You’d think in the wake of a sale of over a 100 lots and all of its attendant comings-and-goings (not to mention the politics!) there’d be a bit of respite for Team Summerhill. Not a word of it: the next lot for the Emperors Palace Summer Ready To Run Sale are already in and grabbing the attentions of Michael Booysen, Thabani Nzimande, Tarryn Liebenberg and co; Ilze Schmidt and her gang have taken the youngsters for the April series of sales into safe-keeping; and while the foaling season is drawing to a close, there are already well over 200 on the ground, with another 30-40 to come. It’s hot in this kitchen, believe me, and plans for next year are already well under way, including the search not only for Await The Dawn’s replacement, but for the horse that would’ve been on the agenda anyway, as part of what you have to do in this game to keep yourself fresh and “jhuzzed” up in the fashion stakes.
The social programme too, is cluttered, with Royal visits, an overnighter for newly appointed Ambassador to Australia, Sbu Ndebele (he of “Dundee July” fame,) and the gang is prepping themselves for a tilt at the spoils of former Premier and present ANC Secretary General, Zweli Mkhize’s big country race meeting in the second half of December. Meantime, we’re on our way to the one party in the year you can’t miss, whether you can handle the pace or not at Mike de Kock’s annual bash in Jo’burg. He’s the man everyone wants to know. He’s become the idol of a social set to which he never belonged, and to which, you suspect, he never wanted to belong. De Kock knows the rich and famous, he has himself become rich and famous. Yet fame has not changed him, not outwardly anyway. He doesn’t conform. He can’t; he isn’t like anyone else.
From there the marketing campaign for the Summer Sale gathers momentum with one of those things you just have to do in life, whether you like it or not, and that’s subject yourself to ten days in Mauritius for their annual racing awards and the jockeys’ international in the midst of a national plebiscite. It’s tough here in Africa, as you know, and there’s the rushed return to the Cape where Investec’s Bernard Kantor entertains the troops at his answer to De Kock’s party. In a former era, these things were taken in the stride and while the gym and the long jogs on the farm are still part of the routine, watching the sun rise at the end of a long night out is not at the top of the priorities these days.
When we first announced the Summer Ready To Run in our School Of Equine Management, there were those who dubbed it the “leftovers”, the “invalids” and the “unsaleables”. So when No Worries galloped to stardom for “Buffalo Bill” Burnard in the Daily News, the “July” and the Jo’burg Spring Challenge, when Corredor closed so gallantly on Vercingetorix and Cape Town Noir in the Guineas, when Sithela and Rooi Nooi trotted up in the colts’ and fillies’ versions of the Sophomore Sprint, and when Tomorrow’s Miss obliterated her foes in the Emerald Casino Fillies Stakes, the whole world knew we meant business. This roll call would not be whole if we didn’t remember the exploits of the seven-time winner Vulcan, the top division performer FlyFirstClass and I Got You Babe (who won a race for every thousand Rands she cost, seven-for-seven), among the sale’s other graduates. The reality is, it’s the final sale of the two year old season, the costs to February have been taken care of and if you’re looking for a decent horse, there’s nowhere else to go. This is the “last chance saloon”, where everything gets sold, come-what-may.
And talking of sales, just yesterday, we got the news that the half-brother to the Lonhro colt we have among our entries for the April sales, made Aus$435,000 (that’s close on R4.5million at the current rate of exchange) at this week’s Australian breeze-ups. Someone here is going to get lucky when they get their hands on this fellow, as he comes in the “old currency”, and with a pedigree like his and a captivating physique, he might even be a stallion in the making.