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Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH
Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH

It is 43 years since her talented New Zealand-bred import, Bold Monarch, won the Queen’s Plate, but that horse’s owner, Mary Liley, gave notice she is still chasing big race glory when buying the top filly at last week’s BSA KZN Yearling Sale.  

Described as one of the “grand dames” of the sport, Liley went to R625,000 to acquire a daughter of Vercingetorix consigned by Klawervlei Stud.

The progeny of Vercingetorix have done well this season with his principal earners being Alesian Chief, Astrix and Pomp And Power. The latter disappointed when failing to place in Saturday’s Hollywoodbets Durban July.

Liley was married to John Liley who was involved in jump racing in New Zealand, and their decision to import a number of horses from that country paid dividends with big race wins from Bold Monarch, Sun Monarch and Be Noble.

More recently, Liley has enjoyed success with Tristful who is trained by Tony Rivalland. Unfortunately, the gelding, who finished last in the 2021 Durban July, has failed to fire in his three starts this year with unplaced runs in both the Cup Trial and WSB 1900.

Considering he returned an average of R617,976 at the National Sales in April, the six progeny of Vercingetorix were always going to be in demand and bloodstock consultant John Freeman went to R1.1m to secure one of his sons consigned by Boland Stud.

At the close of play, Vercingetorix’s sextet grossed R2.86m with an average per yearling of R477,500.

Klawervlei Stud also sold a daughter of Vercingetorix for a decent price with Sandy Arundel going to R400,000 to take home a filly out of the mare, Pagan Dance.

Another notable sale was a price of R450,000 bid by former SA champion trainer, David Ferraris, for an Ideal World colt consigned by Mauritzfontein Stud. The sire is best known as the sire of champion, Rainbow Bridge.

When BSA totted up their sums at the end of the sale, the aggregate realised was R18.09m with an average of R123,938.

Meanwhile, while Gold Circle will be happy with Saturday’s crowd of 35,000 plus for the Durban July, it was a different story in the UK with the trend of smaller crowds continuing.

Sandown hosted one of their biggest races of the year at the weekend — the Coral Eclipse Stakes — and the attendance dipped from 13,741 in 2019 to 9,500 this year.

A Sandown official attributed the fall to a “cost of living crisis” in the UK with many households struggling with increases in fuel and electricity.

A survey by the British Horseracing Authority revealed that racecourse attendances in May had dropped by a third compared with the same month in 2019. 

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