For the unfamiliar observer, our sales catalogues are numbered according to dam alpha order. The Cape Premier Yearling Sale catalogue for 6 February starts with a ‘b’. It also means that three of Normandy’s quartet of future stars are carded to go through the ring as lots 100,101 and 102.
Oscar Foulkes seems to be taking it all in his stride as he clearly has the stock to carry the day and he writes that the annual tour by the BSA inspection team is accompanied by an element of anxiety on the part of many breeders, mainly to do with whether the yearlings get accepted for Nationals, or not.
An element of apprehension is certainly appropriate, but I think it’s misplaced.
Before I get to that, I should add that I’ve had no stress related to Alistair and Jane’s visit.
Firstly, they are knowledgeable, fair judges. Secondly, and this is most important, we breeders know in our own heart of hearts whether yearlings belong on a sale, or not. And, in my experience, the 50-50 calls have a higher risk of not selling.
The only judgement that counts, to borrow from Tesio, is the piece of wood that decides the winners of the most important races.
No, the biggest apprehension should relate to the position on the sale. When I see our important yearlings in the first 10 lots, my heart generally sinks. The same if we’re in the final part of the sale. Auctions need a buzz of excitement, and the beginning of the sale can be bit of a wait-and-see period. The end of the sale, especially if it’s been long, or noisy, or hot, can be a death zone.
Having entered yearlings out of Nordic Breeze, Nordic Light and Nordic Wind on the CPYS, I had a moment of panic, which was quickly settled by checking with Grant Knowles what the starting letter would be. It would have been a bit disastrous to be lots 3, 4 and 5, which it would have been if the sale had started with N, rather than B. I think there’s a nice symmetry to the three yearlings selling one after the other, starting with lot 100.
It will be a high intensity few minutes for us. Please excuse me if I look a little serious during the sale.
This near miss has highlighted the importance of a good spread of dam names. I can assure you that no filly from this family will be ‘nordic’ anything, ever, unless it’s named by someone else. This possibility is extremely unlikely, as the Nordic Breeze yearling is the last filly from the Nordic family we’ll be selling until at least 2024 (or later).
It might be interesting to have three yearlings from the same family through the ring one after the other, but it’s not good for stress levels. I may need to get a prescription for Urbanol to see me through the sale.
Nordic Vine’s family had many wine references in their names. Her dam, Montrachet, was named after the greatest chardonnay vineyard in the world. She was a daughter of Sauterne, referencing the part of Bordeaux where Yquem and other of the world’s greatest sweet wines are made. These mares and their progeny were bred by Jan de Clercq, and being the gourmet he was, he could draw on his finest wine experiences when naming the products of this family.
Whoever named Nordic Vine simply concocted a reference to Northern Guest (her sire) and Montrachet (her dam). Nordic Vine visited Windrush five times, so the family ended up with wind, rather than wine, references.
Given this history, it’s appropriate that the auction is being held at a top wine estate. If anyone buying any of these three yearlings wants to use a wine-related name, I’d be happy to throw some ideas around while sipping an appropriate beverage.
Whatever happens, though, I look forward to a glass of De Grendel’s finest once the three Nordics have gone through the ring. I hope (and trust) that their racing careers will give many reasons to raise a glass in the future.