That is the question. Just yesterday, one of our pre-Training managers and certainly the most experienced of our jockeys, John Motaung, proclaimed this the best Ready To Run string he’s known. He should know; over the years he’s ridden in the States, the UK and here, he’s seen plenty of champions, July, Met and Summer Cup winners, and any number of millionaires pass through the Summerhill “breeze- up” programme, and he sat on the likes of Igugu, Pierre Jourdan, Smanjemanje, Imbongi, Rabada and Africa Rising.

Igugu - Vodacom Durban July (Gr1)

Igugu - J&B Met (Gr1)

While “home” tests of the candidates are supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff, yesterday’s work-outs have only served to confuse us. John is right, buyers are spoilt for choice with a draft this deep, and as was the case in the past, there’s no knowing where the best of them will come from.

This of course, opens the door to the smaller investor, whose eyes and intuitions are often better than a big chequebook. Hindsight they say, is “20-20”, and the opportunity to see a horse “at the run” is an advantage you don’t get at a conventional sale. The chips are down, it’s no longer about the father or the mother, it’s about who runs the fastest and endures the longest, it’s about courage and heart and the whole darn thing. Those who understand this have made countless “killings” at the Ready To Run, plucking the best of the runners from under the noses of those who’ve been glued to the pedigree pages, rather than the individual. You just have to pay attention.

Imbongi - Zabeel Mile (Gr2)

Hear The Drums - Winningmost racehorse in South Africa

In austere times like these, the refuge of most of us is to the tried-and-tested; our sense of adventure and our appetite for the “new” deserts us, and we gravitate towards what we think is the “safe” bet. Meanwhile, a look back at history reveals that some of our best moments have come from horses sired by the “used” or new stallions on the farm, whose progeny have been overlooked for what’s in fashion.

Pierre Jourdan - SA Classic (Gr1)

Phunyuka - Emerald Cup (Gr2)

That’s how Ronnie Napier found the exceptional international galloper, Imbongi, when his father Russian Revival had passed his “sell- by” date; Gold Press was already a “has been” stallion when Peter Fabricius sneaked up on history’s winningmost racehorse, Hear The Drums; if it hadn’t been for a late night “one-for-the-road”, Gary Alexander might never have been persuaded about Parade Leader’s “people’s horse”, Pierre Jourdan; Chris Erasmus found his first millionaire and his only Group One performer in Catmandu when his dad, Makaarem, was “done-and-dusted”; that sage old veteran Roy Magner was with the late Wally Brits ringside when they nabbed the all-weather champion, Phunyuka (by “dead-in-the-water” Slew The Red); and Alec Foster picked up a nugget with his Gold Cup ace, Cereus, when his sire Desert Team was on the plane bound for Kenya. All they did was pay attention.

Which is what all discerning horsemen will be doing on Monday 21st November when the gallops are instantly uploaded to Tellytrack.com, as well as to our own website (http://www.summerhill.co.za/ready-to-run-sale-2016/). Punters who seize that opportunity, will be in the front of the queue. In our experience, there’s nothing quite like it.

Editor’s note: Those closest to the draft, jockeys and managers, will be posting their personal preferences on this site over the next couple of days. There’s no better judge than the man who’s been on the work tab every day or the fellow whose been sitting on them. As we said, we just need to pay attention!

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