AVONTUUR Stud’s 15-year-old Danehilll stallion Oratorio (IRE) sired the first two past the post in last Saturday’s Gr1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion over 1200m at Scottsville and Avontuur’s General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh was absolutely elated, especially since the farm’s other resident sire, VAR, produced Sommerlied, another Gr1 winner on the festival sprint day at the Pietermaritzburg track.

Mickleburgh said: “It was humungous, a wonderful feeling for us on a special day. Unless anything dramatic happens, Oratorio will be South Africa’s leading sire of two-year-olds at the end of the season, with our stalwart VAR in second.

“This is not something I would’ve expected in my wildest dreams, because Oratorio is a classic sire, we didn’t expect so much sprinting success. It happened at the right time to make our SA Breeders sit up and take note of him again. Oratorio offspring have won Graded races from Sha-Tin to Lexington, but it’s no secret that breeders had gone ‘cold’ on him. It took the winners at Scottsville to bring the message home again!”

Mickleburgh is holding thumbs for as many bookings as possible, because last year Oratorio covered only 20 mares before he fell desperately ill with Laminitis, the relentless hoof disease that has claimed many a champion on and off the track.

“That Oratorio recovered from that was quite miraculous. I have no idea how he made it. He lost 110kg, he went from 650kg to 540kg when he was ill and he’s still lean and mean. We are keeping him at this weight. Laminitis has a number of causes and the less weight he puts on his hooves the better. He is on a special diet too, and he wears special shoes. We’ve had fantastic support from our farrier, Robbie Miller.”

Mickleburgh took Oratorio to the Highlands Stallion Day last week, where he looked well and proud and there were quite a few tearful eyes around the parade. “I wanted people to see that he is alive and well and how nicely he’d recovered. He’s ready for his job this season!”

Photo: Oratorio with Pippa Mickleburgh and Robbie Miller.

-From Turf Talk Newsletter.

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