The Very Beginning
Varsfontein Stud was started by Anthony Kalmanson in 1974. An enthusiastic owner and amateur rider, Tony rode in races in England, South Africa and Rhodesia, and he won the first South African Steeplechase on Thunder Peel in 1969. A leading buyer at the National Yearling Sales his top racehorses included Attila, Top Brass and the fillies Indira (Paddock Stakes), Kendal Green (Fillies Guineas) and Singing Winds (Clairwood Free Handicap). With his top fillies retiring to stud, Tony bought Varsfontein – a wine farm near Paarl, and his friend and riding adversary Hennie de Jager became the manager. The farm still sends grapes to the nearby Perdeberg Winery but horses are the primary concern.
The very first yearling sold by Varsfontein was Kings Rhapsody, a son of Singing Winds who won ten races for Laurie and Jean Jaffee including the Smirnoff. Other Grade 1 winners produced by the stud include Jumpup and Kissme, Enchanting (and also the dam of Champion Harry’s Charm), This England, Marie Galante and Tickets and Tax. Champions born and raised at Varsfontein include Young Rake and Spook Express.
Mexico II (GB) was the first stallion to make Varsfontein his home. He was Champion Sire of 2 year olds in 1979/80 and 1980/81. As the sire of Champion Sire Harry Hotspur and a leading broodmare sire, he mad a huge impact on the breed in South Africa. Fair Season (GB), imported by Sir Mordaunt Milner in 1982 is now in retirement. A very well-supported stallion, he sired Jungle Warrior, Tickets and Tax, La Mancha, Turbo Star, London Season, etc. Caesour (USA), selected for Varsfontein by Alexandra Scrope, arrived in 1996 and his first crop made an exciting debut on the tracks in 1999/2000. His first crop include Classic winner Caughtintheslips and graded stakes placed runners Diplomat and Caesars Warrior plus Hail Caesour and Emperors Dance.
The Second Generation
Tony Kalmanson died in 1979 and Hennie de Jager retired in 1988. Varsfontein Stud is now managed by Carl de Vos and his wife Amanda, and is owned by Mette (Tony’s widow) and her three children John, Susan and Monique.
Daughters and grand-daughters of the two Foundation Mares Indira and Kendal Green still grace Varsfontein’s paddocks, indeed pride of place goes to Marie Galante (Mexico II – Indira) – dual grade 1 winner. Since the 1970’s, the stud has imported mares to upgrade local stock. These include Lyshaan (UK stakes placed by Ahonoora from the family of Jungle Cove and dam of Cowabunga and Thingumajig), Riding Light (by Topville from the Queen of Light family and dam of Dacha),Oak Fly (by Woodman), etc.