Strong support to continue Cape Premier Sale's upward trajectory
International presence can be found inspecting yearlings at the sales ground
Cape Town is something of an oasis for beach bums, wine connoisseurs and those simply looking to unwind against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain, and this week the city has also welcomed an international army of bloodstock aficionados who are in town for the Cape Premier Yearling Sale that kicked off on Saturday.
The sale comes at a time of significant change for the South African bloodstock industry, with beleaguered billionaire Markus Jooste, the leading buyer at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale since its inauguration in 2011, a notable absentee from this year's buying bench as his racing empire faces liquidation after allegations of accounting irregularities at the company he was chief executive of, Steinhoff International, emerged late last year.
Despite Jooste's absence, optimism was the prevailing emotion at the sales ground, and in an impassioned address at the launch party for the two-day auction, Cape Thoroughbred Sales chairman Chris Van Niekerk said that the support shown by breeders and buyers meant the sale was poised to continue its steep upward trajectory.
A likely source of hope will be the strong international presence on the sales ground, with high-profile Europeans such as Anthony Stroud, Amanda Skiffington, and Henri Bozo joined by the Hong Kong Jockey Club representatives - who it is hoped will become a major buying force in the South African market should the country's strict quarantine protocols be eased.
"I think the market will be strong this week," said Stroud. "When things change it gives opportunities to others and that could well happen here. When you go around and talk to the consignors they say more people are looking at horses than ever before."
"I've got a lot of faith in the future for South African breeding, as long as they manage to reopen the possibility of travelling horses easily, and I understand the authorities are making very good progress with that issue," added Bozo.
The international cast of buyers is mirrored in this year's catalogue, as the 70 lots by South Africa's leading stallions Captain Al, Dynasty, Silvano and Trippi are joined by yearlings by sires such as Frankel, Camelot, Pour Moi and Rock Of Gibraltar. There are also eight lots out of Group 1 winners and 14 siblings to top-level winners contained within the 254-lot catalogue.
The Cape Premier Yearling Sale has already produced 27 Group 1 winners and eight Equus champions since 2011, and given the strength in depth in this year's catalogue buyers will be rightly hopeful that 2018's graduates can add to those figures.
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