Last week, we promised to reveal all. This meant we’d be leaking news on the “drip” day-by-day, of our groom’s individual choices. Tarryn Liebenberg, who heads up the yearling sales team, tells us it was an extremely difficult task, particularly as there is so little between the top horse in the draft and the rest. What you get from the Champion Breeders in 2008 is the pick of one of the best vintages we’ve known, and by the “pick” we mean everything that was advanced enough to go. There are obviously numerous backward or immature types of National Sales calibre which we’ve kept behind, but for the rest, these are the “ones”.
Ben Mbhele , who’s been with us more than 20 years and whose grandfather was here in 1939 when the Ellises acquired Hartford, has gone for Khetani (which means “Take Your pick or Choice”), a scopey athletic colt and a beautiful moving individual by current leading Freshman sire, Labeeb out of Choice, a Stakes winner from one of our top families. He is joined in that selection by Prince Mdunjane, whom readers will remember is an outstanding rider in our Ready To Ride team, as well Thabani Nzimande, a relative newcomer, but a natural talent in his own right.
Ben’s pick of the fillies, it seems, is a relatively obvious one, being the Al Mufti half-sister (Nontanda) to one of the favourites for the forthcoming SA Guineas, Lostintranslation. This one’s out of an own sister to J&B Metropolitan (Gr.1) winner, Angus, and to Dignify, winner of the Golden Slipper (Gr.1), and he’s joined in this particular selection by Lungisani Hadebe, Mali Zuma, Mandla Vidima, Robert Mbhele, Spamandla Mthethwa and Thabani Nzimande (again). Amazingly, for a draft with so many outstanding fillies, almost half our grooms have gone for Nontanda, but they’re probably more pedigree “snobs” than anything else, because she’s Lot 22, and is an entry in the “green pages”. While she’s obviously an outstanding individual, there are several others in the draft that match her.