All Can Play, All Can Win

Sithela storms away from the top 3yo in Gauteng & KZN in the Sophomore 1000 on Saturday.

Paging through the latest issue of the Summerhill Sires brochure, I came across a truism which is as applicable to the Rugby World Cup as it is to the sport of horse racing. Emblazoned across a beautiful close up photograph of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup are the words, “All can play, all can win. Victory goes to the hungry.” Whilst this might not have been exactly what was intended when King George V’s sister, Princess Alice and her husband, donated this treasure of a trophy to the Johannesburg Turf Club during the Royal Visit in 1922, the words couldn’t be more faithful to the history of the Ready To Run Sale.  Last week I invited breeders of this column to visit the Summerhill website ( if they wanted to recall the sale’s most famous graduates and the modest outlays the bulk of them had involved, but I know my readers.  Many of you have followed my advice, but there are an equal number of “defaulters”, so to help you understand what I mean, I’m going to refresh your memories with a few of these names, their costs and their earnings:

Sold For Earnings to date
Imbongi Russian Revival x Garden Verse R 70 000.00 R 8 887 000.00
Paris Perfect Muhtafal x Candle Princess R 80 000.00 R 5 263 925.00
Igugu Galileo x Zarinia R1 million R 5 071 850.00
Pierre Jourdan Parade Leader x Vin Fizz R 60 000.00 R 4 167 500.00
Hear the Drums Gold Press x Winning Glory R 42 000.00 R 1 816 080.00
Emperor Napoleon Kahal x Ellinore R 60 000.00 R 1 545 610.00
Icy Air Jallad x Nordic Air R 60 000.00 R 1 264 905.00
Amphitheatre Braahsee x Great Attraction R 30 000.00 R 1 203 826.00
Bold Ellinore Kahal x Ellinore R 60 000.00 R 1 096 880.00
Fork Lightening Rambo Dancer x Dancing Firelight R 75 000.00 R 1 077 830.00
Catmandu Makarem x Gyspsy Spirit R 60 000.00 R 1 036 110.00
Bhekinkosi Kahal x Amabokoboko R 65 000.00 R 685 085.00
Dynamite Mike Fard x Beyond the Call R 50 000.00 R 614 260.00
Mannequin Kahal x Model K R 80 000.00 R 612 275.00
Coastal Waltz Rambo Dancer x Coastal Relative R 65 000.00 R 560 700.00
Alejate Muhtafal x Tristam’s Frolic R 60 000.00 R 531 755.00
Freecell Makareem x Game R 70 000.00 R 494 610.00

We all know that times are tough though, and that a racehorse involves more than a modest outlay.  There are some who will draw comparisons with a luxury motorcar, but the reality is, cars can’t earn you a living, no matter how fast they go, and this writer knows of no car that grows in value.  We also know that it’s not every racehorse that reaches for the stars, and that like cars, they too, can depreciate.  But there have been an astonishing number emerging from the Ready To Run Sale that have earned their purchase price many times over, and among them have been a regular stream of real jewels, several of which have been sold on to international interests for tens-of-millions of rands, literally.

Getting back to the topic of my headline, the reality is, all can play.  The Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale is the only one of its kind in the world where there is a standing arrangement between most vendors and their clients, of a facility to pay for your purchases in several installments.  Most of these offerings kick in at R60 000 in aggregate purchases, enabling payment in three-monthly installments (ie.R20 000 per month), and the arrangement extends all the way to R300 000, where buyers can settle in six installments. There is no interest attached, as long as you meet your obligations, and that makes the sale and its associated R2million race accessible to a much wider audience.  The stakeholders have purposely limited the number of horses entered for the sale to ensure that both the sale and the race offer the best odds in the world.  Nobody really knows where the jewels will be found, but the history of the Ready To Run tells us that, contrary to popular perceptions about horse racing in general, you don‘t have to spend a fortune to buy a champion.

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