Revitalisation through immigrant parents – Turf Talk: 13 November 2017
A couple of weeks ago, this column was devoted to a satirical examination of the consequences of Australia’s dual nationality scandals, if indeed they are scandals, as they might apply to Winx and other racehorses of overseas-bred parentage.
In considering South Africa’s place in the global thoroughbred world – as we often do in this column – I allowed some thoughts to drift along under the heading of overseas parentage in our SA gene pool. There will – indeed must – be more runners of completely overseas parentage in South Africa, with or without export freedoms, imported or bred in SA, as the years go on.
Last week, in amongst a run of good fortune, we won with owner/bred Grandiflora (SAF) trained by Vaughan Marshall and ridden by MJ Byleveld.
Grandiflora (SAF) is relatively unusual, having two immigrant parents. She is by Alado (GB) out of Messila Rose (GB) by the great broodmare sire Darshaan. In fact, she is in-bred to Darshaan which is especially exciting but that’s another story.
In a South African Who’s Who index of prominent racing people and horses with immigrant parents,
Grandiflora, when greatly successful, will find herself right next to Grant Knowles, Klawervlei’s and Tellytrack’s man-about-our-industry with whom she shares her first four letters. (We did not name her with this in mind.)
We did so for Messila Rose and our favourite suite at a hotel named Hintlesham Hall that we owned for about fifteen years which gives its name to our Hintlesham Racing teams. Hintlesham Racing also had a winner on Saturday at Kenilworth as it happens).
Grandiflora and Grant Knowles have plenty that is not in common. One can’t speak and the other one can. Both excel at a sport, but one involves running very quickly and the other does not involve running at all. But they share immigrant parentage. In fact GB parentage all round.
In the days when irritating comments about the England cricket team being full of South Africans were made funny by the joke “Where are the England Team staying on the SA Tour?” “With Mummy and Daddy”, those British people who have family members born all over the place due to “ex-pat” or forces or diplomatic corps residency saw nothing unusual. Our own daughter was born in Japan.’
Grandiflora’s index neighbour’s family stayed in South Africa and so must she unless conjuring up unlikely superstardom on the track or the export walls come tumbling down. Therefore her overseas pedigree will become integrated into the South African stud book, as also through her imported mother, imported auntie, a few half-sisters, two nieces so far and several cousins all in SA.
Some SA breeders have been importing mares for some time. Many stay “in private hands”. Some are for owner/ breeding to race but some soon result in appearances in yearling catalogues. Some have enterprisingly been sold on at CTS Mare Sales with bargains to be had. As generations quickly develop, so will such appearances of overseas pedigrees in catalogues multiply.
The TBA would do well to run courses in overseas pedigrees because there is no large corps of consultants and agents to handle the catalogue research and many of those responsible for buying are fitting the activity into a demanding training schedule as it is. This applies now, with the current export limitations. It would apply even more if freedoms generate greater inflow and outflow of horses and investment.
There are of course many overseas bred stal-lions in South Africa – more (USA) than from anywhere else. There are surprisingly few from (GB) and (IRE) and two very good ones from (GER), all of which could bear analysis. But familiarity with their female lines amongst yearling buyers is not necessarily a priority.
South Africans do not “pile in” to first crop sires in the same way as elsewhere. They tend to wait and see. I generalise of course. Some first crop sires in SA have been “made” by trainers on a budget taking a chance.
But on the whole, the overseas bred sires and many domestic new sires achieve popularity with buyers – if they are going to – by success on the track (in SA, not by success elsewhere) by which time their own pedigrees are less important in any analysis. This is a more cautious -one might say pure – process than the rampant (and exciting) speculation in other markets.
Overseas there is heavy focus on inspecting first crop foals and yearlings to form an opinion whether by experienced judges or youngsters hoping to progress in the industry.
Racing publications at Christmas and the New Year are forever asking bloodstock agents to predict the best first crop sires.
(GB) (IRE) (FR) (GER) and even (USA) are separated only by very blurred lines. The suffixes are incidental technicalities based on where the birth takes place. Mares move around to be covered. Foals are pin-
hooked from country to country. Yearlings are bought to race around the globe.
South Africa may move into that swim, or a swim with different overseas trading partners. We hope that it does and soon. But in any event, there will be a proliferation of fresh pedigrees in our SA catalogues that will bear study.
In a brave and progressive move, the NHRA has employed overseas expertise to work on a Stud Book in dire need of “sorting out” for reasons discussed in other Monday Columns. It will be done. Our SA industry would benefit from more such moves – just a few – to inject fresh blood into the recycling of existing personnel and broaden some horizons.
Thus might younger South Africans see a more vibrant employment opportunity and become our next generation. Thus might more overseas bred humans stay to contribute in South Africa along with the increasing number of overseas bred equines and the sons and daughters of immigrant sires and dams. – tt