Hot and clear. But not humid. Some trade off at least. The flow of foot traffic was continuous, the number of horses being viewed large, and behind the scenes the website also revealed some interesting statistics with the USA beating South African viewers by a resounding margin having downloaded more than 380 Gallops from the website, with India, Singapore, Great Britain, and Europe not far behind.
It may well be the horse staff on duty at the sales yard, but there was still the usual competitive verbal jousting when the Agric. manager arrived just after 8.30am. Just like any Summerhill morning manager’s meeting, it fast became the usual inter-departmental competition: Barry has 8 cows left to calve (total 94) versus the broodmare team’s 39 foals still to arrive (164 already on the ground). As we keep telling Barry - he has about half the amount of cows to foals and all he does is put them in the paddock!
Barry’s response: “I deal with efficiencies, not numbers!
Tarryn reassures us that he’ll get over it soon; meanwhile the assistant broodmare manager, Claire, says there’s no competition - he’s losing by a huge number! As an aside, an anonymous source did comment that calves do look cuter than the foals … a moot [some might say dangerous!] point in this arena I suspect.
Shadows lengthened by 3pm and outside the Hospitality Suite people lounged at tables, walked aisles, stood in breeze ways, leaned against stable walls, and perused first their catalogue page and hand written notes following the Gallops, and then the horse that was paraded for them. Eyes assessed action, fingers traced knees and fetlocks, and the occasional hand absently patted a neck or straightened a wind-blown forelock as pens scribbled updates.
Inside, crowds ebbed and flowed (as did the number of copies of The Sporting Post on the table) depending on what race was on and who was following what horse (or was seeking to collect a bet!)
Resident meteorologist (Tarryn) has provided the following forecast for Sale Day “Rain Saturday night, fine tomorrow.” Peter Gibson has an opposing opinion (another self-confessed weather junkie “as it has an effect on the going”). He predicts “party cloudy and warm, with a slight possibility of a thunderstorm late in the evening - typical Spring weather on the high veldt”. Mick says he has always had respect for Peter’s opinion on the weather so will side with him … minus the thunderstorm.
Speaking of Mick, at the close of Saturday he reports: “I am delighted with the traffic; very encouraging. We have had a lot of comments about the high standard of this year’s draft.”
There is some bad news alas. The Plover eggs didn’t make it. Not a victim of horse hooves though - rather an over keen lawn mower.
Saturday’s celebrity spottings
· Mike de Kock (Champion trainer and racing icon)
· Mike McLachlan (Kimberley trainer)
· Henry and Pat Devine (breeders and owners of Gr 2 Celebrity Mile winner SOFT LANDING)
· Trevor Lange (veteran jockey and trainer)
· Dr Craig Kitching (owner of THE DECAGONG who is nominated for the KZN Outstanding Stayer of the Year Award)
· Gavin Smith (PE trainer)
· George Scott (Jhb trainer)
· Paddy Kruyer (Jhb trainer)
· Norman Sanan (experienced owner; one of the characters of the game)
· Paul Marks (golf Pro)
· Stuart Pettigrew (Jhb trainer)
· Nic Claassen (PE trainer)
· Selvan Naidoo (Durban trainer)
· Michael Roberts (former champion jockey; KZN trainer)
· Mike Miller (Durban trainer; won Saturday’s Early Bird Award after arriving at 7.50am!)
· Chips Pennells (big Natal owner)
· Laurie Jaffee (Industry Statesman)
· Peter Gibson (CEO, Racing South Africa)
· Andrew Yeung (Hong Kong owner)
· Sally Oaks and Veronica Jackson-Smith (Western Australian Thoroughbred Breeders Association)
· Chesty Wolfaardt (owner; one of the mainstays of the Mike de Kock yard. Owns horses in South Africa and Dubai)
· Gavin McCloud (Zimbabwe trainer)
· Tony Rivalland (Durban trainer)
· Cecil Bates (Umbrella Industries in Durban and one-time owner of Daily News Gr 1 winner UNCLE PERCY)
· Barry Watson (breeder; KZN celebrity)
· Local celebrities LJ Erasmus and Chris Erasmus
· Pierre Du Toit (breeder)
· Corne Spies (Trained FUN FLY and champion 2YO filly ROCK OPERA. Along with his father, was associated with the first 2 winners of the Bloodline Million. Ideally placed to pick an entrant for next years inaugural Emperor’s Palace race)