“Only one sale in the world is attended by a ‘judges’ panel drawn from the industry’s racing elite, who share their wisdom with the world, but there’s an added dimension to the judging this year: the audience is invited to participate.”
It’s been a good few years since our “digs” at the National Yearling Sales were apartments in the vicinity of the Wanderers Cricket Club. My morning jog in those days used to take me up around the home of my old pal then-Nedbank CEO, Rick Laubscher, through the park-like grounds of the venerable Inanda Club, and back past the palatial abode of Edgars and Coromandel Stud founder, Sydney Press. If the Inanda Club had a surreal feel to it in those days, when much of the land in that neck of the woods resembled a farm, imagine it these days ensconced in the walls of suburban Illovo, and surrounded by some of the great homes of our landmass. Founded in 1934 by Johannesburg’s “A-list” families in conjunction with the Rand Hunt Club (only in Jo’burg would you find a “hunt club” these days in the middle of a city precinct), Inanda celebrates its 80th birthday this year in facilities comparable to the plushest anywhere, an eclectic mix of modern practicality and the style that belongs alone to the gentleman’s clubs of India’s Raj.
Looking out from the balconies of the Polo lounge, to the North and East stretches the most valuable commercial real estate on the continent, punctuated everywhere by the headquarters of our biggest financial institutions, while here in the midst of it all, the teenage daughter of an expatriate merchant banker “sticks-and-balls” across the pitch in the company of her Zulu mentor, who’s perfected the art of letting a few squeeze through like they were great shots.
While you might have thought they’d be toiling away in Cape Town with less than a week to their Ready To Run auction at Durbanville racecourse, it’s apparent from the numbers, and the gravitas of the honchos at Inanda this past week, that the CTS team means business as they launch the first-ever Ready To Run sale in the moneyed sanctum of the City of Gold. Club Manager Paul Oosthuizen rattles off the names of some of the luminaries we might expect at the ringside, former celebrated racehorse owner and chairman of Anglo Vaal, Basil Hersov and his wife, Antoinette (remember Abbey Boy?), Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (he of the multimillion Rand buffaloes) and former president Thabo Mbeki. An enterprising lady bandies about a choice of lunchtime entertainers, and the consensus falls with former Idols star, Jason Hartman. Another is on the phone arranging a performance for the opening ceremony by the Lipizzaners, descendants of the incomparable stock at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School; that they are here is attributable to the daring and compassion of the supreme horsemen, Col George Iwanowski and Count Jankowitz-Besan, who smuggled them out through Tito’s Yugoslavia during World War II to their haven in South Africa, where they’ve been ever since.
They mean business all right, this CTS lot, and you can be sure there’ll be more than a smattering of Sandton’s “mink” set in attendance come Friday 31st October. In the Hunt Lounge, a television crew conducts interviews for Sunday’s “Breeding To Win” programme (Channel 239 on DSTV at 7pm) where the first inklings of what’s in store will be aired for the first time.
CTS have big plans for the gallops too, now officially scheduled for 10am Friday 17th October at their traditional home, here at Summerhill. Heaven knows what we should expect, but following their maxi-haul at the “Nationals” of two-thirds of our Visionaires, we’re told that some of the Western Cape’s biggest hitters are planning a repeat raid by executive jet on the gallops, and that they intend remodelling the face of our dinner celebrations at Hartford House the evening before. Oribi airport has been told to reserve at least two parking bays. A clamp on a few Visionaires is a possibility, but given that its protagonists over the years include de Kock, Malherbe, Kannemeyer and Ramsden, upping the “ante” on the evening’s events will take a bit of doing.
On the score of these gentleman, only one sale in the world is attended by a “judges” panel drawn from the industry’s racing elite, who share their wisdom with the world, but there’s an added dimension to the judging this year: the audience is invited to participate. Long before the pens come out in judgment however, the day’s rituals commence with luxury coach conveyance from Durban, Summerveld and Ashburton, champagne and strawberries and our victorious Zulu dance troupe, fresh from their triumph at Edinburgh’s Military Tattoo, will announce our arrivals, and lunch will be one of those country occasions that’ll stick forever.
Nobody needs telling, but we’ve seen some innovations at the Ready To Run, inspired principally by those who earn their crusts at Summerhill and the geniuses at Emperors Palace. We never thought we’d have to wait three scores and change to witness the next revolution. Believe me though, it’s arrived.