South African Sale-Topper Filly Destined for Australia

Media Release - Friday January 17

Top bloodstock agent Ric Wylie created history in Cape Town on Thursday night (16 January) when purchasing two fillies at the 2020 CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sale, the first ever South African yearlings bought specifically to race in Australia.

Andrew Hawkins writes - On behalf of an undisclosed client, Wylie took an audacious first step towards creating a bold new chapter in the story of the world’s richest juvenile race, the LONGINES Golden Slipper, with both fillies potentially adding a new international flavour in 2021. With South African horses also bred to southern hemisphere time, the fillies could be the first of many to contest the plethora of two-year-old races available in Australia.

An Australian presence at South Africa’s premier thoroughbred sale is generally restricted to passing references in pedigrees, with Australian-bred sires Gimmethegreenlight, Rafeef and Time Thief represented, as well as yearlings out of 19 Australian-bred mares.

Trippi filly from Val de Ra - Top priced filly at the 2020 CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sale - image Liesl KingHowever, having joined the Cape Thoroughbred Sales inspection team for the first time this season, Wylie envisioned an unconventional strategy where he would take advantage of the weakness of the rand and the general malaise in the South African racing industry.

“We made the early decision this year to come over here to look at the quality fillies in the sale with the idea of taking them to Australia,” Wylie said. “It’s not been done before, it’s normally them coming this way, but there are a number of reasons why it makes sense. We identified half a dozen fillies in the catalogue, these were two of the three that met every criterion that we wanted.

“After the inspections last year, I was really impressed with some of the types - and that was without pedigrees. So I went to some of the top studs in Australia and New Zealand and said, I can buy the best-bred filly in South Africa for 20 cents in the dollar. One client was very interested, and they have got involved.”

Wylie paid R1.65 million (AUD$166,259) for the sale’s top filly, an Avontuur Stud-bred bay by Trippi out of multiple Group 1 winner Val De Ra. The mare was named South Africa’s champion sprinter in the 2010/11 season and has already produced graded stakes winner Miss Frankel from two foals to race.

The agent revealed that both the new acquisition and Miss Frankel will be departing South Africa on the same shipment, with the older filly set to begin her broodmare career in the UK.

They will be joined on the flight by Lammerskraal Stud’s Lot 104, by Visionaire out of the Jallad mare Strawberry Lane, who has already produced two Group 1 winners. Wylie purchased the bay filly for R600,000 (AUD$60,395).

“Both of my buys come from great families, Group 1 families,” he said. “The Strawberry Lane filly comes from a great Australian family too - her second dam is the Centaine mare Taineberry, that’s the family of one of my purchases a while ago in Galaxy Fair, also Barkada and Best Western. You can’t access a filly with a page like that for that sort of price elsewhere.”

Although the pair are set to begin their journey to Australia this weekend, they face an arduous 11-month expedition before they reach their destination.

Equine exports from South Africa have been significantly hampered since 2013, when it was determined by the European Union (EU) that the deadly African horse sickness could potentially be spread by horses leaving the country, even those in quarantine.

Another EU audit is scheduled for April, with a positive outcome anticipated. It is set to once again open direct trade not just with Europe but the rest of the world, but Wylie said his client would not be awaiting the outcome of that inspection. 

“I’ve got them booked on a flight in three weeks,” Wylie said. “Unfortunately, it will take until December before they land in Australia, which has always been the issue we’ve faced buying from here with the protocols. However, there are plenty of positives and we are very lucky to be able to get them.”

For a horse to travel from South Africa to Australia, 19 days of pre-export quarantine must be completed on home soil before they fly five hours to Mauritius, their home for the next three months.

From there, horses can head to the United Kingdom, where - due to Australia’s strict quarantine protocols - they must spend six months in residence. They then must complete the regular procedure undertaken by other equine visitors to Australia, with two weeks of quarantine in England followed by another two weeks down under.

That means that, if the two fillies go into quarantine this weekend, they will not be able to step foot onto Australian soil until late November at the very earliest.

Similar restrictions have cruelled plans for one of South Africa’s best gallopers, the Mike De Kock-trained Hawwaam, to race in Australia this year. The De Kock yard have confirmed that the Silvano four-year-old will have his final South African outing in the G1 Sun Met (2000m) on 1 February, with a campaign in Dubai next year a possibility before potentially relocating to Australia.

For Wylie’s fillies, the time required in England may prove a positive with the duo set to benefit from a northern summer.

“They’ll have a quiet English summer once they get there mid-year,” he said. “They’ll be broken in up the Lambourn gallops with the sun on their backs and they’ll arrive in Australia ready to go into training with whichever trainer my client decides to put them with.”

Cape Thoroughbred Sales CEO Wehann Smith proclaimed the Australian involvement as one highlight of what was otherwise a tough sale, with numbers down across the board.

“As an industry, I think it’s something that we in South Africa should be really excited about,” he said. “It’s an arduous and costly trip at this point from South Africa to Australia, so to have the support of Ric and his clients is exciting. It’s not easy although there is hope that change will come soon.

“I wasn’t around when this sale was initiated 10 years ago, but I know the vision from the outset was that this would be the gateway from South Africa to the international market. In one sense, this sale was subsidised by the belief that one day, we’d get exports open again. Hopefully, this is another step in that direction and by the time we return here in 2021, there may be further confidence from the international market.”

The Cape Premier Yearling Sale is the world’s only thoroughbred auction held right in a city centre, with 216 yearlings going under the hammer in a temporary ring at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Written by Andrew Hawkins

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