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International bloodstock consultant, Grant Pritchard-Gordon, arrived in Cape Town from his home base at Newmarket, UK, on Sunday. Grant will be assisting John Kramer and Kerry Jack with yearling selections for the 2019 CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sale.

A veteran of over 40 years in racing and breeding, Grant qualified as a Chartered Surveyor, but quickly moved back to his passion for racing and joined Keith Freeman Bloodstock agency in 1975.

Freeman, named as his mentor, was responsible in South Africa for the sale and export of the great Colorado King and the import of stallions like Jungle Cove and Imperial March. Grant obtained a strong grounding in pedigrees and conformation.

In 1982, Grant was approached by Prince Khalid Abdullah to join his Juddmonte Farms, where he became Racing Manager for 17 years. During this time, he managed the careers of more than 2000 horses and oversaw 75 Group 1/Grade 1 successes in the famous Abdullah colours.

His close involvement with the race programmes of colts such as Dancing Brave, Rainbow Quest, Zafonic, Warning, Danehill and Quest for Fame instilled the need for detailed planning to ensure maximum value for a subsequent stallion career.

His close involvement with the fillies that retired to the paddocks has given him a rare insight into the differing characters, conformation and qualities of a broodmare band that is now the leading breeding operation in the world. Fillies such as Slightly Dangerous, Seven Springs, Toussaud, Ryafan,  Bahamian, Interval, Ballinderry and Razyana all passed through his hands before becoming outstanding matrons at stud.

Grant was responsible for all public and private sales from the Juddmonte Racing stable. He also worked closely with the stud team on matings and appraisals of young stock.

Grant stepped down from his Juddmonte employment in 1999. Following a short period away from the Bloodstock Industry, Grant returned to set up Badgers Bloodstock Consultants in 2002.

Grant is a Director of both The Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Federation of Bloodstock Agent and currently works alongside his sons Tom and Sam. Grant’s premier client is the Jockey Club of Hong Kong, for which he buys up to 25 horses per year, ensuring that quality stock enters the Hong Kong racing industry every year. “We bought at CTS for Hong Kong last year and we’ll be back for more next year. The Hong Kong authorities are very positive towards the SA industry,” he said. There were some negative thoughts and comments from the UK following the EFF’s shenanigans at Randjesfontein recently but Grant said that the overall impression of our industry is still fine. “All countries have their problems. The South African thoroughbred is still held in high regard. A horse that is better than his peers in South Africa can compete around the world,” he asserted.

He’s visited South Africa a dozen times, in professional and private capacities, but Grant is much looking forward to passing through new stud farms he hasn’t yet seen. “I know John Koster of Klawervlei and Carl de Vos of Varsfontein as friends from the area; and Badgers Bloodstock bought Oh Susanna’s dam for Drakenstein Stud, but there are plenty farms I haven’t been to yet. We’re starting
this week with three farms in Hermanus, including Hemel N Aarde.”

John Kramer and Kerry Jack use a point system for rating yearlings and Grant said he will be fitting in with their methods. “It’s normally just a tick or a cross for me when it comes to individual specimens, perhaps a few borderline horses which are discussed afterwards. My best impression of a young horse comes the moment it steps from the barn.”

What are the most important traits he looks for in a yearling? “In many years of doing this there are faults I can live with, and faults I can’t live with. The overall balance is important, pedigree and conformation. I also like to hear a horse walk a few metres behind me, just listening to how a horse walk gives me a sense of its balance. There is a specific sound for a balanced horse.

“There are also many familial traits in any stud book, my son Tom and I have notes on every lot at plenty of sales around the world and we can refer back to lots from years gone by to get family references on conformation and track performance. Here in South Africa we don’t have as much, but there are some families we are familiar with including Twice Over, a horse we know everything about.”

In his spare time, Grant has completed a book commissioned by Prince Khalid Abdullah himself. “It’s a history of the Juddmonte Operation and it’s a private work for the family so it won’t go on sale. I’ve spent the last three years writing it and my research produced many facts I hadn’t known even though I worked at Juddmonte for a long time. So it was a fascinating experience and we’re in the
process of editing the work now.

“Prince Khalid is a wonderful man. He has a smooth way of doing business and he employs 39,000 people in Saudi-Arabia alone. I am pleased to count him as a friend after all these years.”