We held our annual Stallion Day on Friday afternoon on the warmest day Mooi River has seen in some weeks since the recent heavy snowfalls. The day saw an excellent turnout of prominent trainers and breeders from across the board, warmly welcomed by Warwick and Karin Render. Guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Karin had laid out a stunning starter table which saw everyone tucking into delicious prawns with drinks in hand and a warm and relaxed atmosphere, under the beautiful trees and weather.
Our guests included Grant Knowles from Klawervlei Stud and Dr Ian Heyns, breeder of the recent Gr 2 winner Seal, who flew up for the day.
Grant Knowles commented that it was great to see everyone from across the equine industry gathering not only to view stallions, but to socialise and enjoy each other's company and that it would be great to see it happen more often.
We welcome King's Chapel's first South African crop of foals for the season, along with first season sire Curved Ball(AUS) and the recently relocated Kahal(GB).
Karin said they were overwhelmed at the response they had received from breeders with requests to come through to the stallion day and view the stallions - in particular the drawcard - Curved Ball(AUS) who was first in the magnificent line-up.
Warwick welcomed the guests, saying: "Thank you so much for taking time out, especially at this time of the year, to join us here today. It is tremendously rewarding to us to see so many of you at relatively short notice and we thank all of you, not only for the effort you have made to be here but for the support you have given to us not only as a stud but as friends too.
"It is an unbelievable privilege and honour for me to stand here today and be able to present to you horses representing two establishments of such international standing as Klawervlei Stud and Shadwell Stud. It is hard to put into words what it means to us to have both of these entities entrust their horses to our care in one year. But I have to add, the only way this could happen is with the support we have received and continue to receive from all of you, our fellow breeders.
The first stallion to arrive was the much-anticipated Curved Ball
that was everything that the breeders expected and more. A tall bay horse, standing at almost 16.2, he is the picture of athleticsm. Having remained in training until quite recently, this young sire is going to let down into an exceptional specimen to match his regal pedigree.
Warwick introduced the stallion, saying: "In Curved Ball who we are introducing you to today, you will see just such an example of support for KZN, for he is available at a ridiculously subsidised rate, so much so that I expressed concern to John Koster that we were underselling the horse horribly. His answer was: 'we want to make him available to the breeders and we want him to get the mares.'
"I would, at this point, mention that I have had calls from three highly-respected Cape Breeders saying that despite the fact that they are spoilt for choice in the Cape, they were very sorry to see this horse come to Kwa-Zulu Natal. So to John and your team thank you. All I will say is WOW!"
Grant Knowles mentioned in his speech that trainer Joey Ramsden had commented after a race that this was the best horse he had ever trained and a serious racehorse. After a tendon injury that resulted in an operation, Curved Ball came back to run a brave third in his first start out after his time off but displayed the urge and courage to try and win again despite his injury.
Curved Ball had three wins and three places from just seven starts - winning the Dingaans Gr 2 and Sea Cottage Stakes Listed, as well as placing in the Tony Ruffel Stakes Gr 3. He finished just three lengths off Shades Of Indigo in the Betting World Merchants Gr 2. In the Dingaans, he defeated the likes of Galileo's Galaxy, Smanjemanje, Bulsara and Galanthus at even weights.
The next Stallion out was The Avalon Stud's Lion Tamer
, another sire in KZN owned by Klawervlei Stud. The young handsome stallion, the first to be represented in KZN by Western Winter, is beautifully put together. He has already had a winner from a handful of horses to race in Lady De Winter, who went onto compete in a Grade 1 race on Vodacom Durban July Day.
With just nine horses to race from his first crop to date, Lady de Winter has won once and placed twice from four starts - a horse that was passed through the 2011 KZN Yearling Sales ring as unsold. Horses that have placed to date include Mighty Lion, Olivealice, Smitten and Tappin' The Stars twice - proof that more than half of his first runners have won or placed.
Lion Tamer is a six-time winner and ran second in the Gr 2 Greyville 1900, Gr 1 J&B Met, Gr 1 Summer Cup and Gr 2 Emerald Cup - showing what a versatile sort he is - from ages 3 - 5. He stands for a fee of R5 000 live foal this season.
Another stallion that the breeders were very keen to view was KZN's champion sire, Kahal(GB)
. As Kahal entered everyone's view in a quiet but very powerful presence, he circled the ring in a gentlemanly fashion with a beautiful brass sheen on his coat. This is a stallion who knows he is something exceptional and commands respect.
A sire of mulitiple Graded Stakes winners of the highest class, including Smanjemanje who finished a close second in the Vodacom Durban July this year, and Bush Hill's own The Mouseketeer, winner of Africa's richest race on sand being the Gr 2 Emerald Cup, Warwick explained most aptly that, "Kahal doesn't need me or anyone else to sell his credentials to you. He finished third on the National Sires Log this last season, beaten by the now-deceased Jet Master and by Silvano, with forty and thirty runners less than these two respectively.
"When we consider that every other horse on the log anywhere near him stands for a fee in excess of R 100 000 and this horse has been kept at R 40 000, it again reiterates my point of the extremes his owners are willing to go to in their continued support of KZN Breeders and breeding.
"In return, as one would have anticipated, your support for Kahal for this season has been outstanding with the only negative being us not being able to accommodate all the requests for services. This has to be the greatest tribute any horse can receive."
Kahal recently relocated to Bush Hill Stud from Summerhill, and Warwick paid tribute to Greig Muir, complimenting Greig on the exceptional condition Kahal had arrived in.
The last stallion to be seen was the magnificent chestnut son of King Of Kings, King's Chapel(AUS)
. An outstanding specimen of a stallion who now has his first foals on the ground, Warwick had this to say: "There are three things about this horse that haven't changed since we introduced him to you last year, and three things that have:
"Firstly the unchanged: his Timeform Rating, he was that good a horse, rated 123. Secondly, he is an international Triple Group 1 winner winning over 1200, 1400 and 1600. And on each occasion he broke the course records. And thirdly, as a Three year old he was New Zealand's Champion Sprinter/miler, Champion Three year Old and Horse of the year. He also happened to be the second highest rated horse in Australasia at the time, just behind Grand Armee who defeated him by a short head in a Gr1 sprint in Australia.
"There are of course many other major positives that haven't changed either, such as him being a grand son of the mighty Sadler's Wells.
"Now three things that have changed. One: His percentage winners to runners on the world stage has continued through the year to improve to the point where currently he sits with a very nearly 50% winner-to-runner ratio on all his crops. In the first two weeks of the season he clocked up four winners, two in New Zealand, one in Australia andone in Singapore. Two: You all saw the value in him after we introduced him to you last year, the result he is now fully syndicated and has covered a book of over 100 mares. Three: We now have his first foals on the ground in South Africa and they are everything we hoped they might be: strong, correct and with great quality.
"I am thrilled to say that he looks like he is well on his way to receiving a very similar book as last year with, if anything, a lot more non-shareholders buying services much earlier."
Warwick said in closing: "For those of us involved in breeding here in KZN, we have to continue to strive to bring in top quality stallions through various means and I would add here that personally, I believe we have a very exciting bunch of young sires in this province. But we also still have establishments like Klawervlei and Shadwell backing us and people like these can and will continue to offer us access to horses that we would not otherwise easily be able to get to and what's more, they are able to offer them at hugely subsidised rates, all we have to do is be grateful, gracious and supportive. We would wish every one of you a successful breeding season and here's to the next crop of KZN champions."
Thank you to everyone who joined us for our stallion day, and we wish you all the best for the coming breeding season.
Check Bush Hill Stud's Facebook page, Bush Hill Stud
, for the gallery of photos of the Bush Hill Stud Stallion Day.
Bush Hill Stud offers incentives to mare-owners who achieve a "20/20" stallion match on G1 Goldmine pedigree software, with the exception of Kahal(GB). Click on the links to each sire's profile to check the mating to your mares.