A TREMOR is rumbling under the apparently serene grassy paddocks of Robertson, Colesberg and Nottingham Road.

A seismic shift in the tectonic plates of the thoroughbred breeding industry has re-shaped the landscape that our ponies gallop across.

In plain language, a good old marketing punch-up is in full swing and new racehorse sales are popping up all over the place.

If anyone doubts the “kick-up-the-bum” effect of a free market and fierce competition, a quick look at this melee should set them right.

The ancient régime, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, was stirred from somnolence two years ago when Cape Thoroughbred Sales was established with support from leading owners Markus Jooste and Chris van Niekerk.

Everyone shined up.

Then, last month, a spat over conditions for the Ready To Run Sale between the TBA and Summerhill Stud, the brains and brawn behind the sale, upset the applecart.

The latter withdrew its large draft of horses from the upcoming auction, knocked on CTS’s door and set up a rival sale.

Rubbing in salt, sponsor Emperors Palace switched allegiance and a rival race for sales graduates was announced, with a competing mega-prize.

A seismic shift in the tectonic plates of the thoroughbred breeding industry has re-shaped the landscape that our ponies gallop across. In plain language, a good old marketing punch-up is in full swing and new racehorse sales are popping up all over the place.

Yesterday, the TBA delivered its own haymaker: A brand new yearling sale in Western Cape, muscling in on CTS territory.

As a buyer, you’re scratching your head.

Last week there were breeze-up gallops at Durbanville for horses on the Lanzerac CTS Cape Ready To Run Sale, held at the weekend with 166 lots fetching 50% more than last year. On Monday, there’ll be gallops at Turffontein in Johannesburg for the CTS Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, on Thursday gallops at Yellow Star Stud in Mooi River for the TBA Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, and on Friday gallops at Summerhill in Mooi River for the CTS Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale.

On Friday October 31, the CTS Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale will be held at Inanda Club in Johannesburg, on Saturday November 1 the R3.8-million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup will be run at Turffontein and on Sunday November 2 the Emperors Palace TBA Ready To Run Sale will take place at TBA headquarters in Germiston.

The date and venue for the new R2.5-million 2015 Emperors Palace CTS Ready To Run race haven’t been announced yet, but an expired contract means Emperors Palace won’t be sponsoring either the 2015 TBA Ready To Run Sale or the TBA Ready To Run Cup — which means there won’t be any confusion.

We’ve heard of the merits of crucibles and melting pots, but this soup is looking distinctly sludgy.

South Africa’s horse market is small, so someone might get hurt.

But if we believe in the cleansing and healing powers of the market, a sleeker, more efficient set-up will surely emerge.

In the meantime I’m enjoying perusing all my shiny new sales catalogues and brochures. My diary looks a mess though.

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