MK’s Pride to stud at Heversham Park

MK’s Pride to stud at Heversham Park

MK’s Pride, the Grade 1 winning entire by Willow Magic, will become the first black-owned horse to take up stallion duties when he retires to stud at Advocate Nigel and Kat Riley’s Heversham Park Farm in Gauteng this week.

The popular chestnut will turn seven years old when the 2024 breeding season starts in August, and exits the racetrack with an accomplished record of 10 wins and 9 places from 35 runs, and R2,7-million banked for his original owner, Koos Nkale.

MK’s Pride will stand for Nkale and his new partner, Stinky Pooe, another black owner who has had remarkable success in recent years. Both are committed to transformation, future investments in the sport of horseracing and promoting racing widely for more diverse participation.

There’s a compelling story behind all thoroughbred champions. Nkale, who had no previous experience at ownership level, acquired MK’s Pride in a private deal from Summerhill Stud. He recalled, “I’ve been a punter for over 30 years. In February 2020, I decided to buy my first racehorse. At the time, Michael Mahlakola was South Africa’s only black trainer, and I approached him for advice. During a visit to Summerhill farm, Michael spotted a beautiful, strong young chestnut. He couldn’t take his eyes off the colt and told me this was the one worth buying as my first investment.

“I phoned Summerhill Stud an made an offer but it was rejected, so we were disappointed. They wanted to take the unnamed colt to an auction sale and felt that he could fetch a higher price. But he passed unsold and a month later they accepted my offer for R100,000.”

Nkale quipped: “I named him MK’s Pride, which will sound quite strange today considering what is going on in our political arena. But he was named after me. My names are Madimetja and Koos. People prefer Koos because it’s easier to pronounce. So, the horse became MK’s Pride. Michael never trained him, but he deserves credit for spotting him among many others in the Summerhill Paddocks.”

Nkale, a geography teacher before his retirement, said he was excited about his venture into breeding. “I feel we have gone to the right farm, I like Mr Riley. And I am happy to be involved with Mr Pooe. We share the same ideals. I believe in the future of South Africa, now more than ever. As a nation I truly believe we are able to set differences aside and carry on with the task of building a strong country. This is good for racing too.”

Reflecting on his teaching days, Nkale said, “If you found geography or mathematics difficult at school, you probably had the wrong teachers. It’s the same with newcomers to racing. With the right advice and leadership, they will love it.”

Nkale acknowledged the synergy between himself and other prominent black individuals in racing. “My favourite soccer team is Kaizer Chiefs, hence my silks are black and gold. Through racing, I met Kaizer Motaung’s daughter Jessica Motaung, who is the marketing director for Chiefs. She has also learned to love racing, so we have much in common. Racing opens doors that would otherwise remain closed.”

Pooe, who owns the SA Derby winner and 2024 Durban July hopeful Purple Pitcher, says his new association with MK’s Pride marks his own first venture into breeding. His future plans include standing Purple Pitcher at stud due to his impressive track performances and his status as perhaps the best son of the ill-fated New Predator.

“MK’s Pride gives me a chance to start the breeding adventure. I will be supporting him with my mares coming off the racetrack,” said Pooe. His best mare so far has been Miss Daisy (Crusade), winner of the 2022 Grade 3 Starling Stakes.

Pooe and Jessica Motaung are discussing forming syndicates to attract young, black owners to racing. Pooe hopes that new political developments will lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth, allowing more people from black communities to participate in racing.

Nkale and Pooe realise that breeding is not for the faint-hearted and that all stallions start off with only a small chance of making it. But in MK’s Pride they have a Grade 1 winning grandson of Dubawi, the most successful British-based stallion in history and the fastest ever British-based sire to produce 100 individual Group winners. Aside from Willow Magic, Dubawi has only one other son, Erupt, standing in South Africa.

Former champion trainer Paul Peter, who saddled MK’s Pride to nine of his 10 career wins, believes the horse has the right physical and mental attributes to make the grade as a stallion. He said: “MK’s biggest asset was his temperament. He loved to race, enjoyed his work with his head in his chest and always tried his best. He is a strong, sound horse who always ate up and kept his condition. We will be sending him some of our race mares coming off the track.”

Nigel Riley commented: “Heversham has always been on the forefront of transformational development and we are very proud and privileged to have been selected by his owners to stand MK’s Pride. He is a speedy grandson of the mighty Dubawi, and he relished our local racing conditions. MK is a well-balanced, tough individual with great legs. Unlike many stallions, he raced over 30 times and his wins included the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut stakes and the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes as a three-year-old.

“According to the pedigree experts, Mk is a great, versatile cross, particularly for Mr Prospector, Danzig, Blushing Groom and Storm Cat line mares. Most importantly, he represents a significant step in South African racing and breeding history in that he is the first entirely black owned stallion to stand at stud in this country. It is a well-established fact that SA racing needs to diversify, and MK presents a wonderful opportunity for breeders to take active action and not just pay lip service to achieving diversity.”

Mk’s Pride will stand at a fee of R5000 consisting of a R2000 nomination fee and R3000 payable upon sale of the yearling, alternatively on 1 May two years after the foal is born. In other words, breeders   will only pay the balance of his stud fee for foals born in 2025 on 1 May 2027. Contact Kat Riley on 071 133 8133.