Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK
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One of Markus Jooste’s business initiatives — the renaming of the famous Epsom Hill as Poundland Hill at the Investec Derby Festival — has been scuppered by Britain’s The Jockey Club, which has stepped in to cancel the deal.

Business Day reported in 2017 that after negotiations with The Jockey Club and Epsom executives the hill would carry the name Poundland, a UK retailer taken over by Steinhoff International. Members of the public wanting access to the hill for the Derby festival simply had to spend one pound at one of Poundland’s stores. At the time, Jooste quipped: "Just call me the Robin Hood of Epsom."

No one can deny it was a smart advertising move aimed at making the public more aware of Poundland stores.

In a statement, Epsom GM Simon Durrant said: "Due to the widely reported issues concerning Steinhoff International, we have mutually agreed that Poundland, one of its brands, will not be involved with The Hill at the Investec Derby Festival in June.

"In future the famous Hill will carry the name Horseplay On The Hill. We remain committed to enabling families and racing fans to enjoy world-class racing and entertainment from the heart of Epsom Downs for free and will be building on the excellent zone that was created last year," said Durrant.

The absence of Jooste and Mayfair Speculators from last week’s CTS Yearling Sale at Durbanville racecourse was felt by vendors, with the average for the 343 lots catalogued dipping to R97,764. The Select session average was R16,1219.

The top price of R700,000 was bid by trainer Vaughan Marshall for a Silvano colt.

The most expensive filly, at R525,000, was a daughter of Captain Al.

Commenting on the sale, racing newspaper The Sporting Post said: "The South African thoroughbred industry is going through a phase of major correction and adjustment on all fronts. We are clearly feeling the knock-on effects of the vacuum left by Markus Jooste and, to a lesser extent, the competitive edge provided by the late Adriaan van Vuuren."

Last week’s sale brought plenty of comment on the Sporting Post website, with Gauteng trainer Ian Jayes saying: "It looks like real value and good sense is returning to the yearling market, it was long overdue."

Another post suggested that some potential buyers are unhappy with breeders. "Breeders have been highly enriched with ‘stolen monies’. I have no pity for the breeders — or at least many of them — who treated the rest of us as if we were unwanted customers as we didn’t have millions to spend."

The next sale on the bloodstock calendar is the National Yearling Sale in Germiston, which starts on April 24.

With the last four races at Turffontein last Saturday abandoned due to unsafe going, track officials will be monitoring the weather for Tuesday night’s nine-race programme.

The fifth race, a sprint over 1,000m, could be the best race on the card with several useful speed merchants from top stables due to do battle. Mike de Kock saddles Aussie import Naafer and Sir David Baird, Sean Tarry has Trip To Heaven and Johan Janse van Vuuren has entered Green Pepper and Cathedral County.

Although she is the only filly in the race, Green Pepper should be at peak fitness following two placed runs in March and should go close in the hands of her regular pilot, Randall Simons.

S’manga Khumalo rode a double at Turffontein on Saturday and he partners the classy Trip To Heaven, who was having his first run since campaigning in the Cape when finishing five lengths behind Romi’s Boy in March. He is sure to have benefited from that outing.

In the seventh race, Khumalo rides another Tarry inmate, Pilou, who is going a longer trip after finishing second over 1,600m. The four-year-old faces a tough rival in the De Kock representative Secret Captain.