Industry Press

Swapped Mare Produces A Horse Of The Year

Scribblin’ The Cat might have begun believing she was a nomad mare after being moved around the country a number of times in her first couple of breeding seasons.

Owner and part-time breeder Mike Jolly was a member of the syndicate who raced this Brett Warren-trained one-time winning filly by Badger’s Drift.

She only raced four times and won the last of those races, a Maiden over 2000m at Turffontein, despite starting odds of 33-1.

Jolly was keen to breed with Scribblin’ The Cat, but the other syndicate members didn’t share his enthusiasm.

Jolly is a great friend of Gary Player’s and consequently approached his stud manager at the time, Guy Murdoch.

Murdoch agreed to a swap. He would take over the breeding share of Scribblin’ The Cat and in turn give Jolly’s partners a gelding he had in training.

This gelding was transferred to Warren’s yard and went on to win a couple of races.

Meanwhile, Scribblin’ The Cat was transported to The Gary Player Stud farm.

Jolly and Murdoch sent her to Dynasty, who was standing for just R10,000, a far cry from the massive fee he was soon to command as one of the most sort after stallions in the country.

Murdoch then took up a new position as manager of Koos and Lorraine de Klerk’s Yellow Star Stud in Mooi River. Scribblin’ The Cat went with him and gave birth to a colt on that farm.

Then came an offer Murdoch could hardly refuse… to manage Bridget Oppenheimer’s Mauritzfontein Stud.

Scribblin’ The Cat accompanied him again, this time with a foal at foot.

The colt was thus conceived in Colesberg, born in Mooi River and raised in Kimberley.

After being nurtured at one of the country’s premier stud farms, he fetched R500,000 at the National Yearling Sales and was now the property of high profile owners Jack Mitchell, Ian Longmore and John Freeman.

The colt was called Venia, a name that none of the connections liked.

Mitchell’s daughter Nancy cleverly arrived at a new name, Futura, a font type designed in 1927 which was known at the time as “the typeface of today and tomorrow”. The name not only related well to “Scribblin’” but also to “Dynasty” due to its “past and future” connotations.

The rest is history as Futura went on to become an Equus Horse Of The Year.

Nancy recalled Futura’s most memorable trait, his devastating turn of foot.

She said, “My Dad always used to say ‘Watch Futura’ as he would always be behind so it was difficult to keep track of him and he would then just explode out of the pack, You could hardly believe a horse was capable of such acceleration!”

Futura was brought on steadily by trainer Brett Crawford and after avoiding the classics and finishing third in the Vodacom Durban July he ended his three-year-old season by winning the Grade 1 Champions Cup.

He peaked the following season and did the prestigious L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and J&B Met double.

Jack Mitchell, one of South Africa’s most respected owners, always favoured the weight for age events, or those that were close to it, and that Cape Town double meant an enormous amount to him.

Nancy described the surreal feeling of winning such races.

Futura was moved mid-season to Justin Snaith after Drakenstein Stud bought a share and he later retained his Champions Cup crown after a commendable fourth in the July with top weight.

Futura now stands at Drakenstein and is as relaxed today as he was as a racehorse.

His first crop are two-year-olds and he has produced one winner from a handful of runners.

Brett Warren is not surprised Scribblin’ The Cat produced such a good horse as he held her in high regard.

Warren in fact purchased her sire Badger’s Drift at the National Yearling Sales for R500,000, the second highest priced horse of that year. He is the most expensive horse he has ever bought and was owned by the brothers Doctors Albert and Jan Steyn.

However, the Steyns later moved him to Geoff Woodruff for whom he won three Grade 1s in succession, the SA Classic, the SA Derby and the Daily News 2000.

Warren set out to look for one of Badger’s Drift’s progeny at the Sales and came across Scribblin’ The Cat.

He said any horse he bought had to be exceptional and had to move very athletically. She passed that criteria and had a good pedigree too, being out of a Western Winter mare who was a half-sister to the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes winner Angelina. So, when she went through the ring unsold he approached breeder Wilfred Koster and landed her for R60,000.

He recalled, “You always have to take notice of a horse who keeps on improving. I fancied her to win the Oaks.”

Warren had her entered in a lead up race and she put up a tremendous final gallop.

However, just after he had said, “She won’t get beaten” she returned limping. She had sustained a knee injury and despite an operation was destined to never race again.

Warren continues to look out for Scribblin’ The Cat’s family and already has a Futura in his yard.

by David Thiselton, Gold Circle Racing