We’re in the final stages of the approach to the Ready to Run gallops, which are due to be staged at Summerhill on the 19th October, and at Turffontein racecourse on the 22nd October. Preparations for the venue at which the bulk of entries will be strutting their stuff, Summerhill Stud, are well advanced, and already the infrastructure for the “grandstanding” facilities (under cover of a huge nomadic tent) are in place. Technicians, caterers, wine merchants, marketing gurus, television companies and an extraordinary variety of other suppliers (its amazing what it takes to organize a good party these days) are constantly in and out of the property which makes up the midlands nursery.

Part of the marketing process involved in getting the sale candidates known to the world involves the filming of the gallops, the mounting of these gallops on Bloodstock SA’s and Summerhill’s websites, the burning of DVD’s for distribution around the world, and the preparation of a canned programme for Tellytrack distribution. Such is the impression these preparations have left on the minds of sales companies around the world, that regular visitors to the Summerhill web site right now, include the world’s largest sales company, the Keeneland Association (USA), Australia’s largest sales organizations, Inglis & Son and the Magic Millions, as well as a new entrant this year, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing. Eamonn Cullen, Marketing Manager for what is now firmly established as one of the most successful international marketing entities in the world, will be representing the Irish at the gallops, so he can witness first hand what it takes to make a success of a Ready To Run sale.

Hartford HouseHartford HousePeter Gibson of Racing South Africa reports growing international interest, particularly from Hong Kong, for this year, and there is already news of several visitors from around the globe that will be attending the sale itself, while others will be here for the gallops themselves. There are at least half a dozen booked and confirmed from the UK who will be staying over at Hartford House the night before the gallops as part of an atmosphere soaking exercise, and if history repeats itself, “soaking” might be the right word!. They will be appropriately entertained by the presence of several of South Africa’s top racing personalities, including those making up the panel which will be making their selections known on Tellytrack afterwards, Graeme Hawkins, Mike de Kock, Sean Tarry, Michael Azzie, Dean Kannemeyer and Michael Roberts, among others.

In between times, Summerhill is expecting visits from the likes of Basil Marcus, Gavin van Zyl and Michael Roberts, who make the annual pilgrimage to Summerhill to come and “sit” on the lots of their choice in advance of the gallops, so they can get a first hand “feel” of what the horses are like. These fellows complete their assessments of the horses after the gallops, by watching the DVD’s time and again as they narrow down their selections.

As Mike de Kock remarked in his article on the subject in last week’s Citizen, there is a substantial advantage in favour of buyers that are able to pick their horses on what they see at the track, and that probably explains, as much as anything else, why racing’s customers are moving increasingly in this direction. Summerhill has obviously seen (and been a part of the development) of the trend worldwide, and this sale in which they unashamedly claim to have their best draft in many years, reflects the extent to which they believe it is the “future”.

Extract from Charl Pretorius