Horseracing at Turffontein. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Horseracing at Turffontein. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

When it comes to great rescues, one of the most memorable in recent times was that of the young soccer players from a flooded cave in Thailand.

While the rescue performed by Form Bloodstock at last week’s Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale was far less dramatic, that they spent — in tough financial times — in excess of R10m more than any other buyer understandably had Bloodstock SA (BSA) singing their praises.

When the sums were added up, Form Bloodstock had bought 26 yearlings at a total cost of R18,895,000. Next in the buyers log was Summerhill Equestrian, who bought three yearlings — including the sales-topper — for R8.8m

Reflecting on the sale on Monday, Form’s Jehan Malherbe said: “We went expecting a bloodbath, but it didn’t happen. Indeed, we had to dig deeper to acquire the individuals that we wanted.

“There was plenty of money at the top end of the market but less so at the bottom. Even so, I think the sale indicated optimism for the industry in these extraordinary times.”

Form’s most expensive acquisition was the R4.5m bid for the grey colt Scarlet Ibis consigned by Wilgerbosdrift Stud. An early foal, the youngster is a son of Silvano out of the two-time winner Dashing Secret. Malherbe said he had been bought for “an international client”.

Form has been an important cog in the wheel of SA bloodstock for a number of years — a look back at the 2005 sale reveals they bought 22 yearlings for R6.3m.

Malherbe’s opinion that the sale was a success was backed up by a breeder — not in the premier league like Wilgerbosdrift, Mauritzfontein and Maine Chance — but one who must also have travelled to Germiston with some trepidation.

David Hepburn-Brown owns the Hemel ’n Aarde Stud near Hermanus and he consigned 13 yearlings — four as agent — to last week’s sale.

Asked for his view on the sale, Hepburn-Brown said: “Taking into account what is going on, I think the sale was very successful. I was very happy with my sale and maybe all the withdrawals played into our favour.

“One also has to look at our stallions, like always if the stallion is not firing, their progeny are going to battle in the ring. I also think there was a good vibe at the sale and hats off to the BSA team who did a great job,” he added.

List of leading buyers:

1 Form Bloodstock: 26 yearlings for R18,895,000.

2 Summerhill Equestrian: Three yearlings for R8,800,000.

3 John Freeman: 18 yearlings for R8,140,000.

4 Sabine Plattner: Five yearlings for R3,100,000.

5 Bass Racing: Six yearlings for R2,340,000.

6 Antony Beck: One yearling for R2,300,000.

7 Target Acq: Five yearlings for R2,065,000

8 Vermaak Equine: Eight yearlings for R1,675,000.

9 Dennis Drier: Five yearlings for R1,640,000.

10 S Viljoen: Five yearlings for R1,565,000.

In the vendors department, Wilgerbosdrift, which sold the R7m top lot, easily emerged on top with 18 yearlings sold for R16.6m. The other Oppenheimer-owned operation, Mauritzfontein, sold 26 yearlings for R9.2m.

List of leading Vendors:

1 Wilgerbosdrift: 18 yearlings sold for R16,655,000.

2 Mauritzfontein: 26 yearlings sold for R9,225,000.

3 Maine Chance: 14 yearlings sold for R6,280,000.

4 Varsfontein: 25 yearlings sold for R6,125,000.

5 Avontuur: 13 yearlings sold for R4,770,000.

6 Ascot: 17 yearlings (full draft) sold for R4,330,000.

7 Cheveley: Nine yearlings (full draft) sold for R3,930,000.

8 Drakenstein: Seven  yearlings sold for R3,200,000.

9 Boland: Six yearlings sold for R2,205,000.

10 Klipdrif: Nine yearlings sold for R2,160,000.

* Business Day’s racing writer David Mollett was in top form at Turffontein on Sunday, tipping seven winners on the eight-race card. They included Risk Taker, who returned R9 a win on the tote.

“Nearly a clean sweep, but the final race selection could only manage third,” said Mollett, now in his 35th year with the paper.

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