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COMING up this weekend, on 18 and 19 March at Durbanville,  is the March Yearling Sale, put together by Cape Thoroughbred Sales. In just a couple of years, this auction has built a reputation for offering exceptional value to alert buyers. It was at this very same occasion a few years back that a bay son of Trippi, Illuminator was especially well bought for just R180 000, before going on to land the inaugural Million Dollar incentive race, bringing in a cool R8.5 million to fortunate owners.

Ian Robinson was part of that merry band of connections, and he has done his usual preparatory analysis going in to this year’s Sale, “I marked down five already – let’s hope nobody else notices them,” he added, tongue in cheek.

Buying yearlings has been described as akin to opening lucky packets – you never really know what you’re going to get. Yet there are ways to boost the probability of making an inspired choice. Pedigree boffins and those with a good eye for an athletic specimen prefer to hone in on sales with a proven record of producing good performers.

The March Yearling Sale has yielded multiple Grade 1 winners. Guiness, Kochka, Lauderdale and Seventh Plain all won at the highest level. Siren’s Call came within a snout of landing the Triple Tiara and was a seriously talented filly adept at middle distances.

Her champion trainer Sean Tarry has bought astutely at this sale. He also snaffled narrow Fillies Guineas and Paddock Stakes second, Safe Harbour here, by the same stallion, Elusive Fort. Earlier in the Summer, she won the lucrative Lanzerac Ready To Run Stakes helping this R180 000 buy to already amass earnings of around R2 million from 11 starts.

Another canny acquisition was Trophy Wife who achieved multiple places at the top level with a late rallying style from off the pace. Mister Cricket, Masked Lady and Melliflora are others from this March sale, formerly known as Book Two, to manage Grade 1 placings.

CTS continue to make a significant impact on the program through big money incentive races, increasing the stakes pot to levels that are without precedent in contemporary South African racing. Owners are not just after flesh and blood thoroughbreds when bidding, they are also buying a dream. And races like the CTS Sprint and Mile, staged for hefty stakes, certainly make it a dream worth pursuing.

A third of the field for this year’s Mile, were sourced at CTS’s March Sale – a significant stat. And a number of the Sprint entries also came from the same auction, confirming it as a proven source of upper echelon performers at reasonable prices. Lurking amongst the 256 catalogued lots could be the next wonder-horse. All March Yearling Sale graduates are candidates for the CTS Million,  comprising two races; the CTS Sprint over 1200m and the CTS Mile over 1600m . Both carry a stake of  R5-million and will be staged in Cape Town during January 2019.

Photo by Wayne Marks