Optimism pays off as Mauritzfontein grooms strike gold in Johannesburg

The team sold a well-related son of Dynasty for R800,000

The Mauritzfontein team with Spero Optima after he fetched R800,000 at the National Yearling Sale in Johannesburg
The Mauritzfontein team with Spero Optima after he fetched R800,000 at the National Yearling Sale in Johannesburg

There were plenty of seven-figure prices flying about during the second session of Bloodstock South Africa's National Yearling Sale in Johannesburg on Wednesday, but the sale of a Dynasty colt for R800,000 to Form Bloodstock undoubtedly ranks as one of the auction's best results.

The colt, who is out of the Group 2-winning Maybe Yes, was offered by Mary and Jessica Slack's Mauritzfontein, and was owned in partnership between Jessica and the stud's 34-strong team of grooms and groundskeepers after a unfortunate turn of events.

"The grooms have two mares on the farm but back in 2016 they ended up with no foals," explained Jessica Slack, whose colours have been carried in Europe by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained three-time Group 1 winner Smart Call.

"I love the mare Maybe Yes, and so when the grooms ended up with no foals I said they could take half of her Dynasty colt in the hope that it would change their luck.

"Everybody works so hard and as they're looking after my horses for me I thought it only seemed fair to share the goods when they were having a tough time. At that stage he was just a foal though, so we had no idea what kind of yearling he would grow into."

The Mauritzfontein grooms had clearly used all their skill and dedication in preparing the son of Dynasty, as he had developed into a fine stamp of a yearling by the time his turn in the Johannesburg sales ring came.

And after a lengthy bidding battle the colt was duly snapped up by Form Bloodstock's Jehan Malherbe for R800,000 (£45,975/€52,680), and will now head into training with leading trainer Mike de Kock.

"I think after the guys came into the horse he got a bit spoilt!" added Slack with tongue firmly in cheek.

"It's a big team effort back on the farm and it's so much fun to be able to share the success with everybody. They've worked particularly hard with the string at the sales.

"We're so lucky at Mauritzfontein as I think we have some of the best staff around. They really pull their weight as they work so hard with the yearlings and then it starts all over again with the foals."

Moreover, this is not the first time that Maybe Yes has done Slack a good turn.

"Maybe Yes is actually the first Group winner that I bred personally," she said. "And this colt has been named Spero Optima, which is my grandfather's family crest and means 'always be optimistic'. That seemed fitting for the progeny of a mare called Maybe Yes!"

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Published on 25 April 2018Last updated 15:38, 25 April 2018