We penned a piece yesterday on those “magnificent men and their flying machines”, and we were talking about our judges panel for next week’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Gallops (at Summerhill on Friday 19th October 11 am). Summerhill’s inauguration of the Ready To Run was initiated by the belief that it’s difficult enough to pick a horse on the way he looks and the way he walks on a conventional sale, but because this game is about running rather than walking, there’s an obvious advantage for the would-be investor if he can see his choices in their quicker paces.
That the sale has been an unqualified success is beyond debate, as it has consistently thrown up a greater proportion of Stakes winners and Stakes performers, pound-for-pound, than any other sale on this continent, perhaps the world. There are not too many exceptions to the rule that those who’ve found the best prospects, have been influenced by the way the horses galloped.
That’s how Gary Alexander found Pierre Jourdan, it’s the way Paul Matchett unravelled Mannequin. Ronnie Napier and Michael Fleischer discovered Imbongi through trust and a lifetime of observation; Peter Fabricius leant on integrity when he bought Hear The Drums. Sean Tarry drew on his street smartness with Extra Zero, and Tyrone Zackey on his gut-feel for Smanjemanje. Tony Moodley followed his heart for Checcetti.
Obviously, the opinions of any panel comprising Mike de Kock, Sean Tarry, Jehan Malherbe, Joey Ramsden, Michael Roberts, Craig Peters, Dean Kannemeyer and Graeme Hawkins are going to be invaluable to anyone needing either assistance or reassurance in what they’re looking to buy, yet there are many stories of great horses being bought on the advice of those that are closest to them, our jockeys and grooms.
In many respects, like any other luxury goods business, the customer’s loyalty is built around good faith and the element of trust that flows from a relationship, and it’s in our best interests that whatever we share with a customer is on that basis. Some years ago, Bill Strydom enjoyed the confidence of one of our grooms, who urged him to buy a horse called Fanyana. At R95 000 in the ring, you might say the horse cost a little more than we anticipated (it might not sound like a lot of money now, but in those days it was a tidy sum). That was on the Sunday of the sale; two Thursdays later, Fanyana lined up at the Vaal and skated home by 3.5 lengths on the bit. He went on to win 11 races including three Group One performances under the expert tutelage of the late Buddy Maroun. He was game, he was durable (you had to be, if you were going to survive in Buddy’s yard) and he was fast, and he sparked the beginning of a regular stream of customers who sought the
counsel of John Motaung, one of our top jockeys and graduate of our American scholarship programme at Becky Thomas’ incomparable Sequel Stallions Farm.