A dream came true for two assistant farm managers at Varsfontein stud farm, Jaco Erasmus and his wife Carolyn, when they sold a thoroughbred colt for R1.5 million at the Bloodstock South Africa (marketing and sales arm of the of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association South Africa) Cape regional sale held at the luxurious Val de Vie Estate in the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley on 14 February 2016.
Their fortunes changed after their prize chestnut colt, named Varlocity, was shown to prospective bidders in the sales ring. Varlocity joined 118 other yearlings on offer at the auction catching the attention of several prospective buyers in the lead up to Sunday’s sale, and there was spirited bidding before the hammer fell the way of Gauteng trainer, Michael Azzie, bidding on behalf of Adriaan van Vuuren’s Misty Meadows operation. The yearling has set a new record for the BSA sale.
Comments Jaco Erasmus: “We were hoping for R800K, so we are really overjoyed about this.” Carolyn explains: “A lot of people were sceptical about us taking him to the sale, but we were confident that a good horse will do well anywhere.”
The buying game
It seems that thoroughbred winners are a Varsfontein trademark and top sellers at the sales: when Jaco was offered retired race horse Star Deputy (Velocity’s dam) in 2008, he jumped at the opportunity. In 2009, he sent the thoroughbred mare to visit internationally acclaimed stallion Victory Moon, producing the Grade 1 winning War Horse who fetched R275K at the 2011 BSA Cape Premier Yearling Sale. Star Deputy’s next foal, also a colt, but this time by Black Minnaloushe, sold for R225K at the BSA’s 2012 National Yearling Sale and went on to become a 5-time winner. In 2011, Star Deputy was matched to Judpot, producing the mighty Deputy Jud who sold at the 2013 BSA National Yearling Sale, going on to win the 2015 Supreme Cup for owner Adriaan van Vuuren and his trainer Michael Azzie.
A special horse from day one
While stud management jobs may not be the most glamorous, perks like working outdoors and the opportunity to supplement your income by breeding your own horses have served Jaco and Carolyn well. With the money saved up from the sales of their yearlings, Jaco and Carolyn booked Star Deputy to Var, one of South Africa’s top sprint stallions and 11 months later, Varlocity was born.
Comments Jaco: “Varlocity is a great, big bull of a horse. He weighed 62 kilograms at birth and from the moment he got up, there was just something about him. With some horses you just know.” Jaco and Carolyn had the choice between offering the colt at the Cape Thoroughbred Sales Book 1 or the Val de Vie sale and chose to stick with the TBA. It seems their loyalty has been richly rewarded. Comments TBA/BSA Chairperson Susan Rowett: “Although the market was tough, there was strong competition for good horses, and overall we are satisfied with the prices they realised.”
The couple studied equine sciences at the Pretoria University of Technology together and spent a year working at the prestigious Cheveley Park Stud Farm in Newmarket in the UK. On their return to South Africa, they spent several years working at the award-winning Lammerskraal Stud in Ceres, before joining Varsfontein, where they have been for nine years.
Comments Carolyn: “Varlocity was a very special horse to us, he just had a one-of-a-kind character. We only want what’s best for him and believe that he will go on to be a success like his brothers. Star Deputy currently has a Duke of Marmalade filly foal at foot, and at this stage we intend on keeping her so that we can retain this special bloodline. Star Deputy is in foal to resident stallion, Gimmethegreenlight. The old girl is getting on, so in our mind every foal we get is a bonus! Whichever way, we consider ourselves ‘heavily’ blessed!”
The couple plan to reinvest their money in horses, while Varlocity currently shares his new home with half-brother Deputy Jud, at Misty Meadows’ trainer Michael Azzie’s training yard.