Tribute To The “Master”

The progeny of leading sire Jet Master figured to be in special demand following his death in November, and so it proved during Friday’s second and final session of the Cape Premier Yearling Sale, reports Thoroughbred Daily News.

Three of them broke through the R2-million barrier, led by lot 225, who sold for R2.8 million to trainer Mike Bass on behalf of Marsh Shirtliff and partners. Not long before that, Shirtliff and Bass struck for R2.3 million for lot 209, another son of Jet Master. Shirtliff, who founded the vehicle maintenance and warranty company Motorite in 1984, has had tremendous success with his racehorses. In addition to being co-owner of globe-trotting star Jay Peg, Shirtliff also campaigned the popular Pocket Power  with Arthur and Rina Webber, and was also partners in that champion’s accomplished full-sister River Jetez. With both of those standouts being offspring of Jet Master, Shirtliff was keen to secure the best possible yearlings by the late stallion. “We had Pocket Power and River Jetez, and it always seems that when a stallion dies, his runners start performing even better,” Shirtliff noted. “But he was a great sire from day one. I think especially that the fillies will be at a premium. We’d seen them during visits to the farm, and really wanted these.”

Marsh Shirliff - the owner's owner

The sale topper was lot 225, a bay colt consigned by Highlands Farm Stud. He is the second foal from stakes winner Our Table Mountain (Fusaichi Pegasus), a daughter of multiple Grade I winner Hidden Light (Majestic Light), making her a half-sister to GI Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Artie Schiller (El Prado {Ire}).  His future stablemate was offered by Drakenstein Stud. Lot 209 is out of Mountains of Mist (Ire) (Shirley Heights {GB}), whose Grade III-winning daughter Madeira Mist (Ire) (Grand Lodge) is the dam of Grade I winner Joshua Tree (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}).
“They are in partnership,” Shirtliff confirmed. “[225] will be with Markus Jooste and Bryn Ressell, and the Drakenstein colt, Gaynor Rupert will stay in for a quarter share.”
Shirtliff indicated that having a boutique auction in Cape Town itself was well done.
“I think it’s an absolutely amazing sale,” he said. “It’s very customer friendly, and you can watch racing. It’s very nice for the horses. They’re in a small area here, and it’s very accessible. I think we’ve shown we can produce a world-class horse, and it would be nice to see them go to overseas buyers. There is the problem with the protocols, but someday I hope we can get past that.”
The affable owner was seated with Bass, who had conditioned Pocket Power to four victories in the G1 J&B Met S. and three G1 Queen’s Plate titles. Bass acknowledged that the final prices weren’t unexpected.
“Well, obviously, I’d have preferred they be cheaper,” he quipped. “Lucky for me, my buyers were strong.” Bass indicated that the unifying characteristic among the Jet Master runners was class.
“They really come in all shapes and sizes,” he said. “He could get you a cracking sprinter, a stayer, or a Classic-distance horse. I think these two colts are Classic types. I’m always trying to buy a good horse. He’s only got one more crop to come, and I think we got the two best-bred ones.”
Jet Master was also responsible for the sale’s top-priced filly, who sold for R2.2 million to bloodstock agent John Freeman early during Friday’s session.
Offered as lot 169 by Klawervlei Stud, the bay is a half-sister to Jay Peg, and is a full-sibling to last year’s sale topper.

Get to the Point…

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Terry Finley wound up signing for a pair of youngsters over the course of the two days. Having picked up lot 120, a Jay Peg colt from Normandy Stud, for R300,00 Thursday night in partnership with Kip Elser, Finley successfully bid R600,000 for lot 260, a Var colt consigned by Klipdrif Stud.
“Kip called me after the holidays and said he’d been coming here for a few years, and suggested I make the trip,” Finley explained. “We’ve been to sales in Dubai, Ireland and Hong Kong, and I may be going to Argentina in April. It’s always good to meet people from around the world.”
Thursday’s purchase will be offered to West Point’s investors, but the Var colt already has a deal in place. Both will join the yard of trainer Dean Kannermeyer.
“We’ll syndicate the Jay Peg,” Finley confirmed. The Var, we were seated at the table with Peter Doyle, and I’d met his brother before. So we decided to be partners in this colt.”
Finley applauded the sales company’s efforts.
“There’s a lot of energy here; they’re really thinking out of the box,” he said. “In meeting everyone here, you realize that they really want to be players, on the international scale, and important people in the industry and agents are starting to take notice.”
Finley described his purchases as “good-boned, athletic, and vetted well.” He added, “They’re similar to the type of horses we buy at home. The yearlings aren’t really as prepped as you might be used to, but you have to remember, these horses are bred to run.
Obviously, the purses aren’t as strong here, and labour isn’t as big a factor as at home. We try not to be too aggressive with our horses, and we’re really looking for soundness.”

Numbers Game…

At the end of Friday’s trade, Cape Thoroughbred Sales CEO Robin Bruss was satisfied with the result. “It mirrored those brought at last year’s sale,” he said. “One positive aspect has been the number of new buyers from overseas. I’m also thrilled to see the ownership syndicates showing an interest, with West Point and a pinhooker like Kip Elser. They see horses as value for money and can perceive them as being on an upward cycle.”
Over the course of the two-day sale, 238 yearlings sold from 294 head offered. The gross was R106,845,000. The average was R403,151 and the median was R300,000.
In the wake of Black Caviar’s victory ahead of Friday’s session, Bruss laid down an interesting gauntlet.
“In Val de Ra (Var), I think we have the fastest female sprinter in the world,” he stated. “Val de Ra has won 11 of 12 starts, and beaten the best males around. Last week, she won the G1 Cape Flying Championship, defeating J J the Jet Plane by five lengths. ‘JJ’ won the G1 Hong Kong Sprint and the Group 2 in Dubai on World Cup night, and is ranked as the fastest male sprinter in the world.
“I think it would be an astounding race between her and Black Caviar. But the only way for that to happen is to put a stop to those who put barriers on South African horses, and to let the horses prove it on the racetrack.”

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