The Ready to Race Diary comes live to you from Johannesburg from this evening.

83 horses arrived on Sunday along with 28 staff - additional Summerhill faces braving weather conditions that closed the airport between Johannesburg and Durban this afternoon to ensure they increased the body count by the close of business today. Some of us have managed to grab a room at Emperor’s Palace (thanks Bob!), the rest are overseeing horses at the stable block and are enjoying converted stables/bedrooms. Tim’s got exams next week (Law and Business Management) so is, to his credit, studying around his day commitments; everyone else is figuring out how to pour a G&T and work the microwave (Mick cant work it … and given the chaos he has caused in the kitchen in the past 15 minutes the general consensus is he never will). I have to say one thing - frozen meals have improved since I was at Varsity 10+ years ago!

The question on everyone’s lips this evening is: will the 2 speckled Plover eggs survive the next 5 days of Two year olds hooves and unexpected spooking as the horses walk the track morning and night? Bets are (alas) against the eggs (perhaps a realistic assessment of the unpredictable nature of two year old thoroughbreds). The mother bird has different ideas. She has assumed a front line position at the corner of the walking track and bravely takes on every horse that approaches.

We’ll keep you updated.

It’s been yet another week for the Ready to Run graduates - Ithala, Bistro Belle and Lady Red have all won this week. Meanwhile, the next generation have spent the week in sales prep: Monday involved a shampoo (a somewhat tricky concept given it was pouring with rain…), tails were trimmed, manes were unplaited, and door boards were put in place.

24 hours later everyone had settled in and the ‘design eye’ of the operation had arrived - Cheryl. Forty trees weren’t far behind her and the Summerhill Hospitality Suite fast displayed vases containing a mix of indigenous (dare I say with an Australian flavour!) banksias and King Proteas, with a mix of apricot roses.

At 10 to 6 this evening everyone found shelter in the Suite as temperatures dropped and the drizzle increased. Thank goodness we packed our Stud jackets. The cricket was on the TV. New Zealand was 7-145 in the ICC Champions Cup. Best not to ask who they were playing. The Ridge Furlong colt appeared somewhat intrigued by being across  the row from so many people. His groom admonished him for being an attention seeker and closed his top door. The colt kicked his door in protest.

And to think that some people think horses don’t have unique personalities.

“Michael, tell me how your horses are,” I asked as he wandered in and everyone started hunting for the remote control so we could view the gallops.

“Number 1” was the response.

Speaking of Number 1, a dozen managers including 9 staff who work with the horses on a daily basis spent 2 hours assessing each lot and grading them into ‘Value, Investment, and Blue Chip’ categories at this evening’s meeting. Some heated debate, general consensus, the occasional outbreak of raucous laughter, combined with the usual dash of democracy prevailed. The catalogue is well penned but ordered.  A special thanks to Megan back at the stud who tabbed the books - life suddenly got a while lot easier!

Orders are in from Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia and all the Platinum Client accommodation at Emperor’s Palace is booked out so the vets were in tonight to do bloods on all the colts and the top 5 fillies. (They got stuck in traffic for 3 hours with a chemical spill on the highway but were in remarkably fine spirits when they arrived … perhaps the free flow of spirits and dinner after they had finished their work ?!)

The Panel’s views will appear in full on Thursday evening on Tellytrack. 2 days later it’s the Gr 2 Charity Mile. Great field including National Spirit and a couple of this sales’ graduates including Talahatchie and Bold Ellinore.

If Emperor Napoleon does well then I suspect there will be a few people chasing the Stallions Noms Manager.

Linda may well be relieved that she will be in JBG with us.

Kahal already has 5 stakes performers in as many weeks. His book is also full. One could be forgiven for starting to wonder what KZN is potentially sitting on in terms of the quality of this horse.

“Celebrity spotting” at the Summerhill A-Block today included:

Ormond Ferraris (doyen of South African trainers and a tribute to the Draft by his mere presence)
Glanvil Gardener (0wner of Coastal Waltz - Ready to Run graduate and Horse of the Year in the Eastern Cape)
Dominic Zaki (trainer, among others, of National Spirit and Ready to Run Gr 1 winner Talahatchie)
Peter Cowley (shrewd investor and owner of highly regarded Ready to Run graduate Gene Genie - half brother to this year’s standout National Emblem Colt x Western Flash)
Erico Verdonese (twice - who apparently commands a good stash of cash for the sale)
Allan Roux (trainer of this year’s kahal standout filly Evening Attire)
Colin and Tom Scott (old time regular customers - welcome home fellas!)
A spy for Racing Association Chairman Bruce Gardner (to check on Bruce’s horses - which incidentally are the subject of great interest … and who we saw coming a mile away!!)

Mick summarised today’s numbers as “steadily busy and encouraging for this stage of the week.”

8.35pm. Everyone seems to now be watching the football (soccer). I’m wondering how to circumnavigate the Jhb traffic in the dark … I assume we’ll figure it out.