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Just over a year ago, Bloodstock South Africa announced the inauguration of the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sweepstakes which was to be restricted to graduates of the Ready To Run Sale. While a sweepstake implies exactly that (namely, that its prize money value would be dependant on its prescriptions, vendor’s entry fees, sponsorships, stakes contributions and owner’s subscriptions,) it was and hoped that the inaugural running would be for at least R500 000. Thankfully, while the final figures have yet to come in, it looks as though that target will be attained and the first staging of this event will take place on Saturday 3rd November, in conjunction with the Gauteng Charity Mile, with a stake of R500 000.

While there is still plenty of time for horses to qualify themselves for the event, which is to be staged over the 1400m of the inner track at Turffontein, there are obviously some notable omissions from the race in the form of horses whose owners did not subscribe them for the race at the time of their purchase, including at least one Stakes winner. This opens the door for horses still to establish their credentials, and the great excitement surrounding the event, is heightened by the fact that the 1400m distance of the event and its relatively late programming (in November) opens the door to both the sprinting types, and those later maturing sorts (or later foals) that want to run 1400 m and beyond.

The big news of this week however is that all of the vendors, the sponsors (Emperor’s Palace), and Phumelela have put their heads together, and come up with a concept which should see the race for this year’s Ready To Run Sale graduates contesting the 2008 version of this event for at least R1 million or more in 2008, thus making the race by some distance the richest Ready To Run Sales race anywhere in the world. Bearing in mind the weakness of the Rand against major currencies, this is a signal event in sales-related race sponsorship, and it also reflects the far sightedness of those behind the event’s development.

In stark contrast to the English and Irish versions of sales races (both Tattersalls and Goffs stage races with similar concepts, where almost 80% of the funding comes from owner’s pockets), the South African version foresees a subscription approaching R600 000 of the total stakes (and it could be quite a bit more depending on the number of entries,) coming from the pockets of breeders, who have more than exhibited their faith in the event and in the quality of the entries, by putting their money squarely where their mouths are.

For a sale which already has a rich history in the production of exceptional runners, this news must be a mouth-watering prospect for those owners who have recognized, as has been the case internationally over the past decade, that buying a horse when you have had the opportunity to see him run, is as close to hindsight as you can get.

Mick GossMick GossSpeaking from KZN Midlands base, Summerhill CEO Mick Goss commented that he was “more than gratified at the unanimous support the new idea had attracted from the Sales company, the sponsors and Phumelela, as a R1 million event in any terms, was something to be reckoned with, and would add considerable lustre to the programme scheduled for the Gauteng Charity Mile meeting”. He continued that “Summerhill’s own support of the sale in 2007 would extend to beyond 100 horses in view of the added stake, (a contribution exceeding R500 000), and would include some 9 Australian imports by some of the world’s best stallions as an added dimension to the sale”.

(Courtesy of Sporting Post)