IN an emotional address to guests attending the cocktail party for the official opening of the 2018 Cape Premier Yearling Sale on Friday, CTS Chairman Chris Van Niekerk delivered a speech so frank and refreshing it drew several cheers from a large audience at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art on the V&A Waterfront.
Van Niekerk, in reference to the loss of Markus Jooste to the racing industry following the Steinhoff saga, pulled no punches in assessing the situation as it stands and said:
“Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General, spoke about his fall in the following words: ‘I wanted too much. I strung the bow too tightly. I believed too much in my own good fortune.’
“Over the last six weeks our industry has seen some hectic times, some changing times. When you find that your biggest owner and buyer of racehorses in the country and your champion owner for 10 consecutive years, leaves the arena, it does leave more than a ripple.”
“There is a lot of emotion around. You can choose sadness, it’s your right to be sad about the whole damn thing. You can choose anger, it’s your prerogative to be angry. You can be happy, there are people who are happy about what happened.
“I’m not here to sing anybody’s praises or to cast any judgement. I’m in the sad corner. I’d rather remember the value added over the years to the industry and to peoples’ lives.
“Let’s put this in perspective. Mayfair Speculators owned 25% of CTS. The other 75% are still represented here tonight. I’d like to thank my fellow directors, fellow shareholders. I need to thank Bernard Kantor for playing a key role in stabilising matters at this difficult time.
“What has been created here is an iconic sale, it’s become a part of the world calendar. There will be another bigger buyer of racehorses. There will be another, a new champion owner of the year. And let me remind you, even though Elvis left the building, the music never stops!
“Talking about music, John Lennon said, “Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end!”
“Rumours have been flying about CTS not honouring its commitments. Those spreading the rumours didn’t eyeball me or ask me to my face. But one should not be surprised. Rumours are often spawned from petty personal agendas.
“Within this environment of shock we are deeply humbled by the support we have received. We are deeply humbled by individuals who have phoned, offering help. We are deeply humbled that, amidst this uncertainty and shock, not one vendor pulled back, they are all here. What they committed, they have delivered.
“Where in the world, at the same sale, can you buy a yearling by Frankel, a Frankel on foot and a mare in foal to one of the top stallions? We will be humbled if buyers buy properly over the next two days.
“This Chinese New Year which starts in February is the Year of the Dog. It is predicted that it will be a good year all round. It is said that the dog will accelerate all innovations and new things this year and the characterising word for the year of the dog is ‘action’.
“We need to execute and plan and what we need more than anything else is a breakthrough on the protocol side. We need a game changer. It is important that we as an industry speak with one voice and that we are united. Going back to John Lennon who said, ‘If you dream on your own it’s a dream, if you dream together it’s reality!”
Photo by Brent Abrahams.