THE one thing about flamboyant racehorse owner and businessman, Gerald Sadleir, is that no-one can accuse him of lacking in confidence. So it’s no surprise that – despite being a 66-1 shot in ante-post betting – he gives his mare, Camphoratus, “a chance of a top six finish” in Saturday’s Gauteng Chris Gerber Bidvest Summer Cup, writes DAVID MOLLETT.
It is back to the scene of the five year-old’s greatest triumph for – in April – the daughter of Byword shocked most pundits by winning the Gr 1 Empress Club Stakes at exactly those odds.
Despite having two Equus “Journo-of-the-Year” trophies in my lounge, I’m not certain of the right adjective to describe Chartwell resident, Gerald. I settled on flamboyant, but he could equally be described as exuberant, self-assured, charismatic or outgoing.
What I do know is that he could sell ice-cream in Alaska. It took him less than 30 minutes to sign up for a new medical aid for my daughter and myself from his company, Sadleir & Associates. He describes the business as “financial advisors specialising in medical aid schemes and life insurance.”
Formerly with Liberty Life, Gerald founded Sadleir & Associates in 1991 and he has built a thriving business at his offices in Broadacres Shopping Centre.
However, it’s racing that is Gerald’s passion and he currently has horses with five trainers – Roy Magner, Robbie and Shannon Hill, Dennis Drier, Alec Laird and Corrie Lensley.
Of this quintet, Cotswold-born (in Avening not far from Cheltenham), Gerald makes no secret of his admiration for Roy Magner. “I’ve known him since living in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1978. He’s always been the same – absolutely honest, loyal, hard-working and has a sense of humour. Also, he’s very fair in his pricing and does a lot of the vet work himself.”
Close friends of Gerald know he likes nothing better than a good party and that’s exactly what he has planned for Turffontein on Saturday. “The whole family is going to cheer on Camphoratus – wife Shirley, sons Nicholas and James and daughter Emma.”
Gerald met Shirley in 1978 and married her in Swaziland – where he was working – four years later.
“I make that 37 years married to you Gerald – maybe she’ll get a medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours,” I quipped.
“You’ve got that right – marvellous lady. But she has to work too – anything bred by me goes to Shirley for pre-training and then – probably six months later – on to Roy.”
Back to Camphoratus which is the Latin word for a wild Camphor tree. “Really it’s a rag to riches story and much of the credit goes to breeder, Rob Pickering,” says Gerald.
“He phoned me and said Robbie Hill had bought a lovely Byword filly from him for 50 grand and that he and I should take a leg each which we did.”
“Byword has lots to recommend him – he won the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Ascot and was a top horse in France. I liked her on pedigree, but never dreamt she would win a Gr 1.”
The mare’s Empress Club success was no flash in the pan as she proceeded to run sixth in the Durban July finishing just two and a half lengths behind Do It Again. I suggested that – despite going on to finish second behind Running Brave in the Gr 2 Gold Bracelet – her July effort rates one of her best runs.
Odds of 66-1 are again on offer about Camphoratus on Saturday. “OK I pulled a shocking draw for her, but she’s very honest and hardly ever runs a bad race. I believe she’s quite well handicapped and I’m hoping for a top six finish.”
Gerald loves nothing more than a tilt at the bookies and I’m sure one of our enterprising layers will lay him a bet to finish in the first six.
If that does happen – and the website gallop.co.za predicts the mare to run second to Soqrat – the Elevation Room at the city track could be a noisy place.
At several of Gerald’s lunches that I’ve been lucky enough to attend, it usually ends with a guy at a nearby table standing up and shouting “For God’s sake can you quieten down – they’ll be able to hear you in Pretoria.”
That’s what you get with Gerald Randal Sadleir and his many friends wouldn’t have it any other way.