One of the Western Cape’s newer stud farms, the magnificent Drakenstein Stud has quickly made its mark on the South African racing and breeding industry.
The farm, which is based just outside of Franschoek, lies on the L’Ormarins wine farm, in the shadow of the Groot Drakenstein mountain range and boosts some of the most magnificent scenery to be found anywhere in South Africa.
Owned by Gaynor and Johann Rupert, Drakenstein also sports some truly magnificent facilities. Amongst them is a pre training track, state of the art boarding facilities, and a magnificent stallion barn and covering shed. It is situated next to the Drakenstein Veterinary Clinic, a state of the arts hospital which provides in house and ambulatory services for companion animals. Sponsored by many of the industry’s bigger players, the Clinic has become a very popular and well supported hospital by many of the Cape’s breeders.
Drakenstein sends its yearlings to be raised in the Karoo, where they are housed at Camdeboo Farm just outside Graff-Reinet. Managed by Dave Hampton, the farm’s yearlings benefit from the rich soil and dry climate of the Karoo and grow into tough and hardy prospects.
Drakenstein, which is managed by Ross Fuller, has already bred a number of top class racehorses. Amongst them are Inara, the winner of this year’s Gr1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes, and fellow Grade 1 winners Afrikaburn and Jeppe’s Reef. The latter was an emotional first Grade 1 win for Drakenstein, when the gutsy gelding powered home to win the 2013 Gold Cup.
Jeppe’s Reef, a son of Jallad, is out of the wonderfully successful Badger Land mare Studio Fifty Four. A former Gr2 Gold Circle Oaks winner, Studio Fifty Four is also the dam of the Drakenstein Stud bred Disco Al – a remarkably versatile gelding, whose victories include a pair of wins in the Gr3 Algoa Cup. Disco Al won his first Algoa Cup on the polytrack, while his second came on turf.
The farm is also home to some of South Africa’s most popular and successful stallions. Trippi, the first sire purchased by Drakenstein, has been a success around the world. His overseas runners include the likes of Gr1 Spinaway Stakes winner R Heat Lightning, as well as the US millionaire Gourmet Dinner and the Breeders Cup placed filly Miss Macy Sue. Trippi, whose offspring have earned more than $50 million worldwide, has been an equal success in South Africa. The sire of the above mentioned Inara, Trippi’s local runners include the high-class Grade 1 performers Afrikaburn, Desert Sheik, For The Lads, Franny, Hammie’s Hooker, Lanner Falcon, One Fine Day, and Ziparana – to mention but a few.
One of South Africa’s greatest champions, Horse Chestnut, is another to call Drakenstein home. The former Triple Crown and J&B Met winner enjoyed success at stud in the US where his runners included the Gr1 winning filly Lucifer’s Stone, and where Horse Chestnut is still enjoying huge success as a broodmare sire. Horse Chestnut’s success has continued at stud in South Africa, where his first crops included the stakes winners Banbury and Chestnut’s Rocket, as well as brilliant Grade 1 contender Rake’s Chestnut.
Trippi and Horse Chestnut were joined by Philanthropist in 2012. A son of Kris S (and thus providing South African breeders with a welcome outcross to the abundant Northern Dancer male line), Philanthropist was a proven sire when arrived at the stud. His small first crop produced a pair of Canadian champions, including classic winner Pender Harbour. Philanthropist’s success continued to rocket since he arrived in South Africa, and he led the US Synthetic Sires List in 2014. Well received in South Africa, Philanthropist’s first local yearlings sell in 2015.
South African bred sires have been enjoying a tremendous run of form, with the likes of Jet Master, Captain Al and Dynasty three of the top sires in the country over the past decade. Drakenstein is home to a pair of locally bred champions – Horse Chestnut and multiple Champion Sprinter What A Winter. One of the very best sons of champion sire Western Winter, and from the family of Hyperion and Sir Tristram, What A Winter has covered some exceptional mares in his first two seasons at stud, and his first foals have arrived to rave reviews.
Most recent addition to the Drakenstein Stud ranks is Duke Of Marmalade. One of the very greatest of Danehill’s sons, the former Cartier Champion won five Group 1 races in a row – and boosts Investec Derby winner Ruler Of The World as a half brother. From the family of champion sires Al Mufti and AP Indy, Duke Of Marmalade ended 2014 as the leading third crop sire in Europe. His numerous top class runners include Star Of Seville – one of the leading contenders for the 2015 Investec Oaks.
Drakenstein also boosts a magnificent band of broodmares, packed with Grade 1 winners and blue blooded producers alike. Amongst the mares found there is the dual Equus Champion Beach Beauty, the earner of over R5 million on the track. The diminutive bay recently tested in foal to Duke Of Marmalade – and Beach Beauty’s first foal’s appearance is widely anticipated both by Drakenstein and by the mare’s legion of fans.
The farm regularly ranks as among the country’s top breeders at the various yearling sales. Drakenstein Stud sold a Captain Al filly for R1.2 million at the recent Cape Premier Yearling Sale, while the stud also acted as agent for a half sister, by Seventh Rock, to recent Guineas winner Act Of War who was knocked down for R1.2 million.
They are also offering six lots, and two more yearlings as agent, at the Val De Vie Yearling Sale. The Drakenstein draft includes a Philanthropist half brother to Afrikaburn (Lot 1), and a Trippi colt out of Gr3 winner Milden Magic – also the second dam of Triple Crown winner Louis The King (Lot 14).