For years it has been a one-way street between Australia and South Africa when it came to buying thoroughbred yearlings. South African owners heading Down Under annually to snap up potential stars, yet Australian buyers stayed at home, citing impossible quarantine requirements and arduous long-distance travel.
That was until New Zealand-based bloodstock agent Ric Wylie created history at the CTS Premier Sale recently held in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, when purchasing two fillies specifically to race in Australia. The sales topping filly, the Trippi (USA) daughter of Champion Sprinter Val De Ra, was consigned as Lot 120 by Avontuur Stud. The outstanding filly was snapped up by Wylie, on behalf of an undisclosed Australian client. Wylie, who was part of the CTS Premier Yearling Sale inspection team, was so impressed with what he saw at Avontuur last September, that he was prepared to go to R1.65 million to secure the bay filly, named All That Jazz. He also purchased Lot 104, a Visionaire (USA) filly out of Strawberry Lane, consigned by Lammerskraal Stud, for R600,000.
“After the inspections last year, I was really impressed with some of the types – and that was without pedigrees. So I went to some of the top studs in Australia and New Zealand and said, I can buy the best-bred filly in South Africa for 20 cents in the dollar. One client was very interested, and they have got involved. Both of my buys come from great families, Group 1 families,” he said. “Lot 104, the Strawberry Lane filly, comes from a great Australian family too – her second dam is the Centaine mare Taineberry (AUS), that’s the family of one of my purchases a while ago in Galaxy Fair (AUS), also Barkada (AUS) and Best Western (AUS). You can’t access a filly with a page like that for that sort of price elsewhere.”
According to Wylie the two yearlings will go into quarantine shortly in order to travel to Australia. The fillies will spend three months in Mauritius, before heading to the UK for another six months of residency. “They will spend the summer in the UK. I have the nicest trainers in Lambourn. They’ll have a quiet English summer with the sun on their backs and they’ll be broken in up the Lambourn gallops. Then when they arrive in Australia, they will be ready to go into training with whichever trainer my client decides to put them with”, Wylie added.
The salestopper, Lot 99, an outstanding son of Champion sire Silvano (GER), was consigned by Drakenstein Stud. A spirited bidding war saw the price quickly slip over the R1 million barrier, with the colt out of the Giants Causeway(USA) mare Song Of Happiness eventually knocked down for R3 million to Nic Jonsson. Jonsson, part owner of the 2018 and 2019 Vodacom Durban July winner Do It again, explained that he had in fact bought the colt in partnership with Bjorn Nielsen, owner of the well-known star stayer Stradivarius (IRE). “He just ticked all the boxes, for me he was the buy of the sale”, said Jonsson. “He has a great conformation, an incredible walk and a beautiful temperament.” The colt, named I Want It All, will be trained by Justin Snaith.
International bloodstock agent Amanda Skiffington also acquired two of the top lots, when the hammer came down at R975,000 for Lot 51, a Silvano colt consigned by Maine Chance Farms and at R2.2 million for Lot 145 a Rafeef(AUS) colt consigned by Ridgemont Highlands Stud. EL Bloodstock was responsible for the second R2.2 million colt when the hammer fell in their favour for Lot 174, a Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) colt out of the Jet Master mare Cupid, consigned by Klawervlei Stud as agent.
Despite a significant drop in prices at what was considered a very tough sale, CTS CEO Wehann Smith pointed out that the Australian involvement, together with a number of new international buyers is exactly what was needed, especially with the likelihood that regular exports could resume later this year. “As an industry, I think it’s something that we in South Africa should be really excited about. It’s an arduous and costly trip at this point from South Africa to Australia, so to have the support of Ric and his clients is exciting”, he said. “I know the vision for the sale from the outset was that this would be the gateway from South Africa to the international market. In one sense, this sale was subsidised by the belief that one day, we’d get exports open again. Hopefully, this is another step in that direction and by the time we return here in 2021, there may be further confidence from the international market.”
By Liesl King
Image: The sales topping filly, the Trippi (USA) daughter of Champion Sprinter Val De Ra, was consigned as Lot 120 by Avontuur Stud. Picture: Liesl King