Skip to main content

A year ago — after the Markus Jooste saga hit the headlines — one report hit the nail on the head for racing and bloodstock sales. “The whole industry is quaking in their boots; the actions of one man could affect everyone.”

This viewpoint was particularly relevant to vendors with yearlings entered on the Cape Premier Yearling Sale in mid-January. They will have raised their glasses at New Year with considerable trepidation.

Fin24 reported Jooste’s “outsized role” in the industry was likely to cause a sharp decline in horse sale prices. It did concede he had been “a massive contributor for many years”.

The champagne corks had been popping after the 2017 Cape Premier Sale, with an average of R699,212 — up nearly 17% on 2016.

Some expressed the opinion that the prices had been inflated to make CTS the biggest sale company in the country. This, in turn, would attract more overseas buyers.

The outcome of the 2018 sale — at the time as hard to predict as today’s oil price — sent a wave of relief throughout all sections of the industry.

Overseas buyers such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club — mainly because of its ongoing spat with Australia — American Barry Irwin, Amanda Skiffington and Angus Gold all made their way to the Mother City.

Few, particularly those who had predicted a bloodbath, were left gobsmacked when the average of R500,000 was declared. Many nervous investors sighed with relief.

In fact, given the troubles of the economy, the thoroughbred industry has emerged pretty much unscathed over the past 12 months. After the 2017 Cape Premier Sale, the prophets of doom were sounding the death knell for SA’s long-standing auction, the National Yearling Sales held in Germiston in April.

However, the 2018 National Sale bettered estimates with an average of R362,000 and top price of R5.2m. The only unhappiness for Bloodstock SA will have been that 139 of the 526 lots catalogued were either withdrawn or not sold.

The 2019 Cape Premier Sale is scheduled for January 23 and a quick glance at the catalogue is sufficient to realise why CTS CEO Wehann Smith is upbeat.

“We expect an intense, competitive day jampacked with bidding action, which makes for happy clients,” he said.

The overseas visitors — sure to include the Hong Kong Jockey Club once again as the ties with SA have strengthened — will be impressed that the 226-lot catalogue includes four yearlings by Epsom Derby winner Camelot, two by superstar Frankel and two by Uncle Mo and Zoffany.

And what better way to kick off proceedings at the Cape Town International Convention Centre than a full-sister to Sean Tarry’s multiple grade 1 winner Legal Eagle.

It was an unlikely scenario a year ago, but the odds are that Smith will be smiling from ear to ear when the hammer comes down on the final lot. -David Mollett, Business Day.