Click above to view a few photos of our National Sales Yearlings at rest and play…
(Photos : Leigh Willson)
EMPERORS PALACE NATIONAL YEARLING SALE
15 - 17 April 2011
Time was, when our yearlings left for the National Sales, that the entire complement of pupils from our farm school, would gather at the loading ramps alongside the Trading Store, to serenade the youngsters off to racing glory. It was a moving throng partly aimed at willing our racehorses to greatness, but just as much to settle their nerves before their maiden journey on a vehicle. In those days yearlings were wild and woolly, unaccustomed to the ways of man, and very little habituated to the stress of a motorized journey. So the school kids, their mothers and some of the elders, would dance them away as the float crawled off the premises, snaking its way down past the Madondo paddocks, and up the quarantine incline to the junction with the Giant’s Castle road, Johannesburg-bound.
These days, the horses are temperamentally different, the lessons of the past having taught us to work with them from the day they were born, instilling in them a sense of trust in their handlers, and a more comfortable acceptance of their environment. Loading is more of a formality nowadays, and there’s very little incident between here and the sales yards in Germiston. Though traditions die hard around here, it seems that education in the modern world takes precedence over important things like racing greatness, and it’s difficult, nay impossible, to persuade a headmaster in the new scheme of things, to allow his pupils a morning off to attend such a ritual. What’s become of the “university of life”, or the ways of this little farm school which has produced a mayor of our district, two junior international athletes and the second best traditional dance troupe in the world, in recent years.
But that doesn’t diminish the poignancy attached to the departure of the prides and joys of the farm. Some of them will be bought by people who have long-standing relationships with us, others by customers who believe it best for young horses to return to the place of their upbringings. Some will come back after the sales for their early racecourse education, but the bulk of them will go elsewhere, and very few will ever return. So whilst there’s great expectation about their futures, there’s also a feeling of sombre loss, and the knowledge that the next time we see these fellows, it will probably be on TV.
Looking at this lot, (and we know you’ll say we’re biased because they’re our children), they’re up there with the very best to leave this historic old place. We’ll say no more; come and see us at Block A, and you be the judge.