Life Goes On For Basil

Thursday at 14h00 - CTS Mare and Mixed Sale

Thursday’s CTS Mare and Mixed Sale at De Grendel marks an emotional watershed event in close on forty years of breeding for the passionate Basil Nelson.

A staunch and loyal stalwart of Cape racing, Basil formed the BBP Syndicate with Garth Miller in 2004. But with the late Pharmacist’s heirs not wishing to continue in the game, the partnership will be dissolved.

“The association brought us much joy, especially with Secret Of Victoria being such a successful broodmare. I’m disappointed that Garth’s heirs do not wish to continue the syndicate. I suppose that’s the norm today. We are selling the BBP lots and I will be continuing with the syndicate after the sale,” says Basil.

Garth Miller pic Caption The late Garth Miller and Basil Nelson – an end of a happy association

Five of nine lots offered by the BBP Syndicate will be sold in absentia.

“John Koster kindly agreed to make the mares and weanlings available for viewing at Klawervlei. Secret Of Victoria is 18 years old, and in foal to Vercingetorix, so we didn’t want her and the other mares to travel.”

The mares are Lot 28 (Entrench, by Oasis Dream), Lot 74 (Secret Of Victoria by Goldkeeper), Lot 82 (The Secret Is Out, by Captain Al) and the weanlings are Lot 96 (William Longsword colt out of Entrench) and Lot 109 (William Longsword colt out of Secret Of Victoria).

Racing needs a lot more of the likes of Basil Nelson. An educated and knowledgeable student of breeding, he is currently writing a book based on the evolution of the thoroughbred.

“God willing,  I hope to complete the book by mid 2022,” he adds as he sketches his background.

Born in East London of farming stock – the Dells in the Karoo were distant family – Basil attended Cambridge Primary School.

“My Dad had a few horses at Nahoon where I used to watch from the car park about a furlong from the finish. My grandfather passed away when my Dad was 7. I only saw two photographs of him – one at his wedding and the other on the back of his horse. I suppose that’s where the passion began!”

At a shilling per dozen, farming pineapples was not lucrative in the 1950’s, so the Nelsons moved to Kimberley where Basil’s Dad was involved in building construction.

“I attended Kimberley Boys’ High where I was chosen to play Nuffield cricket in 1964. I also played 1st team rugby for both schools and 1st team soccer as well  for a club.”

Basil feels that a passion for sport and its allied competitive spirit fuels a love for racing.

In 1969 he moved to Cape Town to attend a Computer school, which proved to be a scam and later rather completed a diploma in Business Management.

“In Cape Town I developed a love for playing Squash which was ideal in the winter weather. In the 1970’s I caught the golf bug and joined the Royal Cape Golf Club.”

Basil’s interest in breeding began when he started analysing pedigrees. He commenced breeding in the mid 1980’s. It was a flying start as the first foal he and his wife bred was Maid Of Mecca, a daughter of Mecca Road, who won the Ladies Mile in 1988.

On what he feels were the high points, he says undoubtedly All is Secret and The Secret is Out winning Gr1 races like the Allan Robertson were the racing highlights.

“I believe we still hold the national record for the sale of a filly, being Best Kept Secret at the CTS sale!”

While Thursday marks a change, he says that he will continue with breeding and racing.

“You can’t remove this passion from your blood. I still have two other mares who are in foal this season. One is a maiden mare by Querari, and the other mare has a beautiful William Longsword filly at foot. It will be very difficult parting with her. I kept them as Garth did not want them. I have no horses in training right now, but believe that won’t be long in happening!”

Basil and the happy connections lead in The Secret Is Out after her 2016 Strelitzia Stakes victory at Hollywoodbets Scottsville (Pic – Gold Circle)

We asked Basil about the future of our breeding.

“I think we are very fortunate in having such good lines in South Africa, despite our weak currency and inability to shuttle stallions, as they do in Australia. When Jet Master, Fort Wood and Captain Al were no longer available, all breeders must have been very concerned. With all three being prevalent in our breeding, new kids like Gimmethegreenlight and Querari arrived and have performed admirably. One must include the Gone West stallion, Western Winter, as where would we be without Mr Prospector in this country? All of these sires, bar Querari, have stallions or potential stallions at this stage, which augurs well for our industry.”

He adds that now that Jet Master is becoming such a great broodmare sire, he feels either Gimmethegreenlight or Captain Al will sire the champion of the future.

On racing’s future and survival strategies, the Accountant says there are no straightforward answers but is pleased at the news of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s announcement last week to support our breeding industry.

“In all businesses, one has to maintain existing business as well as create new. And we really have to go all out to keep those already in racing and breeding, who have the passion. This includes even the small punter and owner, as well. We also have to also rid the game of disparities, as well as finding a friendlier and fairer MR system than what we have today!”

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