Cape Premier Powers Up

Revitalised racing boosts the mood and the money

The 13th renewal of the new generation Cape Yearling Sale, powered by Tattersalls, and held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday, produced sparkling results against a background of a revitalised Cape horseracing.

Cape Racing’s newly established Thoroughbred Sales Division have raised the bar in double quick time, and their philosophy of an unfettered commitment to the sport has clearly captured the imagination of both the power players and broader community.

Greg Bortz – architect of change (Pic – Wayne Marks)

It was pleasing to see some familiar faces on the international buying bench, including Amanda Skiffington, who bought Varsfontein’s Handsome Prince (#59) for R2 million, the second highest priced-yearling to come under the hammer.

While year-on-year comparisons of the Cape Premier Yearling Sale are discoloured somewhat by covid and a short-lived venue change that did not garner across the board acceptance, the 2023 numbers are there for all to see.

Fortune Racing and their happy guests (Pic – Wayne Marks)

On Thursday, 122 lots were catalogued, with 109 going through the ring and 101 sold for an aggregate of R44 825 000. This compares in glowing terms with last year, when the 166 lots to sell (that’s 64% more yearlings than Thursday) grossed R43 330 000.

The average of R443 812 achieved on Thursday was 70% up on the 2022 level of R261 024, and the median of R300 000 is 71% more than the 2022 median of R175 000. Difficult to knock those numbers!

Last year’s topseller went for R2 million, and this benchmark also rocketed as the shadows lengthened over the Mother City on Thursday when Justin Vermaak, bidding in tandem with the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s International Sale Manager Danny Rolston on the telephone, paid R3,8 million for Maine Chance Farm’s Valley Of the Kings (#107).

The smashing top lot (Pic – Wayne Marks)


An exceptionally handsome son of past champion sire Gimmethegreenlight (More Than Ready) out of Captain Al’s stakes winning daughter, Victoria Lavelle, the sales-topper’s first two dams are stakes winning daughters of Captain Al and Western Winter, respectively.

The top-selling filly on the sale was Klawervlei’s (as agent) Trippi filly out of the stakes-winning Captain Al mare, Call To Account. Catalogued as the opening lot, she was purchased for R1,1 million by the Tawny Syndicate.

While their solitary big ticket buy placed the Hong Kong Jockey Club on top of the buyer log, there was interest at all budget levels with Vermaak again leading the way, his other five purchases grossing R3 450 000 at an average of R690 000.

Justin Vermaak chats to Millstream’s Jan Mantel (Pic – Wayne Marks)

Glen Kotzen Racing was next, their seven costing R 2 775 000 at an average of R396 429.

The recent dual Gr1 winning Hollywood Syndicate acquired a quintet for a gross R2 750 000 at an average of R550 000. Their basket included a milestone maiden R1 million ticket in the shape of Ridgemont Highlands’ Rafeef colt, El Kapitan (#117).

Varsfontein-based Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) topped the sire tables on both aggregate and average, with the Australian-bred son of More Than Ready’s 15 yearlings finding R11 575 000 at an average of R771 667.

Breeders of the topseller (Pic – Wayne Marks)

Maine Chance kingpin Vercingetorix had ten gross R6 825 000 for an average of R682 500, while the very popular Rafeef (AUS) was in the top mix with his ten selling for R4 925 000 (an average of R492 500).

Former multiple champion breeders Klawervlei topped the vendor charts, grossing R10 175 000, with their 18 selling for an average of R565 278. That was outstripped by Maine Chance’s average of R732 500 for their 10 lots.

Champion Robertson nursery (Pic – Wayne Marks)

The Kieswetter family will be pleased that Ridgemont Highlands grossed R3,8 million for their 8 lots at an average of R475 000.

Now everybody is racing to get a runner from this sale in the inaugural R1,25 million Cape Racing Sale Slipper, to be run on Met day, 2024.

See all the sale results here.

The Cape Racing Sales team – a job well done! (Pic – Wayne Marks)

Next major sale is the Bloodstock SA Cape Yearling Sale which will be held at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Racecourse on 26 February 2023.

What Bortz said afterwards:

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