For a son of Northern Dancer, Sadler’s Wells was anointed thus in honour of one of the world’s leading dance venues, which in turn earned its appellation from its original founder, Richard Sadler and the rediscovery of a monastic spring on the property, the waters of which were said to have strong medicinal powers. While we revel in the appropriateness of his association with the world of dance, just as we can in the case of his paternal half-brothers, Nijinsky, Nureyev, Lyphard and The Minstrel, there’s little doubt either about the “powers” of the stallion Sadler’s Wells, who, both as a sire and a sire of sires, was destined to become the most remarkable of all Northern Dancer’s sons.
This is a story about triumph. Napoleon erected the Arc de Triomphe at the top end of the Champs Elysees to commemorate the most prosperous period in French military history. In 1920 the French racing authorities inaugurated the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in salute to the pinnacle of Continental horse racing; on Sunday, what has become Europe’s premier racing contest was renewed for the 96th time, and what a triumph it was.
It’s a hundred and sixteen years since the turn of the nineteenth century, and in that time only eight entities have aspired to the title of Champion Breeder in South Africa, which makes it the tightest-held premiership in all of racing. That Summerhill should’ve arrived at its tenth title in twelve years through a new earnings record with hardly a “Big Five” sire in sight, tell us that besides luck, there must’ve been other factors at work. We can only marvel at the efforts of our people, the generosity of the land, and the contribution of the “boys” in the stallion barn.
"It’s never easy to admit to the ravages of age, so I’ll confine myself to a confession that horses have been a part of my life since the day I was born, and that this is my 40th year in the commercial stud business." - Mick Goss / Summerhill CEO
The old adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, has never been truer. Breeding racehorses is as competitive now as it’s ever been, which means that to play a winning hand, you need to hold the aces. All of them.
At the time, Willow Magic’s father, Dubawi, was an unknown quantity, the son of a largely disappointing Dubai Millennium. Nobody had the slightest inkling then that by 2015, Dubawi would be the fastest stallion on either side of the Atlantic to register 50 Group winners. Ever.
More than once, Markus Jooste has acknowledged the role of Summerhill in floating his “breeding” boat, and while in Klawervlei, the former Champion Breeders had spawned a Gulliver in their own Lilliput, Act Of War’s occupation of his new stall in KwaZulu-Natal not only marks a vote of faith in the region’s breeding community, but he also represents the salivating prospect of accessing one of the best-performed sons of one of history’s best stallions.
On the eve of the departure of the South African delegation for Hong Kong where they will be negotiating the normalisation of South Africa’s export protocols, the prospect of trade with China raises its enticing head. It’s well documented that Mick Goss presented South Africa’s political and commercial case for this process at the Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai earlier this year, and the delegation now representing our cause is taking the scientific argument to the international race meeting in Hong Kong next week. We all know this could be a game-changer for the South African racing and breeding industry, so that its significance cannot be underestimated. The relevance of this development was highlighted by Paul Haigh in an article in the Daily Telegraph.
One can't exactly compare it to Paul Pogba's transfer to Manchester United for 105 million euros, but racing had its own big deal this year when Lammerskraal bought the stallion, Visionaire, from Summerhill Stud.
The gallops are behind us and phase 1 is complete. In the yard as we write is the doyen of Highveld trainers, Ormond Ferraris, hot-as-hell Gary and Dean Alexander and champion trainer Sean Tarry. If ever a measure of the quality of the horses was needed, I guess these three gents say it all.
Joburg residents are used to traffic jams, but we could get a horse jam in Midrand this week with 235 two-year-olds in town for the last big sale of the year - the Emperors Palace Ready-To-Run scheduled for Thursday and Friday evenings.
Ahead of his biggest sale of the year - the Emperors Palace Joburg Ready-To-Run which is scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week - champion breeder, Mick Goss, can be relied on to provide an enticing quote.
The racing fraternity is a community all of its own, yet within that world there is another called the “insiders”. These are the guys that live and work in a world “normal” people don’t know, whose day kicks off long before normal people rise, who speak a language of their own and have an affinity for racehorses which is often greater than their affection for their fellow man.