Here & Elsewhere

The End of an Era

This year marks the end of an era in South African breeding circles. It will see the final yearlings by National Assembly grace the various sales rings. Remarkably not only does National Assembly have yearlings this year, but so does his son, National Emblem, and grandson, Rebel King!

Few unraced horses have enjoyed as much success at stud in this country as National Assembly has. From siring champion fillies, to producing great older horses and world class sprinters, National Assembly has left a legacy of class in the South African stud book.

National Assembly (Danzig-Renounce) stood his first season in 1988. His first crop numbered just 31 foals. Remarkably 27 (87%) won one race or more. This crop also included 5 stakes winners, including Stamford Bridge (G2 Challenge Cup) and the G3 winning filly, National Dance.

From this bright start, it just got better and better for National Assembly, who became the most successful son of Danzig ever to stand at stud in South Africa. To date, he has sired 69 stakes winners, of which 15 are G1 winners. His stars ranged from the likes of the versatile champion National Emblem and Guineas winner Beltel, to the superb, but ill-fated, sprinter, National Currency.

National Assembly sired 40 G1 performers from his 944 foals (current 2yos included) – which means that 4% of his foals proved capable of competing at the highest level. This is an impressive achievement, especially when considering the fact that he did not cover particularly outstanding mares during his first few seasons at stud.

While his daughters are known to be on the “hot” sire, National Assembly produced plenty of classy fillies during his stud career. He is the sire of champion fillies Forward Filly, Historic Lady and Enchantress. His greatest daughter, however, was Horse of the Year National Colour. Like National Currency, National Colour followed up her local success with a number of high-class performances overseas. Her greatest run, outside of this country, was her second place finish in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes of 2008. She also thrashed colts in the 2005 Computaform Sprint – when she won the 1000 metre sprint by over four lengths!

National Assembly, who is one of the country’s top sires by percentage of stakes winners to foals, is also sire of two successful sires in National Emblem and Announce, and National Emblem himself has two sire sons at stud in Nacht Musiek and Rebel King respectively.

He is also making a name for himself as a broodmare sire – and is damsire of this season’s Cape Fillies Guineas runner up Trinity House. He is also broodmare sire of champion 2yo filly, Laverna.

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Sad loss of champion sprinter

Nhlavini (National Emblem) was one of classiest and most durable sprinters seen out in South Africa in the past decade. Known for his love of the Kenilworth racetrack, Nhlavini compiled a terrific record over his six seasons on the track.
Few horses remain capable of showing top-class form from two to seven, but Nhlavini proved an exception. He built up a solid following, and was particularly popular in the Cape. He wracked up a hatrick of wins in the G2 Diadem Stakes, and won the Cape Flying Championship twice (he also ran second to the great filly Laisserfaire in the Flying Championship.) A multiple champion sprinter, Nhlavini was also versatile enough to line up in the Rothman’s July – something which few (if any) other top sprinters have done.

Nhlavini was retired to Klawervlei at the end of his racing career. I was sad to hear, however, that he recently died of colic.  He will not be forgotten anytime soon by his legions of fans!

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Dam of champion’s fantastic foal

Val de Ra’s thrilling win over the game What A Winter in Saturday’s G1 Cape Flying Championship was, without a doubt, the race of the season. Billed as a classic showdown, the Flying Championship well and truly lived up to it’s billing, and Val de Ra received a well deserved ovation after her victory.

Her dam, Minelli, is reportedly in foal to the promising sire Trippi, and she has a stunning filly foal (an own sister to the champ) by Var at foot.  Her paddock value can only be guessed at!

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Yearling’s classic name

Lot 16, at the 2012 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, is a horse with an interesting story.

A son of the popular Trippi, the colt is out of the top-class broodmare Aretha (named for the famed singer). His breeders, Terry and Annabel Andrews, first thought to leave the colt unnamed, but then opted to name him after another famed singer.

One of their best friends is a friend of James Blunt, and advised the couple to send the singer a letter requesting his permission, which they duly did.
Blunt sent a reply, stating he was delighted to have the colt named after him as long as ”it was not a Shetland pony”, and wished Annabel great success with James Blunt.
James Blunt, the equine version, has a terrific pedigree, and is a half-brother to top-class international performer Nocturnal Affair (recently a good second at Meydan).

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Western Winter mare produces top US performer

Howe Great (Hat Trick) is one of the more promising 3yos seen out this year in the USA. The Team Valor owned and bred colt has won three of four, including Saturday’s Kitten Joy Stakes (a $100,000 race over 1700 metres). He is out of the winning Western Winter mare, Ginger Sea. The latter, bred by Riethuiskraal, was sold at the 2004 Caesars National Yearling Sale, for R450 000.  Ginger Sea’s granddam, The Cruel Sea, was a ten time winning stakes winner. This is the family of 16 time winner and sire Blazing Inferno.

Howe Great may be aimed at the G2 UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night.

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Top farms show style

Klawervlei recently hosted its annual pre-Met luncheon at Jonkersdrift this Sunday past. The event has become one of the highlights of the year, and this year was no exception.

As the guests arrived they treated to a host of alcoholic fuelled beverages and oysters. Klawervlei also introduced a band for the first time – and that proved one of the hits of the day.
While guests were treated to a superb meal, Klawervlei director, John Koster, got proceedings underway with a short and sweet welcoming speech, which went down as well as did the many fine wines on offer.

Hats off to Klawervlei, who also showed visitors their impressive yearling draft the previous Friday, and the events manager for arranging such a lovely day, it was a treat to attend.

Guests were also treated to stud farm visits at both Highlands and Drakenstein. As well as being shown some superbly bred yearlings, both Highlands and Drakenstein laid on excellent hospitality.

It was also lovely to see both Trippi and Horse Chestnut (both of whom reside at Drakenstein) looking in the pink. Many guests in attendance got goose bumps seeing Horse Chestnut, arguably this country’s best ever racehorse, in the flesh.

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