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Industry Updates

THE HEAD REARS AGAIN

longfields and foal post image
longfields and foal post image

Longfields and foal

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION

A case brought against stud book authorities in the federal high court of Australia by a past chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, Bruce McHugh, for the right to practice artificial insemination on his mares, has brought this decades-long debate back into the spotlight.

Let me say at the outset, in the short term, the practice of artificial insemination would be extremely beneficial to Summerhill Stud from a financial perspective, because two thirds of the broodmare population of South Africa resides so far away from us as to make travel inconvenient. We’re reminded regularly by our colleagues in the Western Cape, that if our stallions were standing there, they would be massively popular.

However, apart from the remarks made by our old friend and Australian visionary, John Messara, about the anti-competitive impact of a ruling in favour of artificial insemination, they’re other far-reaching consequences, which neither Mr McHugh nor anyone else connected with the case appear to have thought through. It follows that if we could access these mares by the simple delivery of semen straws on the overnight plane to Cape Town, we’d open up new markets.

John Messara piece from The Mercury

Messara warns artificial insemination “would be lunacy”

Arrowfiled Stud chief John Messara, in his 1st public comment on the controversial Artificial Insemination (AI) litigation begun last week in Australia’s Federal Court, stated the “consequences of the introduction of AI would be different to those which are contemplated by its proponent Bruce McHugh” (former leading bookmaker and Sydney Turf Club chairman)

Messara emphasised that “rather than creating more competition, it would concentrate stallion power in the hands of the few farms who control the proven stallions at the top of the list.”

He explained: “To date, conception by natural means has placed a lid on the number of mares each stallion can serve, but if that lid is lifted through AI the consequences could be dire for the industry. With breeders flocking to proven horses, huge numbers of mares would be inseminated by a small number of the most commercially desirable stallions and in this way there would be less competition, rather that more competition among stallion owners.

Gene pool

So while the stallion fees might reduce to accommodate the much larger books, the revenue of the big farms would increase substantially and that would lead to bigger profits, increased concentration of industry power and reduction of competition.”

Messara also noted: “Then you have the impact on the gene pool. The few thousand mares that comprise the active band in Australia will be served by a handful of stallions; logic dictates that AI would be harmful to the diversity of the breed.”

Messara also stated: “Of course, if AI were ever to be introduced into thoroughbreds in Australia, horses produced by means of AI and their progeny would not be regarded as thoroughbreds in other parts of the world and would not be able to compete internationally and would therefore be useless for breeding purposes internationally as well. This has the capacity to destroy the commercial viability of the thoroughbred industry in our country.”

Messara concluded: “AI is not without its advantages in reducing the transmission of disease and assisting sub-fertile breeding stock, but the disadvantages far outweigh the possible benefits and I believe it would be lunacy to introduce AI into Australia.”

Common to most horsemen’s thoughts though, will be the fact that at any stallion farm, the stallion barn is the soul of the stud. Personally, I’m reviled at the thought of collecting semen from a stallion in an artificial vagina, on the back of a wooden horse. That’s the emotional response.

That said, as we understand Mr McHugh’s case, it is based on the fact that the restraints against artificial insemination, constitute an unfair trade practice. He has an argument of course, and there’s a possibility the court might rule in his favour.

However, unless they give some thought to what could then occur down the road, not only in relation to the narrowing of the gene pool, but to the general value of our bloodstock, the outcome could be too “ghastly to contemplate”, as a once-misguided president of South Africa so infamously said.

But if the argument that it’s an unfair trade practice is to hold up, then surely it must follow that the transfer of embryos, or for that matter, the cloning of thoroughbreds, should be permitted. Embryo transfer would enable production through surrogate mothers of a replication, in any one year, of a stream of brothers and sisters conceived on the same mating by the same stallion, from the same foundation mare. That could conceivably mean that a breeder with a “blue hen” in his stud, could take six or seven brothers and sisters from the same mare to the sales in the same year.

Equally, through cloning, he could take any number of identical siblings to a sale, and in a single renewal of a Durban July, for example, there could, quite bizarrely, be as many as six of precisely the same animal replicated in the field.

To us, that would destroy the sport as we know it. Simple as that.

Mr McHugh is reputedly a leading bookmaker. We’d be interested to see how he’d mark that one up on his odds board.

From a purely South African perspective, there has long been envy among breeders of the “shuttle” concept, and the fact that our counterparts in the Antipodes have enjoyed liberal access to some of the best horses standing in the northern hemisphere. The truth though, as we pen this note, is that the Australian Dollar represents six Rands and some change, while there is only another Rand in it in matching that to the US Dollar. This means Australian breeders are able to afford, (using their own currency), access to these stallions when they’re standing in their own backyard.

But you have to ask yourself, as a South African breeder, what our market can afford in the way of northern hemisphere stallions, in the hypothetical event that access would mean the importation of semen straws. For the sake of convenience, I’m going to assume that R100 000 is a reasonable fee to pay for a top stallion, notwithstanding the fact that some of our horses in this country command more. I speak as a commercial breeder acutely aware of the risks involved, and knowing that even at R200 000 a pop, our own stallions (like their top-end counterparts abroad) can still throw a disappointing foal. Convert R100 000 to US Dollars and you get of the order of 12 000 – 13 000 dollars. Then cast your eye across the spectrum of stallions in the United States that stand in this bracket, and you’ll be disappointed.

The truth is, our own top-of-the-range stallions are better value, because you get a highly proven animal locally for R100 000, while in the United States you may fluke a first or second season sire for that (which is pure speculation, as we know), but if you’re looking at the proven ranks, all you’re likely to get is a disappointment.

BREEDING MADE SIMPLER

breeding made simpler
breeding made simpler

Stronghold

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

HORSE DNA CODE CRACKED

For three hundred years, the welfare of the thoroughbred and the shaping of the breed has rested in the hands of the British aristocracy. In more recent times, it’s been hijacked by venture capitalists, and while that has catapulted breeding from what was originally a sporting preoccupation into an international business, it hasn’t necessarily been good for the advancement of the thoroughbred as an animal.

Commercial imperatives have witnessed an emphasis on the sales ring in the selection process, instead of the racecourse. We are in the business of “running”, and unless our focus is on the production of a runner, we’re going to fall short on the real purpose of our business and that is producing better athletes.

One of the marvellous imponderables in producing a racehorse, is the unknown of the outcome, given that we’re dealing with a hybrid, comprising strains of animals whose histories have been forged in different places, from different forebears in different eras. When breeders make their plans for a mating season, they dip their hands into the well of genetic imponderables, and unless they’re intimately connected with their horses (or have someone at their disposal who is), the outcome is often less certain than the spin of a wheel. Until now, this has left the instinctively talented horseman who knows his stock and its anecdotal history, with a distinct advantage.

In recent decades, scientists have been hard at work trying to track the genome of the racehorse, with implications for human health as well as horse breeding. At last, it seems progress has been made, and while this will not detract from the role of the artist, nor provide certainty in the outcome, what it will do is aid us in identifying the course and origins of beneficial and non- beneficial genes.

At around the same time that parallel progress has been made in the sphere of seed technology, scientists in America have advanced the cause of the horse. Alan Harmon reports…

The genome of the domestic horse has been completely sequenced. This has important Implications for better horse breeding and for studies of human health. The International Horse Genome Project’s work was done by the genomesequencing centre of the Broad Instituteof the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, in collaboration with an international team of researchers that included scientists at the University of California, Davis. “This gives us specific sequence information, which we can apply to identify the genes for specific traits in the horse,” geneticist Dr Cecilia Penedo of UC Davis told the journal Science. Dr Penedo supplied DNA from Arabian horses and Quarter Horses and worked on a horse linkage map, which identified genetic markers for various traits across the horse chromosomes.

Human health

UC Davis professor of animal science James Murray, who has worked with the Horse Genome Project since its inception in 1995, says having access to multiple genome sequences makes it easier to understand all genomes. “By looking at the horse genome, we can better understand human biology and human diseases,” he explains. The researchers noted that over 90 hereditary conditions affect both humans and horses, including infertility, inflammatory diseases and muscle disorders. Therefore the horse is an important model for improving the understanding of human diseases. The project found that the horse genome is somewhat larger than the dog genome and smaller than the human and cow genomes. They also discovered evidence that fewer chromosome rearrangements separate humans from horses than from dogs. The researchers were suprised to find the existence of an evolutionary new centromere on horse chromosome 11. Centromeres are key structural features of chromosomes that are necessary for the movement of chromosomes when cells divide, a function that ensures normal distribution of all genetic material to each daughter cell. This functional, but evolutionary immature, centomere may provide a model to study the functioning of centromeres.

Eliminating genetic conditions

Dr Penedo notes researchers can use the specific gene sequences to map traits in horses. She and graduate student Leah Brault are using this information to identify the cause of equine cerebellar abiotrophy, a genetic, neurological condition found almost exclusively in Arabian horses. Studies show that a horse can carry the gene for equine cerebellar abiotrophy and not be affected by it. However, if two horses carrying the gene are bred, there is a 25% likelihood the foal will manifest the condition, which causes serious nearological problems including head tremors and poor equilibrium.

Jockey "Monkey Crouch" and Racehorse Speed

jockey monkey crouch
jockey monkey crouch

Click above to watch

“Jockeys - Win or Die Trying”

“A SKILLED JOCKEY CAN LESSEN THE WORK OF A RACEHORSE”

“Major horse race times and records improved by 5% to 7% around 1900 when jockeys adopted a crouched posture,” reported researchers in a recent study, entitled “Modern riding style improves horse racing times”.

Horsetalk writes that researchers have shown that the “monkey crouch” adopted by jockeys helped improve horse speed over the more conservative position adopted by riders of earlier eras.

The findings of Dr Thilo Pfau, Dr Andrew Spence, Dr Sandra Starke, Dr Marta Ferrari and Professor Alan Wilson were reported in the journal Science this week.

“When animals carry loads, there is a proportionate increase in metabolic cost, and in humans this increase in cost is reduced when the load is elastically coupled to the load bearer,” they wrote.

“We show that jockeys move to isolate themselves from the movement of their mount.

“This would be difficult or impossible with a seated or upright, straight-legged posture.

“This isolation means that the horse supports the jockey’s body weight but does not have to move the jockey through each cyclical stride path.

“This posture requires substantial work by jockeys, who have near-maximum heart rates during racing.”

The old-fashioned riding style before 1900 involved long stirrups.

It was American jockeys who started to compete successfully in British racing using the now familiar shorter stirrups and a monkey-crouch position.

The style was popularised by US jockey Ted Sloan, which gave rise to the expression “monkey on a stick” to describe the position.

The 5%-7% time drop in times was huge, with race times since then only edging gradually down.

The researchers attached inertia sensors to the saddle and to the jockey to allow them to measure the movement of both the horse and jockey independently and then compare the data.

They speculated that the crouched riding style of modern jockeys allows them to avoid the acceleration and deceleration that the horse has to apply to an inert load, so that the jockey maintains a comparatively constant speed throughout each stride, thus making less work for the horse.

The results showed that the forwards and backwards, and up and down movements, of the jockey was much less than that of the horse.

This scientifically shows that a skilled jockey can lessen the work the horse has to do, resulting in an increase in speed.

The researchers said that the crouched style could also reduce aerodynamic drag, but their calculations indicated this would have accounted for just 2% of the 5%-7% improvement in racing times.

ROBERT CLARK : Rembrandt's Acknowledgement

robert clark thoroughbred artistRobert Clark
Thoroughbred Artist

The press release on A.P.Arrow’s purchase for South Africa, has provoked a flood of congratulations on a scale we’ve not seen before. One of his most avid supporters is a man known in American art circles as the “Rembrandt of Racing”, Robert Clark. He took the trouble to write to us.

“I have been a big fan of AP Arrow for quite some time. I painted Azeri for Michael and Lenora Paulson a few years back and became friends with them. I was painting live at Gulfstream Park when AP Arrow won the Skip Away Stakes a couple years ago and joined the Paulson’s in the winner’s circle for the win photo, which I have hanging on my studio wall. So, as you can see I’m not just a casual fan of the sport or of this particular horse; I followed all of his races and know very well that while he never picked up his Grade 1 victory, he ran against the toughest competition year after year. He’s run with several horses that will be in the Hall of Fame some day. Add to that his pedigree that is impeccable and you have just acquired what will probably be a tremendous stallion. As sad as I was to see him leave the United States, after having a chance to study your farm’s web site for the last few weeks I am extremely impressed and realize that the best possible thing that could happen to AP Arrow is for him to have found his way to Summerhill.

I’ve been told by Shadwell manager, Rick Nichols, that Sheikh Hamdam was amazed by his painting of Invasor. I’d love to create an exciting painting of AP Arrow in action and/or a regal conformation painting set there at his new home”.

 robert clark website linkrobert clark invasor link

 

visit www.robertclark.us                    view Robert Clark’s painting of Invasor

Daily News 2000 and Woolavington Stakes

Zirconeum
(Photo : Gold Circle)

 “BIG RACE DAYS : ALWAYS A CAUSE CELEBRE FOR VUMA”

Those who read the Sporting Post will undoubtedly know by now that, come the big days, there’s always a drum banging for horses that know the taste of Africa’s finest horsefeed.

Saturday’s gathering of the best three-year-olds in the land, witnessed the renewal of the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1) and the Woolavington Stakes (Gr.1), an assembly of the best colts and fillies respectively and the principal trials for the sophomore generation aiming at the biggest horse race in Africa, the Vodacom Durban July.

There was nothing really surprising about the outcome of either, as the winners represented some of the best form of the season, with Big City Life taking the colt’s version, and Zirconeum, bred across the valley from Summerhill by our neighbours, Karen and Warwick Render at Bush Hill Stud, snatching the laurels in the fillies’ version.

What wasn’t surprising though, was that the first three home in the Daily News 2000 were all sustained by Vuma (Big City Life trained by Glen Kotzen, Dan De Lago (Charles Laird) and Captain Scott (Alec Laird) while Zirconeum, the little filly with the heart of a giant, was another feather in the already substantial cap of Mike de Kock.

No doubt, knowing the protagonists, these fellows will all march on to the Greyville track on the first Saturday in July to the Vodacom jingle.

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MEDAGLIA D’ORO : A windfall for Sheikh Mohammed

Medaglia D’Oro
(Photo : Thoroughbred Times)

There’s been plenty of news of late of new property acquisitions by Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and then on Friday we were greeted by the announcement that he had purchased the “hottest” young stallion in the United States, Medaglia D’Oro. Those that attended the 2007 version of the Dubai World Cup will recall Medaglia D’Oro’s stirring battle in the closing stages of the world’s richest race when he succumbed, only just, to the persistent urgings of Pleasantly Perfect, and we can attest, following a recent visit there, to the fact that Medaglia D’Oro has let down into one of the most spectacular specimens of a young stallion imaginable.

Besides having spawned the highest rated filly (of any age) in the world right now in the form of Rachel Alexandra, (20 ¼ winner of the Kentucky Oaks (Gr.1) just over a month ago, and vanquisher of the colts in the second leg of the American Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1), Medaglia D’Oro rewarded Sheikh Mohammed’s boldness within a day, with yet another Grade One winner from his first crop in the shape of Gabby’s Golden Gal, who walked off with the laurels in the Acorn Stakes (Gr.1) at the Belmont meeting in New York.

Medaglia D’ Oro’s sire, El Prado, is something of an aberration as a stallion. A son of the thirteen time European Champion, Sadler’s Wells, he raced exclusively in Ireland on turf, and was a Grade One winner of the National Stakes as a two-year-old before his acquisition by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs (champion breeders of America and clients of Summerhill) where he was asked to embark on a career as a proven grass horse in a “dirty”country. El Prado warmed to his new career with relish, twice topping the American sires log, and it now looks as if he might make a third career for himself as a sire of sires. Everything about him suggested that success on the dirt tracks of the United States was an unlikely outcome to his career, yet it goes to show, there is little we can do to predict the future of stallions, besides educated guessing.

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Classic double for the Becks at GAINESWAY FARM

Birdstone
(Photo : Stallion Register)

Just on twenty years ago, I was privy to a glimpse at an intimate connection at the Breeders’ Cup meeting of 1990 between local “el padrino”, Graham Beck, and the then founder not only of Gainesway Farm, but also of the Breeders’ Cup, John Gaines. Earlier that day, Buddy Bishop, renowned solicitor operating in Lexington, Kentucky, and legal counsel to what was then the principal opposition to Gainesway, the Hancock family’s famous Claiborne Farm, confided in me that a South African was rumoured to have purchased Gainesway. I was astonished, and dismissed it as conjecture. After all, this was the farm that housed the likes of Lyphard, Blushing Groom, Riverman, Vaguely Noble, Irish River, Cozzene, Afleet etc, and it was almost inconceivable that it should be a South African that had put up his hand for this iconic property, when all the world was there to compete for it.

It turned out that Buddy Bishop’s “intelligence” was spot-on, and that the enterprise of Graham Beck, the stuff of legend in South Africa, had indeed laid claim to one of the greatest titles in thoroughbred racing. I wrote about this property two weeks ago as a place of solace to me on the passing of my late mother, and today we can celebrate the fact that one of its resident stallions, Birdstone (who spoilt the party for Funny Cide in his quest for the American Triple Crown, by snatching the laurels in the final leg of the Belmont Stakes (Gr.1), has produced from his very first crop, two winners of separate legs of the Triple Crown.

The first and arguably the most famous leg, the Kentucky Derby (Gr.1) was taken in spectacular fashion by a 50-1 chance in the form of Mine That Bird (by Birdstone), who came from a shotgun position at the back of the field to land a storied victory by six, and who was the sole pursuer of the filly Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1) a fortnight later.

In the absence of the filly, Mine That Bird was made a certainty by the bettors for Saturday, and he looked home and hosed shortly after they turned into Belmont’s fabled straight, only to be swamped by two foes, one of whom was his paternal half-brother, Summer Bird, who came home to proclaim his sire, if not yet quite in the same league as Medaglia D’Oro as a commercial stallion, certainly every bit as serious a property in reality.

Birdstone is the son of a Kentucky Derby winner himself, the rather unattractive and poor legged Grindstone, he in turn by Unbridled and tracing back, (no alarms), to Mr. Prospector, whose stamp on the American classics is as indelible as any stallion in history. As for Birdstone, he’s not a big fellow (I would say he stands 15’3 at the most) and he’s what one might describe as a “plain brown job”. However, and particularly considering his ancestral belongings, he’s a clean legged horse, well balanced and displays the touch of class that separates the serious from the ordinary.

   

Watch the 2009 Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby

THE INVESTEC ENGLISH DERBY (GR.1)

Saturday’s smashing victory in the greatest Derby of them all, the one at Epsom Downs in England, by Sea The Stars was a moment to remember.

ADMIRE MAIN : Africa's First Son of Sunday Silence

admire main africa rss

Many people appear to think this is not a sensible time to be investing in assets of any kind, let alone racehorses. Yet in the annals of the Goss family, it’s only a matter of history repeating itself. When Pat Goss snr found himself in the winner’s circle in the aftermath of St Pauls’ victory in the 1946 Durban July, he immediately set out to acquire a son of the world’s pre-eminent stallion at the time, Hyperion, applying the entire first prize to the purpose.

Just a month ago, the Summerhill contingent returned to the farm from a triumphant National Yearling Sale. Within a matter of weeks, they’d applied the entire proceeds (and then a bit) to the acquisition of two new stallion prospects, one of which, A.P.Arrow, was the subject of this column a fortnight ago.

In another ground-breaking event in a long-standing history of “firsts”, the nation’s leading breeders have teamed up with Japan’s perennial Champion establishment, Shadai Stallion Station and Northern Farm, in bringing this continent its first son of Sunday Silence. While it would insult his fame to repeat the detail of his achievements here, it’s fair to say, Sunday Silence has had as profound a breed- shaping impact on the evolution of the thoroughbred as any stallion of the modern era.

CORRECTIVE SURGERY - How far is too far?

foal
The Corrective Surgery Debate
(Photo : Annet Becker)

 

Early assessment and close monitoring of a foal’s conformation is crucial so that measures can be taken to improve any abnormalities. However, one particular treatment, ‘corrective surgery’, has become so commonly performed on even minor conformational imperfections that many are now questioning whether it is being carried out too frequently and whether its disclosure at the yearling sales should be mandatory.  James Tate BVMS MRCVS writes the following report for the UK’s Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder.

 

Knock-kneed or bow-legged
‘Angular limb deformities’ are conformational abnormalities seen most commonly in thoroughbred foals that require early recognition and treatment.

 

They occur more frequently in front legs, are seen when viewing the foal from the front or back and are broadly categorised into two types – ‘valgus’ and ‘varus’. A valgus conformation is where the limb deviates away from midline, for example, a foal with valgus conformation of its knees is often described as being ‘knock-kneed’. A varus conformation is where the limb deviates towards midline, for example, a foal with varus conformation of its knees is often described as being ‘bow-legged’.

 

Angular limb deformities occur most commonly at the knee (carpus) but also quite frequently at the fetlock joint or the hock. The degree of the deformity is usually evaluated by repeated visual examination but can also be measured and assessed using x-rays. The main problem is often an imbalance of growth in the growth plates. For example, if the outside of the growth plate just above the knee is growing slower than the inside, then the foal’s leg will deviate away from midline and so develop a carpal valgus conformation – knock-kneed.

 

Congenital and acquired deformities

These conformational deformities are broadly grouped into congenital or acquired forms, with congenital deformities being present at birth and acquired deformities usually appearing at a few weeks of age.


Congenital abnormalities are caused by either laxity of joint ligaments or incomplete formation of the small bones of the knee or hock. Careful palpation of joints should establish the presence of joint laxity and the conformation of such foals can usually be corrected successfully with conservative management, even in relatively severe cases.

 

Incomplete formation of the knee or hock bones is typically found in premature foals and so x-rays should be performed as a routine.

 

Conservative management of angular limb deformities is successful in most foals and, in fact, a degree of carpal valgus conformation is normal in a newborn foal.

 

Therapy consists of restricting exercise to box rest with a limited turnout period per day, providing a firm bedding and turnout pasture, as well as corrective hoof trimming and, if necessary, the use of glue-on extensions that force the foal to straighten its legs. This allows the growth plates to be stimulated but prevents stress and compression on the affected side of the growth plate. If the affected limb of a newborn foal can be manually ‘straightened’ because it is being caused by joint laxity, then conservative management will usually be successful. More severe cases are treated with splints or limb casts, but these should be used with caution and changed regularly to avoid skin rubs.

 

Acquired angular limb deformities are caused by asymmetrical bone growth from the growth plate, with one side of the growth plate growing faster than the other. Sometimes the cause of such deformities is not known, but it can be the result of injury to one side of the growth plate, uneven loading on one leg due to lameness of the other leg, inappropriate nutrition (for example, too much nutrition or an incorrect calcium/phosphorous ratio), excessive exercise, or improper foot-trimming.

 

Whilst affected foals can also be treated conservatively, this is when many foals are booked in for surgery.

 

Corrective surgery – more now than ever

There are two surgical treatments that should be used for the more severe cases but which are now being used more than ever.

 

Both techniques depend on continued growth in order to straighten the leg and so should ideally be carried out before the foal is two months old (especially in fetlock deformities) and in severe cases the techniques can be performed together.

 

The first surgical technique is a periosteal elevation, which is carried out on the side of the growth plate that is not growing fast enough and its aim is to stimulate growth on this side of the growth plate. The outer surface of the bone (the periosteum) is thought to have a restraining influence on growth and by removing a strip of periosteum over the slow-growing side of the growth plate, growth is stimulated. For example, periosteal elevations are performed on the outside of the knee in a foal with carpal valgus, or the inside of the knee in a foal with carpal varus. An inverted ‘T-shaped’ incision is usually made approximately 2.5cm above the growth plate and its maximum effect is seen after approximately two months.

 

It has a few advantages over the second surgical technique described below in that it is a one-off surgery, it is minimally invasive and there appears to be little risk of over-correction, although some argue that this is because it is not that effective. Indeed, recent research has suggested that foals with the mild deformities currently treated by periosteal elevation generally improve without the need for surgery if treated with box rest and corrective farriery alone.

 

The second surgical technique works in the opposite way to a periosteal elevation, in that it slows down the side of the growth plate that is growing too fast.

 

Temporary transphyseal bridging is the insertion of metal implants to slow down

the growth of one side of the growth plate to allow the other side to catch up.

 

Traditionally, a staple is inserted over the growth plate or two screws are placed either side of the growth plate and either wires or plates join them together.

 

However, more recently, a new method of inserting a single screw across the growth plate has been developed, as it has the advantage of a better cosmetic result. All of these methods are very effective.

 

However, the metal implants must be removed as soon as the leg is straight, otherwise over-correction and deviation in the opposite direction may occur.

 

There is no doubt that, if left untreated, severe angular limb deformities cause big problems for horses and the result is often osteoarthritis of the joints which have been put under excessive pressure by the poorly balanced limb.

 

Veterinary surgeons have become so proficient at these corrective surgeries that they are becoming very widely used, even for minor conformational abnormalities. Therefore, the possible disadvantages must be discussed.

 

Are there any downsides to such surgery?

In 2006, Santschi et al reported on their findings from studying the conformation of 199 thoroughbred foals from birth to yearling auction age, and found that knee and fetlock conformations change greatly with foals, generally becoming less carpal valgus and more fetlock varus as they become older.

 

This could lead the reader to suggest that it may be difficult to ‘correct’ a foal’s conformation to exactly the right degree as its conformation is likely to alter after corrective surgery has had its effect. However, in reality veterinary surgeons are now so good at judging these corrective surgeries that this is rarely a problem. The only significant practical downside of the surgeries seems to be the minimal scars and white hairs that can be left after the procedures, if the breeder is unlucky – although one or two do attempt to fix this with a little boot polish at the sales!

 

From an auction sale point of view, these corrective surgeries are excellent and have very few disadvantages.

 

However, the final important issue is whether performing all of these corrective surgeries is good for the racing careers of the horses concerned or, indeed, the breed as a whole.

 

In 2004, Anderson, McIlwraith and Douay published a paper in the Equine Veterinary Journal on the role of conformation in musculoskeletal problems in the racing thoroughbred, and the highly-respected Professor Wayne McIlwraith presented his findings at the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar at Cheltenham racecourse.


He made two significant points. First, he came to the slightly unexpected conclusion that a degree of carpal valgus, which many are currently ‘correcting’, is actually a good thing and may serve as a protective mechanism for soundness.

 

Second, he argued that we should try to “manipulate Mother Nature” when we need to and suggested that corrective surgery is not always helpful and can actually contribute to unsoundness.

 

Widespread use does spark some concerns

In summary, corrective surgeries are excellent procedures for the treatment of extreme angular limb deformities. However, their widespread use leads everyone involved in the thoroughbred industry to have two serious concerns.

 

First, is it correct to be performing so many surgeries? Second, should vendors be made to disclose which yearlings at the auction sales have had such corrective surgeries?

 

The second concern is exactly what the North American Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association have been suggesting for some time.

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BETTING WORLD 1900 : Pointer to Vodacom Durban July

Thandolwami
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Tonight’s Grade 2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville sees a highly competitive field lining up for this traditional pointer to the Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July.

With four Summerhill graduates prepped for battle; Thandolwami, Catmandu, Dynamite Mike and Let’s Get Started (Reserve), it is sure to be a cracker.

Jack Milner writes for Tab Online that the on-fire Thandolwami must be every owner’s dream. Purchased for just R80,000, Thandolwami (Woodborough x My Sweet Love) has amassed R820,150 in stake-money and can become another “Equine Millionaire” if victorious in tonight’s R350,000 feature.

Summerveld-based trainer, Craig Eudey, has done a great job with this talented four-year-old, who seems to be getting better with every run. A useful three-year-old, he has now come of age and following some high-class recent efforts, is overdue to record a big win.

Thandolwami’s recent form is most consistent. He finished second to Likeithot in the Charity Mile November Handicap, fifth behind Rudra in the Steinhoff Summer Cup, a fast finishing second to Pirate’s Gold in the King’s Cup and a one-length third behind Smart Banker in last month’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.

He has saved some of his best performances for Greyville racecourse though, having won three of his six starts at the track and placing on three other occasions. A strange phenomenon if one considers how he loves to challenge from well off the pace.

Thandolwami will once again be partnered by jockey Raymond Danielson, who has established a fine understanding with the gelding. He has piloted Thandolwami in his last seven starts for two wins, three places and two close-up fifths.

Catmandu (Makaarem x Gypsey Spirit) is in superb form and is another fighter who loves the Greyville track. In last year’s running of this very race he was denied by a nostril at the hands of Jet Master’s full sister, River Jetez. After a couple of mediocre performances, Gauteng trainer Andre Kirsten’s charge seems to have regained his touch and last time out in the Grade 1 Champions Challenge, Catmandu ran just 0.75 lengths adrift of Thandolwami, despite having to switch for a clear run.

Other big names in the race include Charles Laird’s Crown Of Power; Mike Bass’ Thundering Jet, Air Combat and Judged Excellent; Gavin van Zyl’s Cape Town and Duncan Howells’ Tropical Empire.

The big race kicks off at 20:40.

R350,000 Betting World 1900 Grade 2
Final Field

No Horse Kg MR Dr Jockey Trainer
1 Singing Sword 60.0 104 7 D Masour Tyrone Zackey
2 Thundering Jet 59.5 103 17 B Fayd’Herbe Mike Bass
3 Catmandu 59.0 102 9 G Wrogemann Andre Kirsten
4 Thandolwami 59.0 102 10 R Danielson Craig Eudey
5 Vision Of Grandeur (Ire) 58 100 2 F Coetzee Justin Snaith
6 Tropical Empire (Aus) 57.5 99 11 B Lerena Duncan Howells
7 Wonder Lawn 57.5 99 8 S Randolph Dean Kannemeyer
8 Air Combat 56.5 97 1 G Lerena Mike Bass
9 Crown Of Power 56.5 97 6 A Marcus Charles Laird
10 Pirate’s Gold 56 96 18 S Cormack Glen Kotzen
11 Cape Town 55 94 14 K Shea Gavin van Zyl
12 Dynamite Mike 55 94 5 K Jupp Kumaran Naidoo
13 Full Power (Arg) 54.5 93 13 D L Habib Geoff Woodruff
14 Judged Excellent 54.5 93 12 A Delpech Mike Bass
15 Al Pasha 53.5 91 16 M Byleveld Dean Kannemeyer
16 Kiribati 52 92 15 D Daniels Sean Tarry
17 Mr. Esplendid (Arg) (Reserve) 52 88 4 Reserve 2 Joey Ramsden
18 Let’s Get Started (Reserve) 52 81 3 Reserve 1 Alyson Wright

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SADLER'S WELLS : From Zero to Hero

bill oppenheim sadlers wells

 

From Zero to Hero

“Extract from the desk of Bill Oppenheim
www.thoroughbreddailynews.com

In today’s Thoroughbred Daily News, the world’s premier stallion commentator, Bill Oppenheim, writes that Sadler’s Wells is arguably the greatest sire in European history.

 

A very high-class three-year-old of 1984 (the same crop as Rainbow Quest and Darshaan), he went to stud in 1985, and his first foals were born in 1986. At the time, European sire power was at its nadir, and he led the renaissance in European sire power that today keeps many more top European mares in Europe instead of Kentucky. He’s also probably the most prolific stallion in history.


In 21 crops of racing age through the end of 2008, Sadler’s Wells had sired a truly phenomenal total of 2,149 foals… yes, that’s an average of 102 foals per crop. Even more phenomenal, Equineline tells us he has sired 280 black-type winners worldwide (13 percent of foals), and he’s also the damsire of 183 black-type winners to date. He has been champion sire in Britain and Ireland 14 times, and Primus Advertising in Ireland, which keeps track of such things, estimates he has had over 200 sons go to stud.


Yet, on 1 January 2004, little more than five years ago, there was no Sadler’s Wells sire line to speak of. He had about four really successful sons: In the Wings, who in turn sired Singspiel; Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Barathea; El Prado, who went to stud cheaply in Kentucky in 1993, but ended up the second-best sire in North America from that year’s crop of stallions (numero uno is A.P. Indy), and who topped the North American General Sire List in 2002, when Medaglia d’Oro was a three-year-old; and Fort Wood, in South Africa. Beyond those, it was getting harder and harder to argue that Sadler’s Wells was a successful sire of sires.


Enter onto the scene Montjeu. He was very possibly the very best of the 280 black-type winners Sadler’s Wells has yet sired. Winner of the Gr1 French and Gr1 Irish Derbies and the Gr1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at three, he won three more Group 1’s at four, including an imperious win in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he looked like a group horse in a maiden race. Timeform rated Montjeu at 137 both at three and at four. Yet, when he went to stud in 2001, his fee was a modest IrPound,30,000, a fraction of what his barnmate Giant’s Causeway commanded in the same season, his first year at stud. That’s all you could stand top-class 12 furlong horses for when they went to stud.


Our Insta-Tistics tables (on the TDN website) tell us that, in 2002, a total of 21 weanlings from Montjeu’s first crop averaged the equivalent of $99,982, with a median of $80,000. The conformation judges liked his first foals, and even though there was a certain amount of support from the Coolmore legions, his foals at the European sales impressed neutral pinhookers and other objective observers (as had Cape Cross the year before).


These figures represented excellent return for their breeders. You know how the Coolmore team likes to give their stallions a chance, so there were 66 yearlings sold from Montjeu’s first crop in 2003. They averaged $144,928, with a median just under $100,000, still a good return on investment for their breeders.


Montjeu’s fee for 2004, the year his first two-year-olds would race, was set at Eur30,000, the same as the year before.


Montjeu’s first crop, racing in 2004, included 16 winners, headed by the Gr1 Racing Post Trophy winner Motivator, and he finished third on the 2004 European Freshman Sire List. His stud fee was up to Eur45,000 for 2005, which looked dirt cheap by that autumn, considering not only did Motivator win the Gr1 Epsom Derby, but Montjeu’s first crop included two more Classic winners as well: Hurricane Run won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion won the Gr1 St. Leger Stakes, though his more important victory came in the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris in its first year as a 2400 meter race on Bastille Day - effectively, the “new” French Derby. After Hurricane Run won another little Group 1 contest, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Montjeu ranked second only to Danehill on the 2005 European Sire List (historical lists supplied to us courtesy of John Quinlan at Hyperion Promotions). Not surprisingly, Montjeu’s 2006 fee shot up to Eur125,000.


By 2001, the year his 13th crop were three-year-olds, Sadler’s Wells had sired the winners of nearly every Group 1 race beyond a mile in Europe, but he had never sired a winner of the Gr1 Epsom Derby. Galileo rectified that small gap in his resume, then went on to win the Gr1 Irish Derby and Gr1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. In Timeform’s lengthy essay on Galileo in Racehorses of 2004, they refer to Aidan O’Brien’s determination to run Galileo over shorter, even as short as a mile, in the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late September. His two final starts were in fact at 10 furlongs - he was edged out by Fantastic Light in the Gr1 Irish Champion Stakes, and finally finished a non-threatening sixth, behind Tiznow and Sakhee, in the 2001 Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at Belmont Park. One thing about Sadler’s Wells: he’s never been a sire of dirt horses, so why El Prado is such a good dirt sire? Who knows?


Galileo’s first foals were born in 2003, but he was only 11th on the 2005 European Freshman Sire List, the year Montjeu’s first three-year-olds put him second on the European Sire List. But when Galileo’s first crop got to be three-year-olds, it was a different story. His seven three-year- old graded/group stakes winners that year included two Classic winners; Gr1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Nighttime and Gr1 St. Leger Stakes winner Sixties Icon, as well as Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks. And throw in Teofilo, the first of two consecutive champion European two year-olds by Galileo trained by Jim Bolger, and you won’t be surprised to hear Galileo’s stud fee went from Eur37,500 in 2006 (this year’s two-year-olds) to Eur150,000 in 2007 (this year’s yearlings). Galileo was seventh on the 2006 European Sire List; Montjeu was third, behind Coolmore barnmates Danehill and Danehill Dancer.


In 2007, Galileo advanced to second behind Danehill, with Montjeu again third. Danehill ran out of three-year-olds in 2008; Galileo claimed top spot on the European Sire List, with Montjeu second. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I call Montjeu “The Derby Sire,” because in four crops of three-year-olds he’s sired six winners of 12-furlong races that are, or amount to, Derbies: Motivator and Authorized have won the Gr1 Epsom Derby; Hurricane Run and Frozen Fire (2008) have won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion and Montmartre (2008) have won the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris since it became a 12-furlong race in 2006. This year’s Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby favorite, Fame and Glory, is from Montjeu’s fifth crop of three-year-olds, and, scarily, won the Gr2 Derrinstown Derby Trial with a higher Racing Post Rating (speed figure, 120) than either Galileo or High Chaparral (also by Sadler’s Wells), who both won the Derrinstown with RPR’s of 119.


For his part, Galileo had sired nine Group 1 winners in his first three crops by the end of 2008.


Besides Nighttime, Sixties Icon, Red Rocks and Teofilo, they include 2007 champion European two-year-old and 2008 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner New Approach; Gr1 Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune (bred by Jim Bolger); triple 2008 Group 1 winner Lush Lashes (trained by Jim Bolger); Gr1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto; and 2008 Gr1 Italian Derby winner Cima de Triomphe, now trained by Luca Cumani and very much a horse to watch in the top races in 2009 once the ground gets faster again.


Interestingly, though the Maktoum family clearly no longer patronizes Coolmore stallions at the yearling sales, they have nothing against buying them privately later, by which method they acquired Authorized (by Montjeu) and Galileo’s two juvenile champ, Teofilo and New Approach, from Jim Bolger. Coolmore, which after all does still have the “factories” – Montjeu and Galileo themselves - stands only Hurricane Run (by Montjeu).


Then again, we could take a look at the list of Aidan O’Brien’s seven three-year-olds that could line up for the June 6 Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby: all seven are by Sadler’s Wells and sons. Two are by Sadler’s Wells himself (Gr2 Dante winner Black Bear Island and Gr3 Chester Vase second Masterofthehorse), one, favorite Fame and Glory, is by Montjeu; three are by Galileo (Gr1 English 2000 Guineas fourth Rip Van Winkle, Gr2 Dante second Freemantle and Gr3 Lingfield Derby Trial winner Age of Aquarius); and one is by 2002 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner High Chaparral. His second crop of three-year-olds, this year, looks much better than his first.


A final observation: it seems like the connections of every Gr1 Epsom Derby winner go to great lengths to prove that their Derby winner is not “just” a 12-furlong horse because of a perception (never actually validated, from what I can tell) that breeders will be quicker to send mares if they can prove the horse at 10 furlongs as well. So guess what? The two top sires in Europe, Galileo and Montjeu, were both 12-furlong horses; each won at least two of the three major European Derbies (though that was when the Prix du Jockey-Club was 12 furlongs), plus a 12-furlong Group 1 race open to older horses. That 10-furlong deal? It’s a complete myth. Get the right 12 furlong horse and you can top the charts.


How El Prado came to be one of America’s leading sires, and is now threatening to open a branch of the Sadler’s Wells line on the dirt, is still a bit of a mystery to everyone involved. He was a Group 1 winner at two for Vincent O’Brien, having won what Timeform described in Racehorses of 1991 as “a particularly substandard running of the [Gr1] National S….” Timeform did rate him 119 at two, but that seemed almost more by virtue of his win at the end of the season in the Gr2 Beresford Stakes over a mile. El Prado didn’t reappear until halfway through his three year-old season, was unplaced in three starts at eight and 10 furlongs, and was packed off to stud in Kentucky. He was always a pretty useful sire, but not until his sixth crop did Medaglia d’Oro appear, and his eighth crop included three $2-million earners, turf champion Kitten’s Joy and Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller on the grass, and Gr1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Borrego on the dirt. He was Leading Sire in North America in 2002, and second in 2003 and 2004.


Though he’s done well enough in Europe, and gets his share of good grass horses in North America, the truth is El Prado has really got where he is more by siring durable dirt horses with some class than by following the sire line’s otherwise all-turf pattern; he’s succeeded because his runners have successfully adapted to different conditions - dirt. And his very best horse, Medaglia d’Oro, never saw the grass except when they took him out from Frankel’s barn to graze on it - he won $5.7 million racing exclusively on dirt. And from 13 stakes horses to date in his first crop, only one has even placed in a stakes on turf; he has two graded stakes winners on synthetics, but the rest, including the mighty Gr1 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, have been on dirt. Also, 11 of his first 13 stakes horses are fillies, though whether that means anything, it would be far too early to know.


So, in five years, the great Sadler’s Wells’ prospects as a sire of sires have gone from doubtful to the point where he had the one-two sires in Europe last year, and the hottest dirt sire in North America right now. It’s a pretty big forward move.

SINGAPORE'S PREMIER RACEDAY : The South African Challenge

 Mythical Flight
Kranji, Singapore, 15 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club)

Defending Singapore Airlines International Cup Champion, Jay Peg, will jump from stall five in Sunday’s feature event at Kranji, much to the delight of trainer Herman Brown.

“It’s a good draw and gives us plenty of options to ride close to the pace, as he normally does. A lot will also depend on how quick the horses on the inside go,” said Herman Brown.

 

In 2008, Jay Peg sat quietly in second spot before sweeping into the lead for a dominant victory in the 2000m showcase race. The European Bloodstock News reports that the handsome bay has failed to win since and has run below par in three starts since undergoing knee surgery, most recently finishing down the course behind Gladiatorus and Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.

 

Mike de Kock’s charge, Bankable, will jump from stall three and is considered a possible danger to Audemars Piguet QE II Cup winner and race favourite, Presvis.


“That’s great,” said Mike de Kock’s assistant trainer Trevor Brown following the draw. “He (Bankable) is versatile with a good turn of foot and he’s had a good preparation.”

 

Sean Tarry, was left shaking his head in utter disbelief when his speed merchant, Mythical Flight, came away with barrier 11 for the 1200m KrisFlyer Sprint, where defending champion Takeover Target, well drawn on the inside, is the likely favourite.

 

“It’s a shocker. I’ve said all along we’ll be in trouble if he draws double digits,” said Sean Tarry, who was hoping to draw as close to the rail as possible but added, “We’re here to race. We wanted an inside draw, which can be vital here, but he has very good gate speed, he’s looking well and moving well.”

 

Former South African trainer Patrick Shaw, now based in Singapore, was also left deflated after drawing stall nine for local hero, the undefeated three-year-old, Rocket Man, owned by old friend of Summerhill, Fred Crabbia.

 

“Yes, I’m disappointed with the draw but we have to move on now. It’s not the end of the world but it makes his (Rocket Man) job a bit harder,” said Patrick Shaw.

 

The Australian-bred Rocket Man is the highest rated galloper in Singapore and his wins include both the Kranji and Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprints this season. Rocket Man is a half-brother to the Charles Laird-trained Gr1 winner Our Giant.

 

Summerhill Stud wishes all the South African connections “Voorspoed” and the greatest success on Singapore’s premier raceday.

Jay Peg sends stopwatches flying in Singapore

Jay Peg
Kranji, Singapore, 14 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club
)

The final countdown to the 2009 renewals of the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer International Sprint has begun.

 

This morning’s trackwork session at Kranji racecourse wound down to a sedatory pace, with most runners having already concluded the bulk of their preparations.

 

Interesting news from the Singapore Turf Club is that the only candidate to send stopwatches flying was the Herman Brown-trained 2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg, who put a broad smile on his South African connections with a solid hit-out on the Polytrack, underlining his spot-on condition ahead of the $3million race. A bullish assitant-trainer Nicolas Iguacel could not resist sending out an ominous warning after the workout: “More than ready to defend his title!”

 

Jay Peg winning the
2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup Gr1

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Breeding Racehorses : A Matter of Family

 goss family

The Goss Family
(Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)

 

The tradition of producing quality racehorses goes back almost eight decades among the Gosses. But their admiration for horses as a family has its origins in ancient Ireland, before the Battle of Boyne.

 

Ever since, they’ve held a warm affection for the sport of horseracing, and especially for the animals at the heart of it. The custodianship of that association was never more proudly revered than under the stewardships of Mick’s great grandfather, Edward, his grandfather Pat, and his own father Bryan, and today the manifestation of their obsession lies in everything you see at Summerhill.

 

It is true that in modern times, Summerhill” is a splendid, much-envied brand. Because in the eighty years since they first started breeding racehorses on a tiny scale at The Springs in east Griqualand, the Goss family have never breached the founding principles of excellence and audaciousness, laid down by the man who embodied them.

 

What you’re looking at here, all over again, is history. And more history, in the making. And you’re more than welcome to join us in making some of your own. Because there’s one thing that’s as true today as it was at the Battle of Boyne. We only win if you do.

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THE BATTLE OF THE YOSHIDA FAMILY

yoshida fammily battle

Waging battles on two fronts that took them down to the proverbial finish line last year, brothers Teruya and Katsumi Yoshida continued to dominate racing in Japan unlike any other familial dynasty in the world.

Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder reports that for the fifth consecutive year, Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm scooped the title of leading breeder with 617 runners garnering 310 wins and earning the equivalent of a mind-boggling £54,088,324. Northern-bred runners included three champions: juvenile filly Buena Vista, sprintermiler Sleepless Night and dirt horse Kane Hekili.

HIGHVELD BREEDER OF THE YEAR 2009

Catherine Hartley accepts the award for Breeder of the Year on behalf of Summerhill Stud from Peter Miller  at the 2009 Highveld Racing Awards
(Photo : JC Photographics)

It may not be the National title, but it’s certainly one we’ve always coveted, and we’re very proud to hold. For the second consecutive year, Summerhill was last night named Highveld Breeder Of The Year, and Vuma’s Catherine Hartley was on hand to pick up the silverware. Gauteng is the most competitive racing environment on the continent of Africa, and we’ve always counted ourselves lucky to be among the finalists for this prestigious award.

It’s probably an appropriate moment to revisit our standing on the National Breeders Log as well, where our lead is approaching R5 million. We’re reminded at this time of an advertisement we wrote in May 2005, as we marched to our National Breeders’ Premiership, and we thought we were reasonably comfortable with a R2 million margin. While the big lady still has a bit of singing to do, it’s a comforting thought that there is a sound buffer between us and our pursuers.

We never forget though, the sacrifices our people have made towards this achievement. It’s a sobering thought that, in our 30th year in business, that we should be so deeply indebted to so many, who’ve given up so much in getting us there.

sporting postClick here to view
South African National Breeders Log

AUTUMN IN SOUTH AFRICA

 
AUTUMN IN SOUTH AFRICA
MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE

The rains have stopped now in our part of the world, the days are blue and there’s hardly a cloud in sight. From now until September, the one thing that’s constant with us, is day after day of sunshine, the only difference lies in temperature. From nature’s perspective, Mooi River’s world goes to sleep for a few months and takes a well earned rest after so much output, so much given from September until now.

But for those of us who live here, we’re just entering another era of furious activity, weaning mares, preparing the winter pastures, preparing ourselves for the breeding season and the marketing of the stallions, assessing all the horses on the farm, particularly the mares, with a view to the forthcoming breeding season, and then writing the recommendations to our many customers around the world.

Of course, KwaZulu Natal, Africa’s racing capital, enters its Champion’s Season as we write, and so the sports are only just starting.

It’s a beautiful time at Summerhill and Hartford, and it’s not only the wonderful weather but the changes that come with the seasons, the briskness of the mornings, the warmth of mid-day and the coolness of the evenings. It’s an invigorating time, energies are lifted, and while the land and the environment go to rest, we have a little respite in which to get stuck into our intellectual pursuits.

And then we have a few things to look forward. Next month we have a draft of five yearlings arriving from Australia, two filles by the reigning European champion sire, Galileo, and colts by the celebrated international stallions, Red Ransom, Anabaa and Hussonet. On the same flight we will have a brace of new stallions, two men who will hopefully have a breed-shaping influence on our lives for many years to come.

These are momentous events in the life of a thoroughbred stud, the arrival of two progenitors who’ve been especially selected to take us to new levels.

But this little story is about autumn, not new stallions, and that is a story for another day.

INVESTEC SPONSORS ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIG FIVE

investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

Ask any student of racing twenty years ago which the greatest racing event in the world was, and they would’ve unhesitatingly answered the English Derby. Today the title is a vigorous contest between the “Derby” (as it’s commonly known), Paris’ Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai’s World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Japan Cup. Certainly, if not alone the greatest, the English Derby stands apart as the most famous.

For all that, who would ever have expected an upstart South African bank to become the Derby’s sponsor? Upstart, did we say? Yes, in global terms that’s probably an apt description, but Investec has always been an innovator, a “breed-shaper”, as we might term it in racing parlance, and that’s exactly what the local banking pacemaker agreed to this week for the next five years.

No doubt, the hand of Bernard Kantor, avid racing man and the fellow that bought us Count Dubois, was more than prominent in this relationship, which follows a £38 million revamp of the Derby’s home, Epsom Downs.

Did we leave out another marquee event when we counted the “big five”? Yes, we probably did, and that’s Royal Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which for almost two decades was sponsored by South Africa’s De Beers. The difference here is that, at the time, De Beers happened to be the world’s biggest diamond producer, whilst Investec has a way to go before it can claim the same status in the banking world. Maybe, just maybe, this is a precursor of what’s to come.

Well done, Investec. From one champion team to another, we salute you.

Of Charl Pretorius, Cocoa Rose and Jacuzzi's

 

 

“NOW THIS IS A STORY WORTH TELLING”

When Cocoa Rose steamed home in the Juvenile event at Scottsville on Sunday, the fact she was Kahal’s second highlighted youngster winning on the weekend, was not the only remarkable thing about the race.

Cocoa Rose has run just three times following her purchase for R70,000 just a few months ago at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale. This victory and her close-up second to the Graded Stakes performer, Ashjaan, has already virtually repaid the outlay of her 10 owners.

The real fable here though, is that five of her owners are “first-timers”, converted to “victimhood” by none other than one of the great scribes of the game, Charl Pretorius (of Racingweb fame www.racingweb.co.za), seen here celebrating at an address we daren’t disclose, judging by his company in the Jacuzzi!