A survey of racing success as a factor of how much money you spend was recently undertaken in Australia. While its outcomes were “Aussie” specific, it’s probably fair to say, they’re likely to have universal application wherever horse racing is conducted as a serious commercial pursuit.

The answer, rest assured, is that the more money you spend, the more success you will have. The only problem is that the spending/success relationship is not a linear one. To boost your success from the bottom of the ladder to the top – a 25 fold increase – requires 300 times more money. But that has always been the way in most markets. Incremental gains come at a premium.

Or at least that’s the way it used to be. Until the “Ready To Run” concept of conducting racehorse sales was invented. You see, the Aussie figures are extrapolated largely from conventional sales, where the bloodstock is presented at the walk. Except there are no “walking” races, so to be able to pick them on the “run” as it were, opens a window of insight to the buyer which was hitherto denied.

And that’s where the difference resides, where the good “eye” for a good horse is often as good as a big wallet. It helps of course, if you have both. You see, in the South African context of the Ready To Run at any rate, there are countless examples of exceptional thoroughbreds being plucked from the less expensive ranks of the catalogue and going on to illustrious (not to mention very lucrative) careers on the racecourse. Naturally, success has come to those at the top end too, the beacon among them Horse Of The Year, Igugu, but the ratio of achievement among the “cheapies” has been wholly disproportionate to the results of the survey.

In recent times, the Emperors Palace version of the Ready To Run (which incidentally, is the original) has spawned close on 40 millionaires, the newest among whom have only just completed their three year old careers. They included three of the best of their generation, one of which, Brave Mary, fetched a modest R40 000. Doubtless as an encouragement to buyers, the sales founding consignor, Summerhill, has over the years punted the “value-for-money” proposition to its customers, no better illustrated by the annual issue of a list of its most accomplished alumni go to the Hall Of Fame page. Which is a rich reminder of the rewards awaiting those who are willing to work for them.

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