This year’s sale powered by Tattersalls brought the action closer to the Mother City’s heart but costs far more than last year’s one on a stud farm.
Dave Mollett (Business Day)
World-renowned auctioneer John O’Kelly is a regular on the rostrum at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale in January, but the Irishman had more on his plate in today’s 2023 renewal than in previous years.
Tattersalls in the UK, the company O’Kelly works for, was named as “powering” today’s sale at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. That means he will have had to put in extra work to attract European buyers.
The return to the Convention Centre — on the advice of Grant Knowles — was an interesting move. It was held on a Cape stud farm a year ago and this venue will not have come cheap. But it did bring the action a lot closer to the heart of the Mother City.
One thing is certain, O’Kelly will have done his homework before today’s sale. In a 2018 interview with Racing Post, he said that in preparing for a sale “you do your homework, look at the horse, and talk to the consignor. He or she has put in three years hard work, and you’ve got just two minutes to sell it.”
The home side did their bit to attract buyers with the introduction of the R1m Cape Racing Sales Slipper, a race for graduates of the sale to be run on Met day each year.
Cape Racing executive Justin Vermaak told the Sporting Post: “We are trying to build this sale into a premier platform for forward type of horses, and putting on an early juvenile race for the graduates will hopefully help attract horses of this type to the auction each year.”
Yearling sales are notorious for making big headlines. Here are some of them.
Seattle Dancer: In 1985 Coolmore’s John Magnier and Robert Sangster (who became quite involved in SA racing) bid $13.1m for a son of Nijinsky at Keeneland.
Greek Monkey: Coolmore were also the buyers of this two-year-old named after a golf course in Barbados. The colt cost $16m.
Snaafi Dancer: Here’s proof that big money doesn’t guarantee a top horse as Sheik Mohammed went to $10.2m to secure the colt, who proved a flop on the racecourse and at stud.
Most of the leading studs were represented at today’s sale and — with racing in the province on a better footing than 12 months ago — vendors will have approached the event in buoyant mood.
Cape Racing Sales’ Grant Knowles didn’t name the yearling he expected to top the sale, but Dave Mollett predicted the Winterbach Stud’s Master Caspar (lot 56) as one who was going to get the catalogues waving in the direction of O’Kelly and Andrew Miller. (Dave’s prediction was accurate as the colt was knocked down to Justin Vermaak for R900,000).
Master Caspar is a half-brother (by Querari) to Computaform Sprint winner Master Archie.