Avontuur Draft Catches the Eye at Cape Premier Yearling Sale 2015


Cape Town International Convention Centre

22 - 23 January 2015

When Pippa Mickleburgh first arrived at Avontuur Stud, situated at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains 25 years ago, she had no idea that she was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime writes Thoroughbred scribe Liesl King in the Thoroughbred Daily News. Though if she understood the local language, Afrikaans, she might have had an inkling of what lay in store: Avontuur translates to Adventure.

Those days, the Stud was considered boutique by comparison to the rest of the Western Cape stud farms with only eight mares and no resident stallion. Today Mickleburgh is home to 47 broodmares, two top sires in Var (Forest Wildcat) and Oratorio (Danehill), around 150 hectares of vineyards and an award-winning winery. The broodmare band at Avontuur is not what anyone would consider large, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in quality, and their 2015 Cape Premier Yearling Sale draft is considered to be one of the standout drafts of the sale.

Conducted by the Cape Thoroughbred Sale Company (CTS), the Cape Premier Yearling Sale is in its fourth year and while the consignors initially found it challenging to prepare horses this early in the year, they have certainly mastered the art.

Of the 13 yearlings consigned by Avontuur, six are by resident stallion Var, who to this day is the most expensive horse in training ever to be purchased for stud in South Africa. Reigning champion sprint sire and the sire of recently crowned joint-third best horse in the world, Variety Club, Var produces consistently beautiful horses capable of performing up to a mile.

The standout of the Avontuur draft and a Var of course, is Lot 32, the first foal out of multiple Group winning mare River Jetez (Jet Master). Winner of the G1 J&B Met at home, River Jetez also embarked on a successful international campaign, which included a victory in the G2 Balanchine Stakes in Dubai, runner-up efforts in the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup and the G1 Dubai Duty Free Stakes as well as a third in the GI Beverly D. Stakes.

Mickleburgh considers her colt to be an exceptional individual.

“He is medium sized and while I would have loved him to be 2cm taller, one has to remember that he is a first foal,” she commented. “I couldn’t be happier with him and I think he will be an early individual. He has that star quality, that x-factor.”

Another yearling that has attracted a considerable amount of interest is Lot 200, a chestnut colt by G1 Dubai Duty Free Stakes hero Jay Peg (Camden Park) out of the South African stakes-placed Argentinian-bred mare Muamba (Pure Prize).

“He will be the last horse in the ring Friday night, but he is a really smart individual. He moves beautifully with a lovely elastic stride,” explained Mickleburgh. “Of course we are fortunate to able to offer a half sister to the star 3-year-old filly, Cold As Ice (lot 79). Being by Trippi, who currently tops the South African sire log, she is a quality individual and is likely to be very precocious.”

Cold As Ice recently cantered home lonely in the G2 Sceptre Stakes over 1200 meters, winning easily by 2 1/4 lengths and is the current favourite for the 1600-meter G1 Majorca Stakes on the J&B Met undercard at Kenilworth 31 January. Hence buyers have been queuing to have a look at her half-sister named Live Life.

A Majorca winner herself, Avontuur’s star broodmare, Sarabande (Goldmark), has a filly, by sire of the moment Dynasty, on offer as Lot 37. The 15 September foal is a half-sister to four winners from five to race, including MGSW Chesalon (Fort Wood), SW La Volta (Var) and G1SP Valeta (Var).

“She is an outstanding physical specimen, but will be more of a classic horse”, Mickleburgh says.

Sire of 2014 Horse of the Year and G1 Vodacom Durban July winner Legislate and superstar racemare Beach Beauty, Dynasty’s offspring are all the rage and seem to get better and better as they get older.

The Avontuur draft has been beautifully prepared and Mickleburgh attributes it to taking the time needed, while catering to each individual yearling’s needs without being too intrusive.

“You need to allow them to still be horses,” she suggests. “Ours grow up in large paddocks and locking them up in a stable would have a detrimental effect. So I work around that. You have to watch the colts, as they tend to play rough, and therefore I had several large rings built, where the colts can be close to each other, with enough space to run, but without the danger of injuring one another.”

The rest of Avontuur’s yearlings will be consigned at the CTS March Sale and the Bloodstock South Africa National Yearling Sale in April, but for now the spotlight is firmly on their outstanding draft of 13 yearlings that can be viewed daily at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, in the heart of the city.

2 C Varational Var National Seeker E6
32 C Rivarine Var River Jetez E4
37 F Don’t Stop Dancing Dynasty Sarabande D3
77 F She’s a Giver Philanthropist Valeta D34
79 F Live Life Trippi Viva D28
80 F Spice Girl Var Viva La Belle D29
89 F A Woman’s Way Var A Daughter’s Legacy D31
117 F Gratuity Dynasty Count the Cash D32
120 C Varonella Var Devonella E5
158 C Attenborough Western Winter In Camera E1
171 C Le Harve Var La Normandie E3
191 F Keep the Faith Bold Silvano Menorah D30
200 C Jika Jay Peg Muamba (Arg) E2