Please click above to watch the departure of our yearlings for
The Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale
(Photography : Leigh Willson)
SEEING IS BELIEVING : HOW DO WE KNOW
The cosmos are out, and the route to Jo’burg is lined in autumnal beauty. Readers of these columns will know, this is the time when old man Mbanjwa, at 96, would still remind us it was the season for the departure of our yearlings for the National Sales.
Yesterday was that day, and early in the morning the string was lined up, predominantly colts for a change, at our loading ramps alongside the Summerhill trading store. These are sentimental days; in a way, days of sadness, but at the same time, days of anticipation. Many a champion has stepped onto a float at our loading ramps, bringing fame and fortune to the farm, when at last he gets the chance to express himself at what he was bred for: the racecourse.
Time was, when yearlings were really wild and pretty woolly, and headmasters were compliant, that the local school kids would join us at the loading ramps for the ceremony. The young racehorses in those days were a tough lot, “lassoed” for just a couple of month’s preparation, and they’d never known the feeling of a moving vehicle under them. Pacifying was what they needed, and serenading was the solution.
It took hours to load a string of just a dozen, and even longer at three or four kilometres an hour, to get them underway. The school choir, accompanied by the more athletic mothers on the staff, would dance them off the farm property, down through the valley and up the steep incline on the other side to the T-junction with the Giant’s Castle road. At the turn they’d pay their homages for the last time, and then the youngsters would be on their way to the City of Gold, where we’d always hope, and it wasn’t always a fruitful one, that there’d be enough customers to take them home.
How things have changed. The glory of the farm and its reputation as the premier producer of the nation’s finest thoroughbreds, means that most customers can ill afford to ignore them, even in these times of austerity.