Peak Of Perfection: Piemonte Stud



Peak Of Perfection: Piemonte Stud

. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Foals pictured in 2014 by Oratorio on the left, and Silvano on the right at Piemonte Stud in Summerveld.

Piemonte Stud is based in the heart of racehorse country in KZN, a beautiful area of Summerveld which sees multiple Group champions coming out of its training tracks year after year.

Named after the province of Piemonte in Italy where the Scribante’s family home remains (which Lee returns to every year), the stud is a family owned business with the father and son duo of Lee and Dino Scribante, both sharing a common love of speed and competition in a variety of sports and disciplines.

Lee and Dino not only produce and own Group winning racehorses, but they are also actively involved in the highly competitive arenas of racing cars, pigeons and showing Koi at the highest level.

It is an eye-catching, modern establishment with everything a horse could want; the Scribante’s are progressive in their goals to be the best, including growing hydroponic feed for the horses on a daily basis which is paying off, judging by the size of the bone in their foals and overall well-being of their animals. Their mares and foals are all brought into their stables every evening.

Var mare Wishful Eye with her beautiful Kahal colt. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Both astute businessmen, Lee and Dino provide a strong ‘hands on’ managerial approach to their farm and the love, passion and care they have for their horses can be felt the minute you arrive at the beautiful grounds of Piemonte.

“The farm that I have at present is our home. My wife Nancy came from a farming background – and I being a farmer at heart, found that it was a place that I could move to and follow my dream. I would love it to be five times bigger! Fortunately I can keep all my racing pigeons, show Koi, my collection of cars and racecars (I still race cars at my tender age). As we say in this industry, ‘it ticks all the boxes’.”

Lee competed and achieved his colours provincially and nationally in both athletics and boxing and this played a part in his selection of his first racehorse.

“As a young student at the University of Cape Town, I received a call one Friday evening from my father telling me to go to Milnerton training track at 5:30 the very next morning, to see a Mr Willie Kleb,” Lee explains.

Var Black Type mare Wishful Eye with her stunning Kahal colt at foot.

“I duly got there at 5:30am and introduced myself to Mr Kleb who happened to be one of the doyens of South African trainers in that era. He showed me six horses that were circling in the ring and told me that I had to choose one of them. All I knew about horses at that time was that they had a head and a tail and that they eat 24/7 – I asked him to help me choose one. His answer was “no, your Dad said you must choose!”

Lee adapted his philosophy of what he believed an athlete should look like, selecting a horse called Sonata. “Mr Kleb asked me why I chose him. I said that the horse looked the most athletic and capable to me. He then pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, and said “no matter what you chose, that was the one you were getting anyway!”

Sonata went to Port Elizabeth at the time and raced in the HB Christian Memorial Handicap three weeks later and won over 2000m. Lee says excitedly, “I thought well, this game is quite easy! However the 44 years since then have proven to me that the game is actually not so easy, and definitely not for the faint of heart.”

The Scribante’s are very family orientated and Lee explains that they have always raced horses “ for all these years with my father and brother, but my interest has always been in the breeding.”

Lee admits that he has always been a farmer at heart, albeit from a “construction background”.

“I retired three or four years ago, having worked seven days a week my whole life, and now I want to follow my passion in terms of what I want to do, and we put that into Piemonte. When I moved here I bought the property on either side of me and expanded, but I can only keep 20-25 mares on this farm so the majority of my mares are sent out to establishments in KZN, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.”

Await The Dawn filly. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Filly by Await The Dawn, from his first crop.

Lee has a first class broodmare band comprising of 58 mares in total. They also include the likes of Stakes winning Scripture, who has a fantastic Horse Chestnut at foot, Bold Black-Type Var mare Wishful Eye and Tsunami – the latter has just foaled an outstanding Gimmethegreenlight colt.

Tsunami’s 2013 yearling filly sold at Nationals for R900 000. A few of the outstanding foals roaming the green paddocks of Piemonte include sires Oratorio, Byword, Var, Crusade and of course Await The Dawn.

“This is our third year breeding Thoroughbreds and I must emphasise that we sell everything that we breed. Out of force majeure we have had to keep one because he got injured before the KZN Yearling Sale, and he happened to be a winner – not only winning his debut but also the first winner bred by Piemonte, for which we were very proud, of course.”

At the 2014 KZN Yearling Sale, Piemonte averaged just under R100 000 for four yearlings sold – the top-priced selling for R150 000, a colt by Ideal World.

“We do race, but we buy our horses at the sales and I purchase on pedigree with the hope that the fillies I buy can return to stud. I also believe that youth breeds vitality, so I like to keep the breeding stock young.”

With a breeding philosophy of buying the best mares and breeding to the best stallions across South Africa, it reflects in the quality draft Dino Scribante has lined up for the Nationals next year.

“We are entering a lovely draft of yearlings for the Nationals in 2015. I have been asked to enter more than what I did previously, I was quite select and chose 12. Amongst them are two Western Winters, three Philanthropists which I really like, a Var, Sail From Seattle and Bold Silvano. Half of the mares they are out of are already proven and I am hoping to be successful at that sale.”

Lee admits philosophically: “It becomes a patience game, some pedigrees will work, some pedigrees won’t. You also need an element of luck. Regarding our foals and what we currently have on the ground now, I feel Piemonte is certainly going in the right direction, that’s for sure.”

Lee owns shares in a number of prolific stallions across the country, and owned a large percentage in the very exciting son of Giant’s Causeway – the first to come to South Africa – the magnificent *Await The Dawn who stands at Summerhill.

“We purchased shares in Await The Dawn and the reviews about him have been very good. His first crop of youngsters are on the ground now, and I have three here on the farm which tick all of the boxes.

“We really liked his sire Giants Causeway – but no one sold me anything when it came to Await The Dawn.” says Lee.

“I looked at his races that he competed in and I received feedback from those who trained him in Dubai and it was all very good. The Group races he won in the UK were very impressive and he won easily. He raced in the Gr1 not 100% well, and unfortunately he was never the same horse thereafter. “Mick Goss from Summerhill Stud contacted me, we discussed, and shook hands on a deal and things began to fall into place. The horse was offered to Summerhill and I took a percentage in him.”

On Saturday mornings Lee can be found at Summerveld training centre, watching his horses work. He has horses in training with various conditioners across the country. “Currently I race horses in partnership with my brother. We have twenty-two horses in training, of that twenty two, eighteen are fillies – which can only mean they will all come back to the farm for breeding,” says Lee with a smile.

“We have been fortunate to have raced successfully with the horses we have had, going back to my father. We have run second and fourth in the Met, fourth in the Durban July and we have won numerous Group races including at the time the Gr1 Gold Vase in Durban. Our good horses included the likes of Western Wind, Western Boy, Captive Prince, Knockout, Ziplock and Scripture who has formed part of our broodmare band. There will be two or three horses in training now that you will hear a bit of soon, the first is Winter Fantasy. Watch this space!”

*Await The Dawn passed away unexpectedly a few days after this interview took place. He leaves behind a magnificent first crop of foals this season. Our condolences go out to Piemonte and Summerhill Stud on the loss of a great stallion.

– Article first published in International Racehorse Magazine, Quarter 1 2015, text and images by Candiese Marnewick.

Piemonte Stud’s TBA National Yearling Sales Draft for 2015:

Lot

Name

Sex

Sire

Dam

Stable

Vendor

KZN-Registered

69

Lee’s Pick

c.

Philanthropist

Boreal Applause

B75

Piemonte Stud

Yes

70

Dino’s Delight

c.

Philanthropist

Borrego Honey

B74

Piemonte Stud

Yes

181

Sailing East

c.

Sail From Seattle

Hard To Get

B73

Piemonte Stud

Yes

182

Scribo

c.

Miesque’s Approval

Harolds Gold

B72

Piemonte Stud

No

188

Mark’s Glory

c.

Western Winter

Honour And Glory

B71

Piemonte Stud

Yes

205

Lee’s Star

c.

Western Winter

Irish Heroine

B70

Piemonte Stud

Yes

322

Jamie O

c.

Judpot

Picturesque

B69

Piemonte Stud

Yes

353

Louella

f.

Fort Wood

Raw Deal

B77

Piemonte Stud

Yes


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