The threat of the trade unions and Cosatu maintaining their warning to boycott January’s Sun Met may have receded with the sale of Markus Jooste’s top horse Legal Eagle, while his other star, Edict Of Nantes, could be sold to Dubai or Hong Kong.
The Public Servants Association had called for a boycott of the Cape Town race if horses owned by Jooste took part. Pensions have been seriously affected by the Steinhoff scandal.
JSE-listed Phumelela Gaming & Leisure have been quick to respond, saying that its "door is open" for any negotiations. "Our CEO Rian Du Plessis is welcome to discuss with the unions any matter related to racing," said Phumelela racing executive Clyde Basel on Monday.
Businessman Braam van Huyssteen, who has 175 horses in training, has bought Legal Eagle — for R3.2m, some say.
"He’s the best horse in SA," Van Huyssteen enthused when the purchase was confirmed. He will race the six-year-old in partnership with Hedley McGrath and Brisbane-based William Henderson.
The six-time grade1 winner will stay with champion trainer Sean Tarry and will bid to win the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate for the third year running at Kenilworth on January 6.
However, there was a word of warning from Van Huyssteen regarding the Met for which Legal Eagle is 3-1 favourite. "There are other avenues open to us after that [Queen’s Plate]."
Edict Of Nantes, also a 3-1 chance for the Met, could miss the race as well if he is bought to campaign in Dubai or Hong Kong. Being last season’s champion three-year-old, his purchase price might be three times that of Legal Eagle — possibly in the region of $800,000.
"The world of international racing is open to him — he could be targeted at the 2019 Dubai World Cup which carries a stake of $10m," said bloodstock consultant Robin Bruss.
Investec chief Bernard Kantor has been appointed chairman of Phumelela, which is a shot in the arm for the JSE-listed company. He takes over from retiring chairman Peter Malungani. Kantor has built asset management company Investec into a global operation.
On his appointment, Kantor said: "The board and management are confident about the future of racing and betting in SA and we look forward to meeting the opportunities and challenges of 2018 and beyond."
Turffontein hosts an eight-race twilight meeting on Tuesday (3.10pm start) and jockey Anthony Delpech looks certain to be among the winners.
In the second race, Delpech rides Mike De Kock’s newcomer Chinchilla, who is a choicely bred daughter of Dynasty out of the talented mare Velvet Green.
The three-year-old will not have to be anything special to make a winning debut.
De Kock and Delpech team up again in the third race where Highland Hero — placed in both his starts — is certain to be sent off favourite.
Aussie import Quick Glimpse is the De Kock-Delpech horse in the fourth race in which the Captain Al filly, Invincible Lady, makes plenty of appeal following a promising debut effort at the Vaal. Another of Lerena’s mounts Sunshine Silk also rates an each-way chance in this 1,400m event.
Canford Cliffs will join the SA stallion ranks in 2018 and Delpech rides one of his daughters Fish River in the fifth race.