Durban July…A Salute To Australian-breds?


Bloodstock agent, Paul Guy, has dedicated a large chunk of his professional career to convincing South African trainers, owners and fellow agents about the merits of purchasing Australian-bred racehorses.

That job might get a little easier come Saturday when the Duncan Howells trained, Ten Gun Salute lines up in the 2016 Vodacom Durban July Handicap.

One of four Australian-bred horses to make the final field, Ten Gun Salute was purchased by Guy – on behalf of clients – for $A10,000 (approx. R112,000) before being on-sold at the 2014 CTS Ready To Run for R1,150,000.

Since arriving in Howells stable, Ten Gun Salute has produced three wins and two placings from only nine starts and, according to his trainer, is a real contender in Saturday’s big Group One.

“Ten Gun Salute is training on very, very well and and is a sound, quality horse,” Howells enthused. “The 2200m will suit him down to the ground and I think he’s well above average. He gave them too much start in the (Group One) Daily News and I believe he’s an outstanding chance in the Durban July.”

Howells adds that he has a soft spot for Australian bred horses after a previous trip to Australia – for the Perth Magic Millions – which saw him return home with a Second Empire colt for $A17,000 (approx. R191,000).

“I purchased him with Chips Pennells and he won two Group Twos for us (Greyville Betting World and Drill Hall Stakes) and over a million rand.”

Although South African buyers have ventured to Australian yearling sales for the past couple of decades, Guy points out trade has definitely increased in recent years and that approximately 80 to 100 Australian horses are exported to South Africa annually.

“A lot of South African buyers are interested in the European bloodlines: for instance, Ten Gun Salute is by English and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (by Kingmambo), but our ‘colonials’ are definitely starting to make more inroads.

“A good example is a stallion like Magic Albert who has four winners in South Africa including the Group One winner in Fighting Warrior, plus the multiple stakes winner Suyoof.

“Not a Single Doubt is another Australian-based stallion who is enjoying considerable success … his only two runners in South Africa are both winners and include the dual stakes winner, Castlethorpe.

“Australian-bred horses make up only around 3% of the South African racing population, but punch well above their weight. Recent years have seen champions like Horse of the Year Igugu, who won the Durban July in 2011, champion 2YO colt, Harry’s Son, champion 2YO filly, Majmu, last season’s champion 2YO filly, Entisaar, and champion 3YO filly, Alboran Sea. It’s important to point out that Igugu only cost $A65,000 (approx R732,000) but went on to become one of the greatest fillies ever to race in South Africa, winning four Group Ones.

“And this season the trend is continuing. New Predator won a Group Two, so too did Fursa. Ma Chox, Tiger’s Touch, Sugartube, Muwaary and Suyoof are all Group winners, and what about Ovidio, a Group Two winner and Listed winner, who cost only $A30,000 (approx R338,000) at the Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney where the sale average is around $A280,000 (R3,155,000).

“Meanwhile, last Saturday night at Kenilworth, Australian-bred horses filled all three placings in the Group Three Lagerman Stakes – Table Bay, Our Mate Art and Newlands – while 3YO filly, Chevauchee was successful for the second time in a month at black type level when she won the Ladies Mile.

“And don’t forget Mac de Lago …”

Trainer Weiho Marwing will be hoping that no-one in South Africa will forget Mac de Lago after Saturday.

The lightly raced 4YO takes his place in the Durban July fresh from a Group One victory in the Greyville Gold Challenge on 11 June and Marwing is confident that Mac de Lago will be right in it at the business end.

“He (Mac de Lago) is probably better suited over a mile, but he has plenty of heart and I think that will allow him to get over the trip (2200m).”

Mac de Lago was purchased from the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for just $A65,000 (approx R732,000) by South African-born, Australian based bloodstock agent, James Bester and, underscoring the opportunities for the astute buyer, Mac de Lago is by one of Australia’s most successful sires in the past two decades in Encosta de Lago.

Understandably, Marwing now holds Australian-bred horses in high regard: “I was in Australia two years ago and I really like them as types. It’s just my opinion, but I believe they are a lot bigger and stronger and good pedigrees too.”

The other Australian-bred entries for the 2016 Vodacom Durban July are Sean Tarry’s Samurai Blade and the Joey Ramsden trained, The Conglomerate.

Samurai Blade is yet to win at stakes level but was placed in both the Group One South African Classic and Group One South African Derby in April, while The Conglomerate was a dual Group Two winner in South Africa in 2015.

The Power of Passion