Lot 3Lot 3 Sun Classique’s half sister by Doowaley (Sadler’s Wells)Sunday’s Vintage Yearling Sale gave the first clear indication that South Africa’s yearling market had stood firm against the financial worries that have marked the start of 2008. Stock market jitters, rising interest rates, sharp increases in the oil price and a falling Rand are serious reasons to expect that buyers might be more circumspect when spending on luxury items than in recent years. However, any concerns were soon dispelled when the first four lots took the turnover through R1 million mark.

One of the many UK-based supporters of the South Africa’s racing industry, Martin Wickens, struck first when paying R170,000 for a bay colt by former Champion Three-Year-Old Colt, Model Man. Consigned by Dr Frank Freeman’s Boland Stud, the youngster will join leading Cape trainer, Joey Ramsden.

Thanks to a surge of breeder investment in foreign markets in recent years, South Africa’s catalogues are now littered with international pedigrees. Lot 3 brought Sun Classique’s sister by Doowaley (Sadler’s Wells) into the ring and the bright chesnut was eventually knocked down for R700,000. Consigned by Lionel Cohen’s Odessa Stud, the filly was signed by Charles McKenzie, a patron of Sun Classique’s former trainer, Mike Bass.

Fieldspring Racing has invested heavily in the South African racing industry, reaping some glorious rewards on the way. Two Vodacom Durban July’s takes some beating, but their entry into the stallion business adds a new dimension to their ambitions. Peter Doyle, bidding on behalf of Karen and John Newsome, had kept an eye on the progeny of Sadler’s Wells horse, Nysaean, whom he had bought on their behalf in Deauville in 2000, and he went to R300,000 for a smashing colt consigned by Arc-En-Ciel in Lot 249. The colt will join their July winning trainer, Dean Kannemeyer.

Trainer Eric Sands has a smart two-year-old on his hands and yesterday’s victory by South Country at Durbanville Racecourse was good timing, as his Scottish based owner, John Robertson, was on hand to see him record his second win from three starts. Robertson showed his confidence in his Cape Town conditioner by forking out R600,000 for a classically bred son of Fort Wood. Consigned by Geoff and Katherine Winshaw’s Litchfield Stud in Robertson, the colt has Godolphin’s Beverley D’s heroine, Crimson Palace, in his family.

It must have been almost impossible for last season’s leading owner, Chris van Niekerk, to have let Lot 102 go unbought. For the athletic Captain Al filly is a half-sister to his star three-year-old sprinter, Mythical Flight, and the affable van Niekerk eventually won the battle at R1.4 million. Trainer Sean Tarry believes the filly to have more scope than Mythical Flight and, whereas the son of Jet Master is a muscular, pure sprinting type, Mana Mou, as she has been called, might go beyond the sprinting trips.

Lot 198 touched the hearts of many of the breeding community, as the imported two-year-old old son of Dansili was the final purchase by the TBA’s former Chairman, Basil Bartlett, before his untimely death in December 2005. Basil had bought the colt’s dam, Zanakiya, carrying to Dansili at the December Sales in 2005. Now consigned by his wife, Nikki, under their stud name, Danika Stud, the striking, almost black colt caught the eye of a number of well respected judges, including Peter Doyle bidding on behalf of a syndicate for KwaZulu Natal based trainer, Michael Roberts. However, when the Doyle team stopped at R850,000, it was left to the single bid of the well known local syndicate of Mike Fullard, James Drew and Butch Watson-Smith to repel John Robertson’s late charge. At R950,000, the colt was still less than the cost of a service to Dansili, whose current fee of £75,000 converts to R1.2 million, such being the value of the South African market!

The top price emerged late in the sale. Victory Moon was one of Mike de Kock’s first big successes in Dubai and his half-sister by Fort Wood (Lot 243) was always likely to make big money. Joey Ramsden signed for the chestnut filly at R1.6 million and a Classic campaign beckons. She is another from the Litchfield Stud and hails from a fantastic family, assuring her future prospects as a broodmare.

First season sires were in demand and, apart from Victory Moon, the likes of Var, Nysaean, Tamburlaine, Dynasty and Toreador all fetched good prices. This group were all Gr.1 performers and their progeny attracted buyers from the top yards in the country.

The average was up 11.3% on last year’s sale to R138,000 and the aggregate rose by R8 million to just under R29 million, largely attributable to the 38 more horses that changed hands yesterday. Lionel Cohen, managing director of Equimark, was thrilled with the result saying that, “ The Vintage Yearling Sale has grown as a result of the loyal patronage of both vendor and buyer, something we are most appreciative of .”

Extract from European Bloodstock News