The superb blend of winning wines and fast horses continues to lift the Avontuur brand to new heights. And Saturday turned into yet another memorable day for the Taberer family and their General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh, after their stallion sensation Var registered four grand winners.
It was a day dominated by Var. Besides siring the winner of the Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge in South Africa’s champion miler Variety Club, the Forest Wildcat stallion also produced two debut winners amongst his other three strikes.
The Var Syndicate also sponsored the Durban Dash, a non-black type race run as a leg of the fast-growing Var Speed Series. This race was won by Jeff Freedman’s Mogok gelding Guantanamera, who blew most Pick Six dreams down the river at 25-1.
Pippa, who returned from a well earned European holiday on Thursday last week, was on duty on the beautiful farm the entire past weekend and said that she was totally ‘blown away’ by the performances of ‘our boy’ on Saturday: “ Four winners, including two juvenile debutants both off Avontuur and then Variety Club showing his true class under what was a masterful ride by Anton Marcus!”
Dennis Drier and Joey Ramsden trained the Var first-timers Schiffer and Vauclair to win at Clairwood and Kenilworth respectively, while Riaan Van Reenen sent out Effective Power to record his second win from eleven starts in the MR80 Handicap over 1000m in the Cape.
An emotional Pippa said that she could not have dreamt for more and could not help being sentimental : “ We only have one life, this is our passion and the reason we wake up before sparrow, so let’s enjoy it. This stallion, who is more human than horse, has changed so many people’s lives with his achievements. That includes Avontuur, the breeding and racing industry at large and mine. And to add to it he is such a nice horse too. It is so easy to shower him with love, carrots, Woolies apples and his all- time favourite, polo mints!”
Reflecting back on the last 22 years of her life on Avontuur, Pippa said that the loyal support that she had enjoyed from some ‘wonderful people’ was truly remarkable.
“ The well-wishers have been unbelievable. They are all so genuinely happy for our success. Other trainers have congratulated me on Variety Club’s win! Hells bells, I only stand his sire. Sometimes life really dishes up wonderful surprises!” she said with a lilt in her voice.
Pippa confirmed that Var had a hectic few months ahead of him with 120 ladies coming his way and that she had him gyming to get him into trim for the arduous task that lay ahead.
On the wine front, Pippa said that things were also going well with April and May producing a slew of awards. The Dominion Royale Shiraz Reserve 2009 won a SA Wine Top 100 Medal as well as a Silver at the Old Mutual Trophy show. The first international award for the year was achieved by the Avontuur Cabernet Franc 2009.
“ It made us and the country proud by winning a Bronze at one of the world’s biggest international wine competitions, the Decanter Awards,in the UK. What made this even more special is that wineries from all over the world participated in this competition and this year we saw nearly 15 000 wines entered. For us to perform this well in a category which is so dominated by the great red wines from Bordeaux in France, is a wonderful reward for hard work and the fantastic terroir for this varietal in the Helderberg,” said winemaker Jan van Rooyen.
Van Rooyen added that this same wine also did very well in the Trophy Show, coming home with a Silver there. He also said that the newly released Luna de Miel Chardonnay Reserve 2010, was awarded a Bronze medal at Trophy show too!