Mailbag: Master of the Game

in reply to 'Poster Boy with the Painted Face'

Being able to claim association with Gr 1 winners is something everyone in racing strives to achieve. Being publically honoured by the owner of a Met winner as the agent that bought the horse is truly an honour. We thank Hassen Adams for his gracious acknowledgment and wish him every success in future with Past Master.

Readers of my eNews must be perplexed to read Robin Louw’s coverage of the Met entitled “Poster Boy with the Painted Face”. I admire Robin’s reporting and have corresponded to inform her that she has been sadly misinformed. Dean Kannemeyer and I viewed Past Master at the 2008 National Yearling Sales, more than once, and put him on the buying list. We’d both had past association with the family and decided that he’d be a good “spec-buy” at the right price. He was lot 62 in the green pages and as a son of the mighty Jet Master he was a very good buy at R375 000. We didn’t have a buyer but in the scheme of things this was never a problem – we’d only just started buying anyway and were sure to find clients later, as we always did.

Robin’s coverage quotes Dean as having incorrectly stated: “Despite not having a buyer, the funds or even a buyers card, Dean was so impressed with the colt that he persuaded John Freeman to sign for him”. Let me set the record straight:- firstly Dean did have a buyers card and actually is on record at that very sale as 8th leading buyer by average (R650 000). Secondly as an experienced yearling selector and buyer I do not act as a clearing house for other peoples selections. I don’t put myself on the line at any sale by “signing ” for a horse that I would not buy myself. The moment you sign for any purchase you are the principal buyer and carry the risks associated with ownership. You must really like the horse you are buying and be prepared to pay if you don’t find a buyer. In the past I have kept pieces of horses that I bought “on spec”. I have always operated on the basis that I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. If I like a horse and don’t have a buyer we buy it and try and put it together later. If I get left holding a share – that’s part of the job.

Hassen Adams bought the horse within days of him being sold and even before the horse left the sales ring and he paid for the horse and our commission promptly. Not as Robin puts it when she says “while he was stretching his legs out on the spelling farm, Dean went to work to find a buyer…” Hassen knows how he got the horse and has been gracious in his acknowledgement of our input.

In my experience it’s not unusual for wining connections in the excitement of the moment to forget to thank someone connected with their success, be it the breeder, the jockey, the trainer, assistant, groom, agent, the spelling farm or even his co-owners. Buying the right horses and getting them into the winners box requires a good team,  in the cold light of day owners know who helped them get there but as the ones who pay the bills it is their right to pay tribute and frankly if in the excitement of the moment they forget – it’s not important. What is important that the team acknowledge each other.

John Freeman

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