Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Next weekend’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale has received a huge shot in the arm with confirmation that John Magnier’s Coolmore team will be attending the sale at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

There had been speculation that Magnier, who owns horses with Markus Jooste, would give the sale a miss following the drama of the Steinhoff saga.

However, Wehann Smith, appointed CEO of Cape Thoroughbred Sales in 2017, has confirmed that representatives from the worldwide Irish operation will make the trip to SA.

"It is sad that Mayfair won’t be buying at this year’s sale, but Coolmore will certainly be attending the sale and I am confident of their support," Smith said. "We do have an extremely strong catalogue this year and I’m confident it will more than make up for the absence of Mayfair’s purchase power from previous years," he added.

One of the big spenders at the 2017 sale was China Horse Club, which bought yearlings for a total of R7m. "They will be here — represented by Mick Flanagan — and again I am confident of their support," he said.

Other possible major buyers could be Angus Gold for Mike de Kock’s principal patron, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, and leading UK trainer John Gosden, who is already in the Mother City. There are unconfirmed reports that Team Valor boss Barry Irwin may be making the trip from the US.

Smith said the statistic that best summarised this sale’s dominance over the rest was that since its inception, it had "produced more than 10% stakes winners to horses catalogued".

Any sale’s best adverts are its graduates and the victory of CTS buy Magical Wonderland in the Cartier Sceptre Stakes is a further fillip for the sale.

Trained by Candice Bass-Robinson, the daughter of What A Winter cost R450,000 as a yearling and now races for original partners Bryn Ressell and Marsh Shirtliff, who have bought the share previously owned by Mayfair Speculators.

"Yes, Magical Wonderland was very impressive, but there have been a host of other successes too," said Smith.

They include Heineken Chairman’s Cup victor Our Emperor and unbeaten Majestic Mambo, who continued the outstanding form of trainer Paul Peter when running out a two lengths winner of the Sea Cottage Stakes at Turffontein.

With 27 grade1 winners since the first sale in 2012, the big task for buyers is identifying possible future champions. It is no easy task when the horses going through the ring are still six months away from their second birthday.

Nevertheless, the country’s leading studs are sending strong drafts. Klawervlei will offer 70 yearlings by a variety of top stallions including ill-fated Captain Al, Dynasty and two fillies and a colt sired by the legendary Frankel. Highlands has a draft of 14 yearlings — all colts — that include sons of Dynasty, Soft Falling Rain and Jackson.

Maine Chance Farms has 12 fillies in its 21-strong draft, including a filly by Flower Alley out of a Australian mare and a Silvano filly out of a Galileo mare. Both should pique the interest of overseas buyers.

The many-times champion breeder Summerhill Stud will be expecting the catalogues to be waving for its Trippi colt, Hurricane Harry. The youngster is a half-brother to dual grade1 winner Rabada.

Lammerskraal Stud has always produced quality thoroughbreds and the pick of its six yearlings is likely to be a Dynasty colt out of grade2 winner Flying Ice.

If there were a prize for the best-named yearling on the sale, it would go to the Gary Player Stud. It has come up with the name of The Last Supper for its Var colt out of its grade2 winner Supper Club.

The sale kicks off at 6pm on January 20, with the second session commencing at 1pm the following day.

A total of 254 lots will come under the hammer.

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