Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S
Picture: 123RF/ MELORY S

The passing of breeder Robin Scott, who has died at the age of 86, brings the curtain down on a stud that left an indelible imprint as one of the country’s most successful thoroughbred farms in the past five decades.

Among many champions bred at the Scott Bros Highdown Stud, owned by Robin and brother Des, were Durban July winners Politician (1978), Devon Air (1984) and Illustrador (1990).

Notable stallions who stood at the stud in Nottingham Road included Jungle Cove (twice champion sire), Foveros (six-time champion sire), Mogok and his son The Apache, Overlord (by Danehill), Miesque’s Approval (by Miesque’s Son) and Atso (by Kingmambo).

The Apache, trained by Mike de Kock, won the Arlington Million in Chicago before being demoted to second after an objection. To say the horse’s conditioner viewed the decision with dismay is an understatement.

Before a dispersal sale at the farm in 2018, Robin Scott described in a Turftalk interview how the stud had started from humble beginnings in 1967.

“My brother, Neville, was the farmer in the family, he had a degree in agriculture. Des and I were in the commercial field and were shoe salesmen. We owned Scott Stores at that time. When we took over Highdown with brother Des, we had dreams for the farm but never thought it would grow so big.

“We stood many good stallions, notably Jungle Cove and Foveros, and we imported mares that produced top performers such as Teal, Ipi Tombe and J&B Met winner La Fabulous.

“Des and I are getting on. We’ve had long and productive years in the industry, but the time has come to round things up.”

More recently, Robin Scott was involved in a memorable day for Sean Tarry in June 2017 when the champion trainer saddled six winners at Greyville. One of the sextet was KwaZulu-Natal Breeders Million Mile victor Matador Man, and Robin was a shareholder in the colt, a son of Toreador out of the Mogok mare Sahara.

Mogok, a son of the legendary Storm Cat, was also the sire of grade 1 winning filly Gypsy’s Warning who made more than $1m when offered for sale at Keeneland.

However, it was the Durban July victory of Politician in 1978 which really cemented the Scott Bros breeding operation as one of the best in the country. The horse, trained by the legendary Syd Laird and ridden by Bertie Hayden, had a huge following with the racing public and his win cost bookies thousands of rand.

Owned by Michael Javett, Politician won 11 grade 1 races which included two J&B Mets, two Queen’s Plates and three horse-of-the-year titles (1976-78).

He was ridden by Hayden and his riding of the horse to win the 1979 was considered one of the best races in SA racing history.

Hayden, who passed away in May 2014, brought the son of Oligarchy (a tough campaigner in the US who won 16 races) from the back of the field to collar Festive Season by a neck.

No question that Robin — and his brother Des with his familiar black-white-and red silks — have left their mark on SA racing and breeding. Robin is survived by his wife Joyce, daughter Genevieve and sons, Russell and Stuart.

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