Robert Muir is a man of his word. He’s also a remarkably generous man, whose philanthropy extends to benefactoring one of our province’s top junior schools, Umhlanga College. You have to go there to see the enormity of the Muir family’s generosity, and what old friend Margot Reid and her team have done for education. It was never like that in our day.
But back to the man and his word. A year ago, when CATALOOCHEE first came on board at Summerhill, we made it known we’d like to stand the horse, as well as become major investors in him. You see, we already knew that Geoff Woodruff had always rated him the fastest horse he’d ever trained.
Lest we should forget, we need to remember Geoff Woodruff also trained JET MASTER, the new sire sensation, and a cracking winner of no fewer than eight Grade Ones, largely over sprints. So to say Cataloochee was the quickest was saying something, to put it mildly. Robert left our proposal on the basis that if we could get Cataloochee 60 mares in his initial season, we could buy 25%; if we got him to 70 mares, we could buy 50%. In just over a fortnight, the horse was closed at 75 mares. Now what remained was the deal itself, and that really revolved around how much. Friday was to be the day!
Other than to say that the Muirs & Summerhill go back an awfully long way, and that while the price was probably the biggest paid for a South African performed sprinter, it was still pretty fair, given the horse’s credentials, so this was plain sailing. Mr Muir is a straight forward fellow.
Yet Robert is the master negotiator. Strategically, he outpointed us entirely, taking us on a tour of the school he’s benefited so well, contributing a proportion of the proceeds from the sale to so worthy a cause, and then softening us up over a splendid lunch and a bottle of Hamilton Russell Galpin Peak, by some stretch top of its Pinot Noir class. We were left without options!
Now we have Cataloochee’s first foals to look forward to, and a season in which his book has already passed the 80 mark, and is on the verge of closure.
In a way, this is just a case of history repeating itself. Sixty years ago, when Pat Goss Snr’s St Pauls provided the venerable old boy with his maiden Durban July winner, Robin Muir’s mother, June, was the young hostess that organized the victory party at the old Kew Hotel on Durban’s Berea. Ever since then the Gosses have been hosting the Muirs, and the Cataloochee deal was just another indicator of who’s wearing the pants these days!