THEY have some strange racing rules in Mauritius, a few arguably dilly stipes, a supporting band of keystone cops and reportedly some hostile trainers. Multiple champion Piere Strydom just got a 50k fine and a one-way flight out for “failing to ride to the satisfaction of the Stewards”. Hello?
But the Mauritian people love their racing, course attendance is good and the betting turnovers too, there and in South Africa. Moreover Mauritius has become increasingly important as a sales market for South African horses.
The two bloodstock consultants most active in the Mauritian market are Grant Knowles via his Central Route Trading Company and Justin Vermaak of Green Street Bloodstock. Michel Nairac normally takes care of the logistics, and Nairac confirmed today that between 120 – 140 thoroughbreds make their way to the island from South Africa in a year.
Knowles commented: “Mauritius has become an integral part of the South African racing industry. A steady stream of South African runners get a second chance on the island, some who were just below the best here, become champions there.
Knowles facilitates between 30 and 40 deals per year and his clients include Ricky Maingard, Gilbert Rousett and Vishal Ramanah. Knowles recently sold the top-level performer White River to a Mauritian interest, other notables include Parachute Man, Kayden’s Pride, Nebula, Drill Hall winner Perovskia, Pera Palace, Rule The Night and Alyasaat.
Vermaak said: “In these times, while the export protocols are being sorted, there is no export market. Stakes are not rising, there is no resale market but Mauritius. The fact that it has become a big market for resale has kept many local owners in the game, and they re-invest at our local sales. Money is coming back into their pockets. Mauritius is a big racing jurisdiction now.
Vermaak has sold 19 horses to the island in the last two months, including the speed merchant Palace Chapel, third to Kasimir in the recent Gr1 Mercury Sprint and Made To Conquer, second in the 2018 Durban July and third in the 2019 e-Lan Gold Cup.
He said: “Green Street also bought six two-year-olds for Mauritian clients at last week’s two-year-old sale. They will race them here before deciding which ones to ship across. There are a further 10 two-year-olds waiting to run so we can decide on their future careers.
“So as you can see apart from importing our horses, the Mauritians like to race here too and that is so important for the sport, it keeps the ball rolling, with much interest on both sides. Just look at the top runners we’ve exported in recent years.
“We’re talking about Graded winners like Table Bay, Barrack Street, White River and Seventh Plain, very good others like Ernie, Baritone, Hard Day’s Night. It’s good for the quality of racing in Mauritius, punters love to see good horses, champions.
“It would be a good idea for the Mauritian authorities to push for their blue-book status to be improved. They have stronger races than places like Zimbabwe and only a few black-type races. An upgrade in Mauritius will be an additional boost for SA horses and their pedigrees.”
Vermaak’s Mauritian clients include Paul Foo Kune, who races with Patrick Merven. He bought a R500,000 Zoffany and a R250,000 Querari foal at the Cape Premier Sale earlier this year, a 100k Querari at the National Sale and a colt by Gimmethegreenlight, bought in partnership with Gavin Glover, another Mauritian resident. Paul also bought Palace Chapel.
“The stable of Ramapatee Gujadhur bought all of Master Jay, Justinian and De La Cruz (along with Made To Conquer), and Vince Allet bought Cool At Heart, who has won five races there this season and is the best horse in Mauritius barring White River.”