ONE has to outlay a fortune to acquire a Stakes winner, right? Wrong. Not if the results of the weekend’s Turffontein meeting are anything to go by, writes ADA VAN DER BENT.
Four of the seven Graded Stakes contested on Derby day went the way of runners purchased at auction for a combined total of R155,000. With the National Yearling Sale fast approaching, prospective buyers can take heart, that’s less than half the average price of R362,649 attained at last year’s sale.
The first of the day’s juvenile events, the Gr.3 Pretty Polly Stakes, saw trainer Romeo Francis upstage the bigger yards when his ‘cheapie’ Palace Of Dreams snuck in under the radar to lose her maiden tag with a sweeping run, defeating Mike de Kock’s favourite Gin Fizz by a half length. From the second crop of promising young stallion Potala Palace, she was nabbed by Francis for the bargain basement price of R15,000 at last year’s 2YO Sale from breeders Highlands Stud.
Paul Matchett’s unheralded Twilight Moon, who shared the spoils with De Kock’s Frosted Gold in the Storm Bird Stakes, proved that was no fluke when he outgunned his rival by just over a length in the Gr.3 Protea Stakes. The first crop son of Wylie Hall is fast proving to be a dream horse for his owners the Wentzels. Plucked from the KZN Sales for a paltry R20,000, he has already returned that tenfold, this first Graded success pushing his stakes earnings past the R200,000 mark.
For the princely sum of R180,000, one could have purchased the first two past the post in the Gr.3 Man O’War Sprint. The winner Van Halen cost co-owner Fito Englezakis R100,000 at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale, a sum returned in a flash at two when the Oratorio gelding claimed the Gr.1 Gold Medallion. That now looks small change, considering Saturday’s Gr.3 victory pushed his earnings past R820,000. Runner-up and beaten just a neck, was the progressive Russian Prince, yet another promising Potala Palace offspring. Coming off a fine hat-trick, the Azzie-trained gelding cost owner Preggie Somasundram all of R80,000 as a two-year-old.
Prominent owner Chris van Niekerk no doubt blushed after his champion filly Return Flight added the Gr.2 SA Oaks to her Gr.1 SA Fillies Classic win. No stranger to spending big at the sales, he ‘stole’ the daughter of his July winner Pomodoro for just R20,000 from Highlands stud manager Mike Sharkey as a yearling. Last season’s champion juvenile filly, her cut of the Oaks purse boosted her earnings to over R1.9 million, in addition to which she now rates a live candidate for a second Equus award!
Van Niekerk’s faith in Pomodoro has seen him purchase a veritable stableful of his former champ’s progeny, a shrewd move, considering he races arguably the young stallion’s two best runners to date. From a purely financial angle, his purchase of Cirillo must be considered a stroke of genius. Snapped up for a mere R60,000 as a Ready to Run two-year-old, the Riverton-bred colt has turned into a moneyspinner par excellence, winning two multi-million sales races this season. On Saturday, his brave second in the Gr.1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut took his earnings past the R4,5-million mark.
Photo: Twilight Moon (20k buy), wins Protea Stakes. (JC Photos).