Let The Games Begin

Let The Games Begin

Ready-To-Run Sale horses leaving Summerhill Stud this week for Johannesburg. Image: Summerhill Stud

The gallops are over, the judges have handed down their verdicts, and the horses are at the TBA Sales complex in Germiston, awaiting your inspection. The Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale is now entering its final phases, and because it happens to be aligned with the biggest race of its kind in the world, there’s as much of a buzz about Saturday’s Ready To Run Cup, as there is around the sale itself. Understand, we’re talking about prize money of R2.5million, equal with the J&B Met, and just a few decimals behind the Vodacom Durban July, as well as the best trophy in racing.

The Cup has its own challenges of course, particularly when there have already been some 45 winners emerging from last year’s sale, the bulk of whose owners are itching to get a run in the big event. The organisers did have a crack at persuading Phumelela to put on a consolation race for those that missed the cut, but to date, it hasn’t met with universal approval. Keep trying, they say.

Contrast this with the first running of the Cup six years ago, when one or two of the entries in the field were still non-winners, and you begin to get a feel of how deep the quality in the sale is these days. By the time this is published, the selection panel will have issued their invitations, the final field will have been announced in a live draw on Tellytrack (between 12 & 2pm on Tuesday 30th October) and while there are bound to be a few disappointments, there will also be a legion of ecstatic owners, trainers and jockeys. They’ll be pouring into Emperors Palace for Thursday evening’s cocktail party (7 for 7:30pm), particularly if there’s a prospect of shaking hands with Princess Charlene, and no doubt, we’ll feel the electricity in the parade ring on Saturday. Spare a thought though, for those who missed the cut, and especially for the selection panel who had to make the agonising decisions.

Bloodstock SA and their vendors have left no stone unturned. Ready To Run week is packed with activities, starting with the televised draw, visits to the sales complex and the attendant entertainment at vendors’ boxes, cocktails with the nation’s most recongisable faces and the opening salvos at the TBA’s “bull ring” on Friday evening. Then it’s about summoning the energy for the big race on Saturday. His Majesty King Letsie III is the official Honour Guest, but for those with an eye for the finer things in life, he could just have some competition with the presence of Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco.

Find some stamina now, because Summerhill’s celebrity chef, Jackie Cameron, has listed her choices of Johannesburg’s finest restaurants for those who are making a festival of the week (http://blog.summerhill.co.za/blog/2012/10/26/jackie-camerons-restaurant-picks-for-ready-to-run-week.html and then click to download the recommendations as a PDF document), and then we need to be properly attired at the sales grounds Sunday morning, when the gladiators take up arms again. We use those words advisedly, because if you’ve been following the gallops, the consensus is that this is the best line-up of horses we’ve seen at a Ready To Run Sale, and there’ll be stiff competition when the auctioneers take up their gavels at 5 pm Friday and again at 2pm on Sunday.

BSA have posted out DVDs of the gallops, but if you haven’t received yours yet, you can get one delivered by hand if you’re in the near vicinity, or alternatively go to the two websites (www.tba.co.za or www.summerhill.co.za) where you can access all of them at your leisure. Please remember too, the action in the sales ring will be streamed live on both these websites throughout the sale, so you can keep up with the action from start to finish.

While most of South Africa’s big-hitters will have their hands in the ring, they won’t have it all their own way. There’ll be catalogues waving from as far afield as Hong Kong, Japan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritius, and while that might suggest a “tough” contest, this sale is most famous for its excellent value horses. The trick here is to make use of every tool at your disposal, and that’s where the Ready To Run separates itself from other options. Firstly, there’s the benefit of hindsight, which comes in the form of a live gallop.

A horse doesn’t know who his father is, so if he can run, he can run! Secondly, there are judges’ panels, grooms, jockeys and stud managers to guide you in what they already know of the horses from their work at home, and there’s many a tale of a jewel falling into the lap of the buyer whose limited budget was rewarded by his own intuitions or for seeking some “insider” information.

And then finally, it’s worth remembering that this is the only sale in the world that formally offers up to six cheques * (depending on aggregate purchases) to those who’d prefer to spread their payments over a period of time. It only remains for you to tick the box when you sign for your purchase, to ensure you have a ticket in next year’s R2.5million sweep.

*For those in good standing with Bloodstock South Africa at the time of sale.

The catalogue for the Emperors Palace Ready-To-Run Sale is available for viewing at www.tba.co.za and now includes video footage of each horses gallop that took place at Summerhill, 19 October.

2012 Emperors Palace Ready-To-Run Sale
TBA Complex, Gosforth Park
Friday, 2nd November @ 17h00 Lots 1–75
Sunday, 4th November @ 14h00 Lots 76–202

Visit Summerhill’s Blog and Website at www.summerhill.co.za

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