There are a number of things that make the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale unique, locally and abroad. Firstly, its associated race, the R2.5 million Ready To Run Cup boasts the richest prize money of any race of its kind in the world. When it was initiated 25 years ago, it was the first Ready To Run Sale in the southern hemisphere, and its technological inspirations, which include the flighting of its gallops on DVDs websites and public television, were pioneering innovations, flattered in recent times by their imitation in various other parts of the world.
Five years ago, the organisers did the unthinkable: the introduction of a panel of judges, themselves prospective customers of the sale, whose function it has become to identify the best prospects at the gallops, as well as those most likely to make the cut for the next year’s renewal of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup. In the process, they assembled some of the nation’s most accomplished horsemen, instantly recognisable for their knowledge, experience and success in the game. Any panel which attracts the attendance of Mike de Kock, Graeme Hawkins, Dean Kannemeyer, Jehan Malherbe, Craig Peters, Joey Ramsden, Michael Roberts, and Sean Tarry is going to make you sit up and pay attention, given that they’re not only among the most famous names in our sport, but that their collective experience exceeds 200 years. And just to add an international flavour to it all, Bloodstock South Africa have secured the presence in each of the last four years of an international celebrity, covering both sides of the Atlantic, England, Ireland and the United States, and this year, they’ve cast their net as far as Japan, in the form of Dr. Yusuke Tsukahara. Yusuke is a veterinarian at the world-renowned Northern Farm, many times the Champion Breeder in Japan and affiliated through the Yoshida family with the greatest breeding entity in that country’s history, Shadai. Dr Tsukahara obviously has a personal interest in the gallops in the first crop of Sunday Silence’s outstanding performer Admire Main, in which Northern Farm holds a residual interest, and which will be making their debut at this year’s gallops, along with the first of Summerhill’s A.P.Arrows.
Searching for an insight into these panellists and the work they perform at the gallops, we found some pen pictures on the Summerhill website, and their interpretations of what these fellows bring to the party.
Mike de Kock: He’s the man everyone wants to know. He’s become the idol of a social set to which he never belonged, and to which, you suspect, he never wanted to belong. De Kock knows the rich and famous, he has himself become rich and famous. Yet fame has not changed him, not outwardly anyway. He doesn’t conform. He can’t; he isn’t like anyone else.
Joey Ramsden: Has a pedigree as deep as the game itself. On his way to the mountaintop. Takes a few scalps en route. His CV includes “Picked Igugu”. His obituary will say the same.
Dean Kannemeyer: Horses from his toes to the top of his head. Nothing left to prove. One of the best. Dean’s charges do the talking for him. They speak well.
Michael Roberts: Taught the British how to ride. A legend long before his time, from Japan to the United States.
Graeme Hawkins: Simply put, ‘Mr Racing’. Commentator, auctioneer and administrator, he sees them coming, while others search for clues.
Jehan Malherbe: Serves some of the biggest names in racing. When he wants to, he can say absolutely nothing with a stare that would guarantee him high political office if he ever tired of his commentary rituals at Kenilworth.
Sean Tarry: National Colour, Mythical Flight, Successful Bidder, Pomodoro to name a few. A meteoric rise through the ranks, this rocket’s got momentum, and it ain’t stoppin’ here.
Craig Peters: Master of his profession, and a walking encylopedia on the game. His binoculars bring a special dimension to the gallops.
Interestingly, at least one of these gentlemen has tipped the winner of every renewal bar last year’s Red Barrel, who galloped at Turffontein, and escaped their attention. In the end though, he didn’t slip past Mike de Kock, who “clocked” him at his gallop on the box, and secured him for Ingrid and Markus Jooste at the sale for R350 000.