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Basie and Suzette Viljoen’s Gold Rush Options

Negotiations will be taking place in the camp of leading owners Basie and Suzette Viljoen this festive season. Their two WSB Gold Rush prospects, Royal Aussie (Royal Mo) and Stratospheric (What A Winter), will be the subject of discussions and Suzette joked: “I think talks may get quite spirited!”

Here is the thing: Basie holds the 4th Prospector’s Ticket to the R7,5-million race at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on 28 January, but Suzette and her partners own the 97-rated Royal Aussie, the original Gold Rush log leader and still in the Top 6. Suzette is the outright owner of Stratospheric, rated 85 and is also in with a chance of making the final field.

Suzette commented: “I am not so sure at this point whether we will have to negotiate with Basie or whether he will come to us. Either way we are hoping to have a runner in the family, and if it is Royal Aussie my partners Dr Jill Warner and Dane Squance will share in the excitement.”

Royal Aussie was originally pinhooked at the 2021 Cape Premier Sale by Grant Knowles and then sold at the Ready To Run Sale. Suzette recalls: “I liked him, he was a beautiful strong colt and I asked Sue Snaith to give me her opinion. She confirmed that he looked the part so we bought him. I had Dr Jill Warner at my table that day, she was keen on him too and asked if she could buy in. We don’t often race with partners but this was a special occasion.

“Then, after the sale, Dane Squance phoned from Australia to ask if he too, could take a share. He liked the colt’s Australian female line. He is out of the Australian-bred Abelia, who also produced one my earlier buys, Angry Warrior (Vercingetorix). We like to follow thoroughbred families. We named him Royal Aussie for his dam, and for Dane’s interest.”

Royal Aussie has always been considered a strong candidate for Gold Rush honours and he topped the log for several weeks following his two wins and three places from five starts. “He had a bout of colic before the Ready To Run Stakes in October and his prep was interrupted, but he still finished less than half-a-length back in third,” Suzette said. “We had discussions with trainer Justin Snaith and we have decided to go via the G1 Cape Guineas into the Gold Rush, with the second race as his main mission. We believe he will do very well over 1600m.”

Stratospheric remains a Maiden after seven runs, but he’s taken good places behind some of the leading lights of his generation so far, including Charles Dickens and Champion Warrior, and should win soon. “We hope he can win before the Gold Rush, so his rating can go up. He’s a good back-up for us, a decent horse,” Suzette said.