The one thing that stands out at any racehorse sale, is the diversity of its offerings, yet most attendees at last month’s Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sale would’ve had one thing in common when it came to talk about the new kids on the block. It’s possible of course, that it was more noticeable for those of us in Block “A”, as it concerned a couple of the barnmates in the Summerhill stallion complex, but there was hardly a conversation about the nation’s young stallions without mention of Visionaire and Brave Tin Soldier.
In the event, Visionaire had a block-buster of a sale, conquering the usual reticence among our trainer and owner friends in the Western Cape against what they would ordinarily consider the “foreign elements”, in the stallion ranks outside of their neighbourhood: Visionaire’s stock were hard to resist on the strength of their jaunty swagger and spectacular physiques, and the belief this engendered in the hearts of onlookers was reinforced by the performance of his first juveniles in the United States. From a diminutive first crop of just on twenty foals, he had already yielded eight winners, four of them doubling up, and a third with a hat-trick under his belt. It didn’t stop there: another had already earned his bold Black type, whilst another was runner-up in Stakes company on debut.
The salivating has maintained itself in the aftermath, partly because the R343,000 average posted by his debutant crop at the sale converted itself into something like seventeen times his opening stud fee, and just this weekend, yet another first-timer, Haunted Vision, trotted up in the United States as the 2-1 shot in a competitive line-up. Bumped at the break, she recovered well to take the early lead, remaining in control through the stretch and galloping clear to hit the wire 2 ¾ lengths in front. This was no ordinary “opener”: it was a Maiden Special Weights with close to R600,000 on offer, and it’s clear trainer Allan Iwinski has a smart prospect on his hands. There’s no miracle in knowing that our Stallion Bookings manager, Linda Norval’s line is in hot form as we write.
The other fellow that’s obviously in orbit right now is Brave Tin Soldier, whose last four runners have all “arrived”. It’s not that they’re winning though, it’s the way they’re winning, galloping away with contemptuous ease. Rathmor-bred Split The Breeze got the show underway with a first-out murder of an odds-on shot at Clairwood for Luiz Cunha, the talk suggesting his next outing would be in the Golden Medallion (Gr.1) at Scottville’s Festival Of Speed. Tomorrow’s Sporting Post will tell us what he’s up against. The coals had scarcely cooled, when Flying Cross decimated a pretentious assembly of fillies at Clairwood with a surging close to the final furlong and a half, pricking trainer Robbie Hill’s aspirations of a Group One victory in his first season in his new profession.
The farm team were already in floating mode as the sales candidates alighted the transporter for Jo’burg, not knowing that the next day at Turffontein, Iwo Jima would scorch that track with an irresistible burst in the dying strides of a Juvenile contest, romping clear by 2 1/2. By now the talk was everywhere, yet it’s one of those idiosyncrasies of our sport that when you need them, you seldom have them. It so happened that most of us had believed, on the basis of their leggy, somewhat immature appearances, that the “Brave Tins” like the Kahals of a previous generation, would be better served by later sales like the Ready To Run, so most of us had minimal entries for the “Nationals”. That didn’t detract though, from the fact that there was hardly a true horseman at the sale who didn’t feel the compulsion to pull them out.
The fortnight since the sale has been noticeable for the fact that there wasn’t a Brave Tin in sight among the juvenile entries, but Friday evening fixed all that. Ivan Moore’sThe Real Hero lived up to his name in the Colts’ Juvenile, grabbing the initiative from the outside slot at the start, and turning the Greyville straight into a solo parade. The latter two apparently have the Golden Horseshoe (Gr.1) and the Premier’s Champion Juvenile (Gr.1) as their season-end targets.
If there’s a sense of déjà vu in all of this, it rests in the memories of those of us who’ve been around long enough at Summerhill, like chief stallion man, Greig Muir, of the thrills the first crops of Northern Guest, Home Guard, Rambo Dancer, Fard, National Emblem, Kahal and Muhtafal generated, and while it’s early days yet, we can’t help thinking this could be a case of “play it again, Sam”.
Linda Norval +27 (0) 33 263 1081
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