have not been limited to the connections alone. While it was a Summerhill initiative in the first place, we obviously have no role to play in who gets the nod, but we do have a part in producing our share of the horses that make the line-up. Last year, we sold 38% of the catalogue, yet in last week’s Top 20, there were 11 (or 55%) Summerhill graduates with a shot at a run. What’s “catchy” about the Ready To Run, is that it’s the democracy of the turf at its best, and it’s always been that way. We buyers can be frightfully fashion-conscious, which means there’s always a chance for the investor with a smart eye for a good galloper and a less than commercial pedigree. The Ready To Run’s history is littered with stars who were once the unwanted orphans of the sales ring, the likes of the champion 3 year old miler, Imbongi, the Highveld Horse Of The Year, Pierre Jourdan, the Group One sprinter Fanyana, Jay Peg’s Guineas nemesis, Dynamite Mike, the champion stayer Amphitheatre, and the winning-most racehorse of all time, Hear The Drums, only one of whom cost more than R60,000, and none of whom knew who their fathers or mothers were. By contrast, two of the most memorable fillies to graduate from what has become the country’s fastest growing racehorse sale, Igugu and Hollywoodboulevard, made a million rand and R950,000 respectively; the connoisseurs will tell you, they were dirt cheap at the price.
With three months interest-free credit available to buyers, it’s apparent that the old adage has come true again: there’s a horse for everyone at our Ready To Run.
Please contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to apply for a buyer’s card.