Hope springs eternal in racing and Yearling Sale is up and running

GOT IT ALL. Silvano colt I Want It All fetched the early best price at the Cape Premier Yearling Sales in January, being knocked down for R3 million. Picture: Jack Milner.

The National Yearling Sale is being held in Germiston this weekend in what must be the most adverse circumstances the venerable event has faced in its long history.

Sickness and economic blight are everywhere.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of interest in offerings from top stud farms throughout the country – and auctioneers Bloodstock SA will hope to see heavy hitters weighing in remotely if they can’t be in the atmospheric “bullring” of the TBA Sales Complex in Germiston.

Thoroughbred horse sales often defy tough times and dire predictions – perhaps because horse racing offers a wonderful escape from prevailing gloom. Just last week in Australia, an auction record for a broodmare was smashed.

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Foreign buyers, who have boosted NYS turnover in recent years, will be able to bid online and the likes of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the sheikhs of Dubai could again be prominent.

Last year’s sensational all-time record of R9-million for a yearling is highly unlikely to be bettered in the current coronavirus blight. But a few million might be bid for a full-brother to superstar colt Hawwaam – currently Europe-bound after cutting a swathe through South Africa’s Grade 1 races – and a half-brother to Met champ Rainbow Bridge and Cape Guineas winner Golden Ducat.

The mother of this magnificent trio is Halfway To Heaven, whose repeat mating to Silvano has produced the colt Celestial City – Lot 185 on the catalogue for Friday.

The sale, sponsored by Emperors Palace, takes place on Friday and Saturday, starting at 11.30am on both days.

More than 130 yearlings have been withdrawn from the original 479-strong catalogue, largely due to health fears about Western Cape stud farm staff travelling to the Highveld – the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. Transport cost in an economic meltdown has also been a big factor.

Ridgemont Highlands have pulled out their entire consignment of 28 young horses, while Klawervlei has nixed 19 of their 29 entrants.

However, other prominent producers like Drakenstein, Wilgerbisdrift, Summerhill and Varsfontein are represented by an array of horseflesh bred in the purple.

A lot attracting plenty of attention is No 453, by top-rated American sire Uncle Mo. Out of imported mare Ubiquitous Mantel, the colt has been consigned by the famous Mauritzfontein Stud near Kimberley.

Along with his headline-grabbing son mentioned above, four-time South African champion sire Silvano is represented by more than two dozen youngsters. One of these is a colt from brilliant race-mare Princess Victoria and called Power Surge, while another colt is Pyromaniac by Pine Princess.

Former champion sire Dynasty, father of Saturday’s Durban July hero Belgarion, is no longer with us but has his name living on via six offerings on this sale. Colts from All Afire and Franny look the picks.

Well-established stallions What A Winter, Var, Duke Of Marmalade, Vercingetorix, Oratorio and Gimmethegreenlight are competing with up-and-comers Pomodoro, Flower Alley, Master Of My Fate and Futura, while first-crop dads include the exciting imports Admiral Kitten (winner of a Grade 1 race in the US), Quasillo (the only son of fabulous racer Sea The Stars currently at stud in SA) and The United States (an Irish-bred son of Galileo who excelled in Australia).

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