Birth Of A Stud – And A Flying Start!

Olympic Duel Stakes signals a dream beginning!

Ripple Effect charges home under Raymond Danielson for the Paardeberg Stud to win the Pongracz Olympic Duel Stakes on Met day (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

When Ripple Effect (3f Erupt (IRE)-Sea of Calm (USA) by Quiet American) flashed past the post in the R200 000 Pongracz Listed Olympic Duel Stakes on Met Day, she realized the first step of the ambitions of new breeding farm Paardeberg Stud (Pty) Ltd, a joint venture between British businessmen Charles Palmer and Steve Ajax, and South African Sally Bruss, at their newly acquired property in Paarl.

Both Britons were on hand at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth and it was especially thrilling for Charlie and Rachel Palmer, who had flown out from England, as it was their first ever winner.

The very speedy Ripple Effect was acquired at the Ashley Fortune Dispersal Sale last July for R850,000 after winner three times as a 2 year old, running 3rd in the colt’s South African Nursery Plate (Gr.2), and running Champion 2 Year Old Filly Mrs Geriatrix to ¾ length at level weights in the Ruffian Stakes.

When put into training with Glen Kotzen in Paarl, it was discovered that she had a small fetlock chip and it had to be removed, delaying her preparation for the Cape season.

Finishing well back 6 lengths off the winner in the Southern Cross Plate (Gr.2) in her debut, Ripple Effect improved in her next start, the Sceptre S. (Gr.2) finishing 4,6 lengths behind winner October Morn, but significantly only 2.5 lengths off Winter Cloud, who was to start 18/10 for the Olympic Duel Stakes with Ripple Effect ignored at 50/1!

Both Charlie and Steve decided to have a flutter at 50/1 and roared the filly home as she bolted from near last early on to rocket into a clear lead to win going away in a fast 1 min 10,6 sec for the race.

Rachel Palmer and Sandra Ajax in the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth winner’s circle with Ripple Effect (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Bred by Avontuur Stud, Ripple Effect is the 8th winner from Sea of Calm (USA), an American mare bought by Pippa Mickleburgh for Avontuur Stud at the 2006 Tattersalls December Sales.

Sea of Calm’s sire Quiet American sired 55 stakes winners including a Kentucky Derby winner, but excelled as an important broodmare sire with 149 stakes winners and features as dam-sire of important stallions Bernardini and Saint Liam.  She has been a stellar mare for Avontuur.

Ripple Effect’s sire, Erupt (IRE), won the Grand Prix de Paris (Gr.1) over 2400m in France and never raced below 2000m, yet continues to breed more sprinters than anything else.

If Ripple Effect’s victory had come at 2000m, one would not be surprised on pedigree, but like many Erupt progeny, she is built like a sprinter.

The grandam Ocean Ridge (by Storm Bird) won the famous 1200m Prix Robert Papin (Gr.2) for 2 year olds in France, was 2nd in the Coronation S. (Gr.1) (1600m) at Royal Ascot and 4th in the Cheveley Park S. (Gr.1), whilst the next dam Polar Bird (Thatching) was a SW sprinter that placed in Ascot’s Diadem S. (Gr.2).

Ripple Effect is most likely a sprinter, but given her grand finishing kick, she will try 1400m in the Prix du Cap (Gr.3) on 24 February.

Her importance to the Paardeberg Stud is that she signals the endeavour of the partners’ serious intention to stock the farm with high grade stakes winning mares.

“We don’t view our investment in the 140 ha new farm as a vanity project” says Charlie, “it’s a serious attempt to run a successful enterprise on business principles, focused on the aim of producing top end Graded Stakes Winners.”

“For this reason, we aim to steadily build a broodmare band of quality stakes winning performers, each acquisition carefully selected and regarded as a foundation mare.  We are also doing some partnership mares with local owners who would like to breed with us. We want to make a success of it.”

Designing a stud farm from scratch is a blank canvass which starts with the quality of the land, and Paardeberg Stud is located in Paarl close to Varsfontein and other top nurseries in a famed area for breeding thoroughbreds.

Paardeberg Stud – a place of great beauty and peace (Pic – Jeremy Nelson)

Sally Bruss, who set up Lammerskraal Stud in Ceres from inception for the late Mike Rattray and managed it to a highly successful level, breeding more than 20 individual Grade 1 winners, two Horses of the Year and multiple Equus Champions, is the managing director of the Paardeberg enterprise.

“The first challenge has been to build the infrastructure from scratch” says Sally. “The paddocks, the barns, the stables and the facilities, all brand new – and we are doing it at deliberate speed since we acquired the property less than a year ago”.

“Luckily, I have a very loyal reliable and hardworking staff. Many have been with me for many years and have followed me to the new farm.  We have a great energy here in building something new, so there is an excitement in the air, and we are loving what we are doing.”

Sally is also building her own family into the next generation as daughter Cait recently started the  student course at the Irish National Stud, generating an international expertise and experience which will flow into Paardeberg one day.

“We are acquiring our broodmares cautiously and carefully” she says. “We want to focus on Stakes Winning fillies off the track and young Stakes Winning mares in foal”

The Stud has already acquired several Graded Stakes winners in recent months, including their first Grade 1 winner:

Canadian Summer (Oratorio (IRE) – Autumn Splendour by Silvano) was Equus Champion 2-Year-Old 2022, winning three Stakes events the most important of which was the Thekwini Fillies S. (Gr.1) defeating future Champion Bless My Stars.

Gr1 winner Canadian Summer (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Marigold Hotel (Querari (GER)- Indira by Tiger Ridge) won the Poinsettia S. (Gr.3) and was 3rd in the Empress Club S. (Gr.1).

Gr3 winner Marigold Hotel (Pic – Supplied)

Full Velocity (Philanthopist (USA)-Circle of Speed (Aus) by Sebring) won 7 races and R647,000 including the Poinsettia S. (Gr.3) and Kwazulu Natal S. (L.).

More importantly her grandam is the brilliant champion National Colour, mother of Gr.1 winners Rafeef and Mustaqueem.

Gr3 winner Full Velocity (Pic – Supplied)

The Foundation Sire for Paardeberg Stud is the Gr.1 Breeders Cup Mile Champion EXPERT EYE (GB) who was bought from Juddmonte Stud.

He is already on the farm, although his own stallion box is still under construction.

EXPERT EYE is a very beautiful horse” says Sally.  “He stands 16 hands, he is very correct and extremely athletic. He was a wonderful racehorse and already a proven sire, particularly of good two year olds, and I love that he comes from Juddmonte breeding.

“When a farm has bred selectively from generation to generation over 40 years, any faults that arise are largely eliminated by selecting away from them and so you end up with a purity of breed which affirms a predictable and greater rate of success. You only have to look at all the champions in Expert Eye’s female line to realise the level of genetic strength he carries.  He is a true son of Juddmonte breeding!

“In England, Expert Eye’s first crop which raced in 2022 had 22 individual two year old winners, his second crop last year had 17.   That he can be so prolific when running in the white heat of British racing against the likes of progeny of Franke and Dubawi reassures me that he is going to be a big success in South Africa.”

“He sired some really good two-year olds in England last year including a Royal Ascot 2YO Stakes Winner, plus the brilliantly fast Gr.3 winner Juniper Berries and a good colt Witness Stand, beaten a head in the Horris Hill S. (Gr.3) at Newbury.”

Gr1 Breeder’s Cup Mile Champion Expert Eye holds court as the foundation sire (Pic – Melanie Sauer)

Charlie Palmer is best known in business circles as a London Property developer, but his group of companies include diverse and interesting businesses.  They include Tried And Tested Technologies Pty Ltd which developed Antigen and Antibody tests to combat COVID and was appointed by the British Government in the roll out of rapid lateral flow tests. It places Charlie in an understanding position in regard to the AHS virus and the potential for South African bloodstock to move beyond the constraints of the current export problems.

“Ultimately, we aim to think globally, rather than locally” says Charlie “and this is why I developed the interest with Steve in founding Global Team Racing.  I have long been an ardent sports fanatic and when I couldn’t play rugby any more, I began refereeing.”

“The idea that racing might re-invent part of itself and attract a new and different generation of fans and customers intrigued me.  It led us to experimental racemeetings at Greyville and was the stepping stone to the origin of Paardeberg Stud”

Steve Ajax is the founder of Global Team Horseracing and its CEO. It’s an innovative hybrid which creates a shortened version of a night horserace meet, galvanizing and attracting youngsters.

Steve sees it as a sports entertainment barrier breaker – one which could empowe horse racing to directly challenge and compete with the world’s premier sports entities, including contemporary sports innovators like LIV Golf, the Indian Premier League and established sports leagues like the NFL and NBA.

“GTH is on a mission to positively transform racing and ignite a passion for the sport amongst an entirely new generation of sports fans” says Steve.

“Our expertise spans live events, broadcast productions, and cutting-edge digital experiences. From electrifying night-time race meetings that fill stadiums to mind-blowing content, GTH creates, produces, broadcasts, and distributes premium, family-friendly, racing entertainment”

“At the core is industry-leading technology which can deliver innovation and excellence “ says Steve.

“Our first trial meeting took place at Greyville in 2022 and since then we have refined our concepts and expanded the innovation to several jurisdictions across the world”

Global Team Horseracing – serious fun! (Pic – Supplied)

“It was also very exciting to win the British Sports Industry Award for Event of the Year – and this tells us we are on the right path to create innovation for the horseracing industries around the world. We very much value the part that South Africa has played and are grateful for the support in our trial runs.”

Charles & Rachel Palmer in the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth parade ring with Raymond Danielson in the Paardeberg Stud silks. Trainer Glen Kotzen (obscured) looks on (Pic – Supplied)

Fresh thinking, innovative design, new technologies, creative paths and the birth of a new stud which aims high and hopes to help South African racing and breeding to expand beyond its own borders in years to come.

This is Paardeberg Stud and for Charlie Palmer, Steve Ajax and Sally Bruss, it’s going to be an interesting and intriguing life.


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