igugu racehorse
igugu racehorse

Igugu (Aus)

(Photo : JC Photographics)


The Emperors Palace Ready To Run sale has chalked up some memorable achievements over the years. The roll of honour is often replicated in finalists for the national Equus Awards, and this year alone we’ve witnessed an international victor ludorum in Imbongi; history’s winningmost racehorse, Hear The Drums;racing’s biggest earner for 2010 Pierre Jourdan; his runner-up in the Gauteng Colts Guineas, and runner-up again in the KZN Guineas, Havasha; and Fillies Guineas heroine, Fisani. That fans of the game have a riveted interest in the sale is not surprising, and in more recent years it’s been Summerhill’s practice, in their attempt to introduce some variety into the sale, to have on hand a raft of Australians among the candidates.

Last year was notable for the fact that the top price at the sale was a Galileo filly from a beautifully related Danehill mare, which fell to the bid of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah Al Maktoum of Dubai. Perhaps not so strangely, the second top filly was a R1million purchase by Andre Macdonald, not only one of the game’s longest-serving supporters, but a man whose presence in the ring that day was evidence of racing at its democratic best. Andre will be the first to tell you that, like us, he came from humble beginnings, yet when the filly was knocked down to Sheikh Mohammed at R2,1 million, standing on his own on the opposite side of the sales ring, was Andre Macdonald, who’d raised his catalogue at R2 million. Not to be outdone, when the next Galileo came into the ring, he made sure he prevailed, even though it was half the money.

Three other Australian graduates were snapped up by Markus Jooste, a man whose impact on sales in South Africa is akin to, if not exceeding the combined value of the Maktoums and Coolmore influence in the international markets. All three of his horses have been to the races, and all three have won impressively first time out : no doubt they’ll all be there when the field takes its place in the stalls for the R1,5 million renewal of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup on 6th November. His Affidavit trotted up by six lengths on debut, Hollywoodboulevard did the same by 8,5 on debut, and Ridethebreeze was a facile winner of his first start during the KZN Winter season for Joey Ramsden.

At the Vaal last Thurdsday, Mike de Kock let the “other” of the two Galileo fillies go over 1200m. Beautifully related from the immediate family of Europe’s Horse Of The Year two seasons ago, Zarkava,Igugu trotted up by 2,5 lengths, making her the fourth (from four) Australian graduate from last year’s sale to win at the first time of asking. This one looks like she has plenty to offer, and with her pedigree, we can only imagine what value breeders will attach to her when she finally gets to the paddocks.

Andre Macdonald has been around for a long time, and as we wrote in our tribute to Nic Claasen earlier in the week, he was a patron of Summerhill twenty years ago, when he acquired the SA Derby (Gr.1) second, Mount McKinley for R5,000. A million Rand is a long way from those days, but it’s a sign not only of Andre’s prosperity in his mature years, it’s also a tribute to the prize money on offer for the Ready To Run Cup.

The tradition of offering well related internationally connected horses at the Ready To Run has been maintained again this year. Summerhill’s draft includes a son of Europe’s most exciting young stallion of the new era, Dansili; another by the eleven time Champion Sire of South America, Hussonet; a big chestnut colt by the prolific stakes producing winner, Royal Academy; his 150 plus Stakes winners around the world include two of the best horses of their generation in South Africa Eyeofthetiger and Expressway; and a daughter of the outstanding Danehill sire, Rock Of Gibraltar.