keeneland delegation[L-R Back row] Geoffrey Russell, David Switzer, Dr Stuart Brown, John Greely. Front row [L-R] Adrian Todd & Chauncey MorrisSouth Africa has been privileged to host a high powered delegation from Kentucky for the past 5 days. The 6 guests addressed breeding seminars in Johannesburg and Kwa Zulu Natal, attended a series of meetings with Industry representatives in 3 cities, and experienced first hand our race tracks and stud farms.

On Sunday night the lawns of Hartford House resounded with the beat of war drums as the zulu dancers welcomed the guests to Summerhill Stud, before a 5-course dinner was served on the verandah overlooking the cherry blossom trees and lawns. In addition to Mick and Cheryl Goss and the Summerhill managers, Caroline and Byron from the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and Dr Alan Bechard and his wife Robyn - breeders of the sensational miler NATIONAL SPIRIT (9 wins and 12 placings from 24 starts and last week’s winner of the richest race on the sand - The Emerald Cup) - were also guests on the night.

“This is by some distance the most high powered United States delegation to visit our shores,” said host Mick Goss. “It was all the more flattering to us as they came off 2 weeks of the biggest thoroughbred auction in the world to be here. Their visit reminds us all just how valuable contact with these people can be and about the opportunities that can flow from mutual cooperation. There is also a window of opportunity here for people to benefit by the information flow that can accrue from this visit.”

The delegation consisted of the following individuals:

Geoffrey G Russell, Director of Sales, Keeneland Association Inc. As reported in the September 6 edition of The Bloodhorse “Now in his tenth season at Keeneland - the last five as director of sales -  Russell has been called a maestro of the sales ring who conducts the proceedings with authority and finesse, tempered always by his awareness of the unique nature of his place in the scheme of things. Russell describes his role during a sale as part fireman, part policeman - who must meet the unique challenge of making sure that seller and buyer both leave the pavilion a satisfied customer - citing the old joke about knowing you have a problem when the buyer starts by saying “You sold me a horse…” instead of “I bought a horse…”

This year’s September sale set a world record for a thoroughbred auction record for gross revenue for the third year in a row with USD399,791,800 exchanging hands.  The average  also grew 3.7%, from USD108,420 to USD112,427. And the median advanced 12.5%, from USD40,000 to USD45,000.  As Geoffrey said “It was a spectacular sale from start to finish. Book one (in the set of the sale’s catalogues) set the tone, and it (the positive momentum) continued all the way through. We had a very deep middle market, which we had anticipated. It was proven yet again that Keeneland truly is a global marketplace.”

David L Switzer, Executive Director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Inc .  The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association  was established in 1983 with two primary goals. The first was to unite the industry by addressing long-term problems and representing the Thoroughbred industry on a national and international basis. The second was to maintain the highest standards of racing, breeding and training in the Commonwealth.  

Dr Stuart Brown, a partner and leading veterinarian at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute 

John J Greely IV, owner and syndicate manager at Wintergreen Stallion Station in Kentucky.

Adrian Todd, Program Coordinator from the ‘Communicating for Agriculture Exchange Program’.  For more than 20 years the Communicating for Agriculture Exchange Program has specialized in helping young adults gain training experience overseas. Training is offered in many categories including agriculture, horticulture, enology, equine, turf management, apiary and citrus, giving young people the opportunity to learn in many different cultural and training settings. Earlier this year the Keeneland Association, in conjunction with the Communicating for Agriculture International Exchange Program (C.A.E.P.), launched a Keeneland Scholars Program to provide internships abroad for young professionals in the Thoroughbred industry. The program funds visa and travel expenses, allowing scholars to spend up to 12 months living and working in the Thoroughbred industry abroad. Each student receives practical training in a variety of areas, including farm management, general horsemanship, veterinary techniques, racehorse management and training, sales preparation and organization, bloodstock transactions and marketing.

Chauncey Morris, Keeneland sales marketing associate.