EMPERORS PALACE NATIONAL YEARLING SALE
TBA Sales Complex, Gosforth Park, South Africa
27 - 28 April 2014
Summerhill CEOWe all know the mantra: good “manners maketh a man”, and in the context of the world we live in, it’s equally true that good “men” maketh a stud farm. By “men” we mean stallions of course, and the search for that elusive beast with speed, substance and superior genes, is never-ending.
There is an exuberance to stallions which I can’t explain. I know the five senses well, but there is nothing to match the thrill of knowing you’ve got your hands on a gem. When Senor Santa, Another Minstrel, Northern Princess, Rip Curl, Mystery Guest and Gentleman Jones announced the “arrival” of Northern Guest, it was like the angels had come down from the heavens. Hot Guard, Taban and First City heralded the “second coming” of Home Guard, then National Emblem and Fard topped the Juvenile Sires’ table with their first crops. Kahal and Muhtafal were slower to get out of the starting blocks, but both were commendable sires with distinguished careers.
You can get up in the mornings for men like these, as we’ve done religiously for the past 35 years, and this week gave us a new reason to do so. If you haven’t already been there, “clock” the piece “Salute The Brave”, penned on Thursday following the victories of Split The Breeze and Flying Cross, and you’ll understand. It wasn’t the fact that they were winning for the first time, it was the style of their victories that mattered, reminding us of the first progeny of the Northern Guests, the Home Guards and the National Emblems. When they win like this, they generally have more to come; that’s the hallmark of the good racehorse.
So when Iwo Jima blasted home at Turffontein on Saturday, it was like the moment the stranger steps through the saloon doors and the plinky-plunk piano dies. The sheriff looms in the rush. Now it’s flying fists, smashed whisky bottles, and the newcomer smashes through the plate glass window. This movie obviously hasn’t reached its final reel.
As they hit the “400”, the youngster delivered a withering sprint and with fully a furlong to run, the chequered flag was out, his place booked for the Premiers’ Champion Juvenile (Gr.1) on “July” Day. The grapevine tells us Split The Breeze and Flying Cross are headed in the same direction, for the Golden Medallion (Gr.1) and the Golden Slipper (Gr.1) respectively. In common of course, they have Brave Tin Soldier as their sire. Now you know why there’s a new spring in our early morning steps.
We need a new impetus in our sire ranks in KwaZulu-Natal though; the proven brigade are an aging lot, and one swallow isn’t going to bring back the summer. That’s why we’re so elated with the early returns of another young star on the Summerhill firmament, Visionaire, whose first local crop debuts at the Emperors Palace National Yearling sale this weekend. Our American readers will obviously remember him as one of the better performed members of his Classic generation, and for the expectations they held after his coming-from-the-clouds victory in the race that launched the three-year-old careers of Secretariat, Gone West, Seeking The Gold, Gulch and Easy Goer, the Gotham Stakes.
But the race that finally defined his class was what has become America’s greatest “stallion-maker”, the King’s Bishop (Gr.1) at historic Saratoga, where he delivered one of the greatest stretch runs in the great race’s history. Have a “deck” at the video above, and you’ll see what we mean: you’ll never forget it.
Visionaire left just a handful of foals in the States before his hurried embarkation on the flight to South Africa. Already eight of them have won, five have chalked up multiple victories, one is a Stakes-winner, and another has earned his Black-type brackets. Now you know why we’re beginning to get that old familiar feeling again.
Barry Irwin is nothing if he is not one of the shrewdest judges in world racing. He’s bred them, he’s raced them, and importantly, he has written about them. As the pioneering pace-setter in the “internationalization” of the South African racehorse, he knows our racing and he knows what’s good for it. When he talks, we tend to listen. “I’ve always wanted to breed my South African mares to this type of horse. Visionaire ticks all my boxes”. Looking at the draft sent to Jo’burg last Thursday, we’d say he’s got it right again.
And it helps that it’s the sire line that’s given the world the current American champion stallion, Speightstown, Elusive Quality, Zafonic, Mr Greeley and Zamindar, and to South Africa, Western Winter and the astonishingly promising Sail From Seattle, the new signature sire at Ashley and Bev Parker’s Ascot Stud.
Enough of this propaganda: you be the judge!
(Go to www.tba.co.za and click on Emperors Palace National Yearling sale to see the Brave Tin Soldier’s (Lots 13, 24, 317, 347, 402, 520) and the Visionaire’s (Lots 12, 17, 71, 79, 86, 89, 96, 108, 129, 209, 230, 243, 259, 306, 325, 345, 350, 366, 434, 499).