Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

In 2022 Andrew Miller — probably the best-known auctioneer in SA — is due to reach a significant milestone in his career. He will celebrate 40 years in his profession.

Miller began auctioneering in 1982 and has conducted thousands of sales throughout SA and most neighbouring countries. In 1986 he worked in the US, travelling with some of that country’s leading purebred livestock auctioneers.

One would imagine that next Sunday’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale at the De Grendel wine estate would be just another event in the diary of the father of Proteas batsman David Miller. That would be incorrect.

So much has changed since the last CTS Premier sale held in January 2020. First and foremost has been the change of sale location from the Cape Town International Convention Centre to De Grendel. The move is another feather in the cap of CTS executive chair Chris van Niekerk, as it will save the company millions of rand.

Of course, the convention centre — as it is in the heart of Cape Town — itself was a unique venue. Overseas visitors were full of praise for both the location and the hospitality.

The hospitality aspect will not change next Sunday and the De Grendel wines are sure to flow, but how will the sale fare in these dire times of Covid-19 and the problems buyers did not face 12 months ago?

Miller was approached to answer some questions:

Will it be a tough assignment without John O’Kelly and Grant Burns with you on the rostrum? In footballing terms, it is like Cristiano Ronaldo having Lionel Messi and Harry Kane as teammates.

Not at all. John O’Kelly and Grant Burns are consummate professionals but my preparation will be no different to what I normally do for every auction that I conduct. I look forward to working with Alistair Cohen and Charles Rwizi and will do everything I can to assist them both as they make their auction debuts at this sale.

Do you see international involvement? Amanda Skiffington has been a regular buyer from the UK in recent years and spent about R4m on four lots last year.

The association between CTS and the online auction platform of Meerkat opens the international door for anyone to participate from anywhere in the world. International buyers will be able to participate with absolute ease from the comfort of their lounge or office from anywhere in the world. All they have to do is preregister by contacting Amanda Carey or the Meerkat team.

The Sporting Post painted a glossy picture about the Mistico sale but the reality is that a quarter of the catalogue was either withdrawn or not sold. Do you see this being a problem with the 200-plus lots being offered on Sunday? 

Each sale on the calendar has its own flavour and feel. As usual an auction such as this will give everyone a fair chance to satisfy their individual purse.

I’m sure you agree it is a fillip that Highlands are sending an extra 17 yearlings. 

With 28 vendors represented on the sale from some of the country’s leading studs, there will be plenty of good horses for the discerning buyer.

Miller is right about that: the CTS sale has produced 42 grade 1 winners since inception including Power King, Carry On Alice, Undercover Agent, Vardy, Van Halen and Kasimir. Grant Knowles, marketing and bloodstock director, said: “The catalogue represents the strongest stallion portfolio in the country as well as some impeccably bred first season sires.”

The freshman sires include Erupt, Canford Cliffs, Gold Standard and Royal Mo.

Knowles also pointed to the result of last weekend’s grade 3 Cape Of Good Hope Nursery at Kenilworth in which Cosmic Highway beat Ambiorix and Sheldon. All three are graduates of the 2020 Premier Sale.

All graduates of the 2021 sale qualify for the first-ever R7.5m CTS Gold Rush to be run over 1,600m in which 16 “prospectors” will stake their claim for the huge purse, R5m of which will be paid to the winning owner.

“The Gold Rush concept is the first of its kind in SA. We’re extremely pleased by the support received for this initiative,” CTS sales director Carey said.

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