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Passion, commitment behind Green Street’s success

Down to business. Justin signs for a GSB purchase.
Down to business. Justin signs for a GSB purchase.

GREEN Street Bloodstock, approaching our third year of business, enjoyed a solid and satisfactory 2016/17 season with 20 winners, which was a 100 percent improvement on the 10 wins posted in 2015/16.

Based on the GSB representatives due to race in the next five months, Justin Vermaak has estimated a further 18 wins for the rest of 2017, starting with One Dimension at the Greyville Polytrack last Saturday. If Justin’s figures are on target they will place GSB well on the road to its best ever season in which the GSB Director has set his goal at 30 winners and, hopefully, a Stakes Race.

The 2016/17 had a variety of highlights, in racing’s true nature a few of them were unexpected. Also hard to predict was the many new partnerships formed, the plenty of travelling to race meetings around the world and sales events in Asia and Australia.

Justin commented: “This is a business in which you have to keep your ear to the ground every day, you have to look out for the best opportunities. If you’re asleep, you lose out. It remains GSB’s aim to purchase or in selected cases, to lease, the best available thoroughbreds available at certain given budgets.

“GSB initially competed at the lower end of the market. We found plenty of bargains there, the likes of Blow In The Box, Trap Lord and Midtown Manhattan, but during the course of this year we started partnering with some of the leading owners so that GSB members involved in such partnerships could have access to thoroughbreds of better quality.

“Spending more doesn’t guarantee that you will find the top horses but it does put us in a bracket where we have a statistically better chance to find a top horses or horses to represent us. We have grown nicely via a combination of cheapies and a few middle-market horses and we’re making headway all the time. GSB has a staunch and growing band of base patrons, most of whom have enjoyed a few winners in partnership already. They’re hungry for more, and we’re keen to find more!

Justin picks the brains of top trainers.
Justin picks the brains of top trainers.

Justin attends most of the auctions in South Africa, sometimes accompanied by GSB ambassador Bernard Fayd’Herbe and often alongside expert trainers, and they look carefully at every lot at the sales. “The only way you can really compare horses and their relative values is if you see each of them individually, a yardstick by which value is measured when they start going through the ring and prices are compared.”

He added: “One never stops learning and sometimes you’ll be spot-on, at other times a bit wayward, but our results show that GSB is on the right track, we’re getting better at what we do. We offer big value as a syndication company with all-in, fixed fees for clients, share options, good communication and initiatives to grow interest.”

Here’s an example of the fine edges and nuances of the game of selecting horses and syndicating them. One of Justin picks at last year’s CTS Ready To Run Sale was Brave Mary, a R40,000 purchase he felt would be hard to sell to GSB shareholders as she was a daughter of unfashionable sire, Brave Tin Soldier.

As it happened trainer Paul Matchett expressed interest at the sale, bought the filly from Justin and went on to win the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship and R550,000 in stakes before she was sold on again to Barry Irwin’s formidable Team Valor International.

“That’s the way things happen,” Justin lamented. “Brave Mary could have been the first stakes winner in GSB’s green-and-black silks but it wasn’t to be. But it was one of our highlights of the year because the industry saw clearly that Green Street Bloodstock is no Mickey-Mouse operation. Brave Mary brought some respect from unexpected quarters and international recognition and that’s been great for us!”

The 2016/17 started with a win by Inga at Scottsville on 14 August. On the same day, Last Outlaw ran on well in the BSA Million Mile, taking second and a R200,000 prize for Green Street Bloodstock owners. Inga won again in February 2017 but Last Outlaw went off the boil in summer, though he came back strongly at the end of the season, rewarding Bernard Fayd’Herbe with his first winner in GSB silks, midway through July 2017.

In the first week of October, Philanthropist filly Miss Malbec, trained by Glen Kotzen, won over 1200m at Durbanville from another GSB filly Midtown Manhattan, in the care of Justin Snaith.
The form was soon franked. Midtown Manhattan, bought for just R40,000 at the CTS Two-Year-Sale in 2015, broke her Maiden at her second attempt at Durbanville midway through October, racing over 1200m. She raced well after that with two places and won again over 1400m at Kenilworth on the last weekend in May, crowing the “Brave Mary” weekend mentioned above.

Miss Malbec herself followed her Maiden win with a quick further success at Kenilworth in November 2016, and later, during the 2017 KZN Champions Season, placed twice in decent company.

Also in November, Justin launched “After GSB” an initiative to ensure that our runners are monitored and cared for when they retire from racing.

“We will be rehoming our horses coming off the track to ensure a happy retirement or perhaps a second career. We hear lip service paid to this important part of the racing industry and we’d like to set an example of actually doing something to ensure that our retired runners get the dignity they deserve when they no longer compete on the track,” he said in a press release. The first two GSB runners retired from racing were Miss Nightingale, who was also our very first winner back on 22 February 2015, and Promising Prospect.

Green Street Bloodstock officially branched out to Singapore in a memorable November to bring our client base a wider range of ownership opportunities and a chance at winning remarkable prize money. The Singapore Turf Club offers a great rebate scheme which really minimises costs. Stakes are substantial and paid within a system that allows owners to break even, and often run at a profit, if they are well managed.

Our first winner in Singapore came on 19 February 2017 when James Peters-trained Deadline Day, ran on powerfully to win a Maiden Plate over 1200m at Kranji . The race prize money was $75,000.

Deadline Day stormed up from a position just off the pace and won going away in a field of 14 runners. He paid out at 53-1 for win and at 10-1 for a place, surprisingly high although the three-year-old wasn’t fancied to win on his debut.

“I am over the moon, it seems my decision to leave the comforts of home more regularly to try make a go of it here was surprisingly met with some ridicule from some quarters which is quite disappointing but the proof is in the pudding and nothing ventured nothing gained, this is just the start,” commented Justin at the time.

In May 2017, GSB had its most winners so far when all of Airtaxi, The Border War, Trap Lord and Midtown Manhattan made the winner’s enclosure.

In June, Justin attended the 2017 Magic Millions Sale in Queensland, Australia, where two further yearlings were purchased for Peters and GSB syndicate members took up the shares. Another soon to race will be Green Mission, in partnership with leading South African owner Marsh Shirtliff.

On the first weekend in July, GSB’s Bernard Fayd’Herbe rode a cracking race on Marinaresco to win the 2017 edition of the Vodacom Durban July. Ma Forte and Kapenta Bay ended things well in July to bring our seasonal tally to 20.

“Green Street has made remarkable strides in a short period of time and we’re a company to be with. We serve the interests of racing with passion and we’re dedicated to make all aspects of syndicated horse ownership a pleasure. It is the future of racing in a very competitive market!” Justin concluded.

Photos by BRENT ABRAHAMS.