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On a lazy Sunday back in March, 2014, trainer Glen Puller found a young horse he’d really liked among the roughly 290 lots on offer at the CTS March Yearling Sale held at Durbanville.

Lot 220, Illuminator, a bay colt by Trippi from the Al Mufti mare, Pacific Lights, was “a bit backward”, but Puller kept returning to his stable in the Klawervlei Barn as this youngster was a lovely, well-conformed yearling he felt was worth bidding on.

“We’d identified two prospects, but Illuminator was the one that really caught my eye and we raised the bids on him, getting him for R180,000,” Puller said.

After Saturday’s Investec Day Of Dreams, the rest is history. Illuminator won the inaugural CTS Million Dollar contest, described by Sporting Post as “… what a race for anybody who feels that racing has become a rich man’s game, dominated by wealthy men in suits and big powerful yards with telephone number buying power!”

Winning owners Francis Carruthers and Ian Robinson banked a mammoth R8 392 500 for their 180k colt’s smashing win.

Puller spoke about his buying strategy: “I always work within my budget. Only a handful of trainers can bid on the boom yearlings, the best-bred flashy ones. So when going to a Sale I try to identify lots that may fall within my range. They may not always be as flashy or eye-catching at first, but there are some that speak to you. A number of years ago I bought Great Rhythm for R25,000 the same way, he was placed in the J&B Met and the Queen’s Plate.

“I look at everything from the horse’s breeder to the conformation to the pedigree and I go around the stables to look at them individually. Sometimes when you’re walking around the different barns something catches your eye too and you find one that may not have been on your shortlist.”

Puller will undoubtedly be attending the 2016 renewal of the Cape Yearling Sale, scheduled for 19 and 20 March at Durbanville and his advice to prospective buyers: “I’d say the first bit of advice is to be there, to make sure you attend the sale. Do your homework, get around, look properly and focus. There are excellent buys for buyers in every category!”