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James Thomas reports from Cape Thoroughbred Sales’ flagship auction

“If South Africa can get the quarantine situation sorted this sale will take off – and I think it’s very important that happens”

Time is running out for buyers to secure yearlings from the final crop of South African champion sire Captain Al, and that caused fevered demand for his progeny at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Trade was headed by a daughter of Captain Al and the Fort Wood mare Pagan Princess who fetched R4 million (£221,530/€254,085). While the filly’s pedigree is unmistakably South African, it was two European buyers who battled it out, with Anthony Stroud seeing off a determined Peter Doyle with a seven-figure bid that equalled last year’s high price.

“She’s a lovely filly and I think she’ll be trained by Justin Snaith,” said Stroud, who was bidding from a table shared with Bjorn Nielsen, owner of Stradivarius, and Investec chief executive Bernard Kantor.

“She was bought for an old client of mine who’s down here on holiday and has a connection to South Africa, so he wanted to have a go.”

The filly, consigned by Klawervlei Stud, is a sister to William Longsword, who landed the Group 1 Kenilworth Cape Guineas before taking up covering duty at Klawervlei.

“It’s nice to come here and be involved as they do a great job,” added Stroud, a regular visitor to Cape Thoroughbred Sales’ flagship event, which is now in its eighth year. “If South Africa can get the quarantine situation sorted this sale will take off – and I think it’s very important that happens.”

Stroud entered the fray again later in the session when securing a Var colt offered by Maine Chance Farms for R2m.

Another European agent to part with a seven-figure sum for a member of Captain Al’s final crop was Amanda Skiffington, who secured a colt offered by Ridgemont Highlands for R2.2m (£121,530/€139,570) on behalf of Fiona Carmichael.

The August-born yearling is the second foal out of Exotic, a daughter of Galileo who landed a Galway maiden for Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore partners in 2013.

“We’ve been able to buy Fiona’s first, second and third choices and it’s not often you get to buy like that,” said Skiffington. “The Captain Al was always going to be expensive because there aren’t any more by the sire, but he’s a beautiful horse. I’ve never actually bought a Captain Al before.”

Captain Al may be a stallion of global renown, but the sire responsible for Skiffington’s second seven-figure purchase was altogether less familiar. The colt in question is from the debut crop of Global View, a son of Galileo who stands at Ascot Stud and who found a fan in Skiffington after she outlasted Peter Doyle at R1.3m for the Klawervlei Stud-consigned youngster.

“I’d never heard of Global View,” said Skiffington. “But this is such a beautiful colt. I actually went to Klawervlei last week and saw him then and loved him. I knew Fiona would like him too as he’s exactly her type of horse, flashy with loads of presence. If I think they’re correct enough and they have those other attributes she’ll generally have a go.”

The colt is out of the Tiger Ridge mare Freddy’s Sister, who counts dual Group 3 winner Bulsara and the Listed-placed Gay Fortuna, better known as the dam of champion Marinaresco, among her siblings.

Grade 2 American Turf Stakes winner Global View, who covers at a fee of R20,000 (£1,100/€1,270), is out of the Storm Cat mare Egyptian Queen, while his further family also includes Storm Bird and Green Tune.

Jonsson does it again
Nicholas Jonsson, co-owner of Sun Met favourite Do It Again, was in town ahead of Saturday’s Group 1 prize and added to his string when stretching to R3.2m for a Duke Of Marmalade filly offered by Drakenstein Stud.

The filly is the first foal out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Song Of Happiness, who in turn is out of the Group 1-winning Captain Al mare Captain’s Lover.

“She has a lovely pedigree and walks like a dream, she really is quite special and comes from a fantastic farm that breeds great horses,” said Jonsson. “She cost more than I expected but she’s lovely and the value you put on them upfront is only your imagination. It’s inevitable that Duke Of Marmalade will get a good horse in South Africa.”

Duke Of Marmalade joined the roster at Gaynor Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud in 2014 after five seasons at Coolmore, from where he sired the likes of Big Orange, Simple Verse and Venus De Milo.

Jonsson has enjoyed some notable results with the progeny of imported sires, as Do It Again – whose last two runs have culminated with victory in two of South Africa’s most prestigious races, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Durban July – is by former Juddmonte colour-bearer Twice Over.

Despite Do It Again boasting rock solid claims of landing his third straight Group 1 on Saturday, Jonsson said he wasn’t feeling the weight of expectation.

“I think the trainer has the nerves, not me!” he quipped. “I’m just enjoying the ride and constantly reminding myself that horses are flesh and blood and don’t always run according to form. I’m a huge Twice Over fan and it was inevitable that he’d get a good one as he was a wonderful racehorse himself.”

Malherbe on Form
Jehan Malherbe of Form Bloodstock was also among those to strike for a seven-figure lot as he parted with R2m for a Var filly out of Group 1 winner River Jetez.

The August-born foal, who was offered by Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm, is also a sister to the Group 3-winning Rivarine.

“She’s a sister to a top horse, her dam was a champion, she’s a stunning looker so I think you can say she ticked all the boxes,” said Malherbe. “She’ll go into training with Dean Kannemeyer.”

When asked for his summary on the state of trade, Malherbe said: “There’s big money for the good horses – special horses will always bring special money.”

Doyle dips in
Having filled the role of underbidder on a number of notable occasions, Cape Town regular Peter Doyle belatedly got his name on the buyers’ sheet when bagging a R1.2m Futura colt signed for in conjunction with Diane Nagle of Barronstown Stud.

“He’s a very nice colt who’ll be trained by Justin Snaith,” Doyle said of the Ridgemont Highlands-consigned colt. “He’s a lovely moving horse and comes from a very good stud, who actually own Barnane Stud in Ireland as well. I was the underbidder on Futura as a yearling when he sold up in Jo’burg a few years back.”

The colt is the second foal out of the Listed-winning Commands mare Nona In Command, whose pedigree traces back to South African Group 1 performers Laisserfaire, Zodiac Ruler and Lone Rock.

“It’s been a good sale, we’ve been outbid on a couple so we haven’t found it easy but we’ll keep trying,” added Doyle, who said he would be staying in Cape Town to watch Kasimir, a son of Captain Al he owns a share of, line up in the Group 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship at Kenilworth on Saturday.

Badger’s Frankel fancy
This year’s Cape Premier Sale catalogue featured two lots by Frankel, including a filly out of the Dark Angel mare Lost In Love who went the way of Grant Pritchard-Gordon for R1m.

Pritchard-Gordon, who operates under the Badgers Bloodstock banner, was already well acquainted with the Frankel filly, having formed part of the Cape Thoroughbred Sales selection team who compiled the catalogue.

“I’ve been involved in the selection process so it’s been really interesting to come to the sale and see how these horses have progressed with a few more months on their backs,” he said. “It was fascinating going around the farms and seeing the countryside where these horses are bred and meeting the breeders. Some of the staff here are really good too, they do a great job.”

Of the Frankel filly, who was offered by Klawervlei Stud, Pritchard-Gordon added: “She’s changed quite a lot since I first saw her, I didn’t actually give her a very high mark in September but she’s really strengthened up and started moving well. She’ll stay here in Cape Town but we haven’t confirmed who’ll train her yet.”

The filly’s second dam is the Listed-winning Cover Girl, whose progeny record also includes the Listed scorers Mister Manannan and Shermeen – the dam of Phoenix Stakes winner Sudirman.

The other Frankel, a colt from the family of Harzand, was knocked down to John Freeman for R400,000.

Final figures
The single-session sale concluded with turnover of R83.135m (£4,604,620/€5,287,380), a 25 per cent drop on the figure recorded at last year’s sale.

The average was down by 14 per cent to R432,995 (£23,990/€27,545), while the median remained static at R300,000 (£16,615/€19,085). A total of 17 lots fetched a seven-figure sum, down from 28 in 2018.

Of the 217 offered yearlings, 192 sold for a clearance rate of 88 per cent.

Despite the declines shown by key market metrics – returns not helped by the absence of notable buyers like the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Shadwell, both of whom were active 12 months ago – Cape Thoroughbred Sales’ chief executive Wehann Smith felt there was still plenty of positives to take from the sale.

“There was such a positive vibe before the sale that perhaps we got our expectations slightly high,” he said.

“Overall though I think it’s still been a good sale as we’re under tough economic coniditions at the moment. There were some real stand-out horses who made good money and a really diverse buying bench and a lot of international buyers, which is also a positive.

“It’s always been the dream for this sale to showcase South African breeding to the world and I think we’re on the right track with that.”