MELBOURNE – Memo to all South Africans contemplating a trip to Melbourne for the Inglis Premier Sale which begins on 27 February – get there two days earlier for a chance to see the best in the world, Black Caviar, contest the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
Trust me, I am not indulging in your usual Aussie parochialism here. She is a freak. There is not a sprinting horse in the world – not even Val De Ra – who could get near her. She ran 21.7 sec for her last 400m in last Saturday’s Grade 1 CF Orr Stakes and that was with the handbrake still on.
Trust me, too, this is not a free plug for Inglis. It’s probably not required, in any case, given the recent success of Igugu and the terrific run enjoyed by Dean Kannemeyer with his Melbourne graduates.
As to any bias, let me say categorically that I have no doubt that Igugu would have won last year’s Cox Plate and would probably win the 2102 edition. I’m confident she’s superior to Pinker Pinker – the mare of the same age who claimed last year’s Moonee Valley feature.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Igugu, in the flesh, win the Durban July and the J&B Met. The trip to Cape Town, in January was brilliant, with the opportunity to enjoy great hospitality in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Nonetheless, I was subjected to a continuous barrage – “We support your sales but you Australians do not reciprocate by buying in South Africa,’’ was the refrain from many a breeder and trainer.
The problem, of course, is the restrictive quarantine protocols which make it near impossible to ship a horse back to Australia or to any other part of the world, which meant that Igugu stayed at home345 to delight local fans. That, of course, raises a debate for another day and one which every racing jurisdiction must juggle – do we want our best horses competing at home345 or waving the flag abroad?
Kannemeyer, however, does raise a fair point regarding Australia’s lack of support of the SA breeding industry. “You can buy a quality horse for less here and have it prepared for racing – and trained and raced as a young horse – for considerably less than you would pay in Australia. If the horse is above average, you can then make a decision about its future.’’
Kannemeyer is likely to be back in Melbourne for the Premier Sales and that’s hardly a shock. He has a fantastic strike from his Melbourne acquisitions. He’s purchased just seven horses – with a little help from bloodstock expert Jehan Malherbe – and has found four stakes horses – Royal Chalon, Le Drakkar, Kingslayer and Liancourt Rock.
The affable and multi-talented Malherbe will again join the engaging Kannemeyer in Melbourne and Inglis representative Simon Vivian, a regular visitor to South Africa, is confident they won’t be alone.
“Numbers aren’t confirmed just yet but I’m sure we’ll have a good few South African buyers which is great because they have become a key part of our sale. It’s possible we might even have Mike de Kock for the first time. He’s never bought in Melbourne but obviously has a connection through Igugu. We’re just sorting out a few visa issues,’’ Vivian said.
Summerhill Stud’s Mick Goss, the man who bought Igugu for $65,000, is a confirmed visitor. Igugu was later sold through the Summerhill Stud draft at the 2009 Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale for R1 million ($A135,000), which now seems a bargain.
As an owner (as well as would-be journalist) and notwithstanding that it’s my home345town, there’s not much doubt that Melbourne tends to be the best-value sale in Australia. Black Caviar, Starspangledbanner, Weekend Hussler, Scared Kingdom and Igugu are the success stories of recent years.
But, you know what, just as importantly you might as well come for the Caviar and the “craic’’ as the Irish would say. After my recent trip to Cape Town, I wrote: “If you’re Australian you will probably feel at home345 in Cape Town and most parts of South Africa and if you’re a Melbournian you definitely will.’’ I’m sure the reverse would apply.