Ipi Tombe, which means "where are the girls?" in Xhosa, was bred in Zimbabwe by Peter J. Moor, the chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of Zimbabwe. She was born at his Golden Acres farm in the Marondera district on October 10, 1998, one of only 468 Thoroughbreds foaled in Zimbabwe that year. She was sired by Manshood (an unraced but regally-bred son of Mr. Prospector out of the champion mare Indian Skimmer) and produced from the Dance in Time mare, Carnet de Danse.
Because of the political upheaval in Zimbabwe and the rapidly declining economy, Ipi Tombe sold for a paltry ZIM $20,000 as a yearling at the annual Zim Nation sale in Harare, the equivalent of thirty US dollars at the time (yes, only $30.00). She was purchased by 4 Zimbabweans, S. Tomlinson, D. Coleman, R. E. Davenport, and H. W. Leyenaar.
Ipi did not race at age 2, but began her career as three year-old, trained
by Noelene Peech, the leading Zimbabwe trainer. Ipi ran five times in
Zimbabwe at Borrowdale, a track near the capital city, Harare, winning
four and finishing second in the other. She was then sent to South Africa
in search of stronger competition and to escape the the growing turmoil
Ipi Tombe was lucky to escape when she did. By 2002, Zimbabwe Thoroughbred farms were under attack by the government, and by 2003, the breeding and racing industry there was mostly destroyed. Please read the three articles I've copied below. They are eye-opening and heart-breaking.
The following article was published in The Blood-Horse about the situation in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Horse Farms Under Attackby: Lenny Shulman 8/21/02
At a time when the mare Ipi Tombe becomes the first Zimbabwe-bred imported
to North America, the horses remaining in her native land face injury
and slaughter due to a government land grab.
Peter Moor, the breeder of Ipi Tombe and the chairman of the Zimbabwe Thoroughbred Breeders Association, has moved off his farm and relocated to South Africa for the time being. He told Bruss that militia members last week demanded his stud manager leave the property, and then subsequently beat horses, with three mares aborting. Ipi Tombe's dam is located on the farm.
The majority share of Ipi Tombe has been purchased by North American interests, with WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., taking a 50% stake, Team Valor 25%, and the remaining 25% staying in South African hands. Ipi Tombe, who currently is in South Africa, has won four graded stakes races there from five starts. She is being pointed for next year's Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I), after which she will come to America and the shedrow of Elliott Walden.
"In regard to the horse racing and breeding industry, we are seeing the decimation of a proud and successful industry," said Bruss. "What will happen to the breeders? Their horses?"
Moor, a prominent lawyer, said many of his farms have been seized by the Mugabe government. Next year's foal crop in the country will be roughly 50% of what it was just three years ago. Another farmer, Terry Ford, was murdered, and his band of mares had to be humanely destroyed by the SPCA after the horses had been starved and abused, according to a report in the Sporting Post.
And from the Zimbabwe Situation website, an article published in late 2001 or early 2002 from Zim Independent:
Eviction notice death knell for horse-racing
The Commercial Farmers' Union this week said the notice was one of many
that were being issued throughout the country to the few remaining commercial
"It's a big blow to the whole industry," Moor said. "Armitage has been one of the most successful breeders with a history dating back over 20 years." Moor said Armitage had been producing around 40 horses a year. "Some of the horses he produced include Grand Challenge winners such as Match-Winner, Stay Alert and the Toss," he said. Moor said over 75% of the horse-breeders in the country had been forced off their farms, putting the whole industry on the brink of collapse.
"Around seven out of 30 breeders throughout the country are still operational," he said. He said the number of horses brought onto the market over the past three years had dropped as the farmers were being chased off their properties. "This year we sold a mere 180 horses instead of a yearly average of between 400 and 500 horses," he said. The thoroughbred breeding industry was producing some 400 foals annually from a breeding population of roughly 700 mares and 30 plus stallions expensively imported from South Africa and Europe.
"Of those 400 foals, approximately 75 would be entered for the annual
sale, whilst the rest were raced or leased privately," Peter Lovemore,
Lovemore said the effects were now impacting disastrously upon the racing
industry where the number of horses in training had dipped well below
"This effectively means that the Mashonaland Turf Club and various
owners must expend vast sums of money importing jockeys from South Africa
Another bit from the Zim Independent, this one an empassioned letter written by Zimbabwe horse racing personality Peter Lovemore in 2003:
Horse-breeding industry destroyed, future grim
ROBERT Mugabe, sir, in the vain hope that you might possibly sneak away from your "minders" for a quiet moment and read this letter, not to mention the even vainer hope that you will actually care, let me lay before you the facts concerning the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in our land, Zimbabwe, in this desperate year, 2003. Last Friday, May 16, in the Nelson Mandela Hall at Exhibition Park, 185 yearling colts and fillies, the smallest number offered in a decade or more, were offered for auction by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of Zimbabwe at their 33rd annual sale.
Turnover soared by some 500% over last year's sale to $800 million. On the surface this would seem to be good news, but closer analysis reveals that this is not really the case.
In May 2002, when the South African rand was trading on the streets at approximately $40, turnover at this sale reached $167 million - ie around R4 million. Last week, as the economy in our country continued on its precipitous decline, the rate was anywhere between 200 and 250.
Charitably-speaking, then, we were no further forward in real terms than we were a year ago, and at the maximum rate we had actually regressed.
Inflation and the seemingly uncontrollable devaluation of the national currency unit put this year's "record" sale in perspective and give little cause for cheer.
What is cause for alarm, however, is the diminution in the numbers of horses being bred in Zimbabwe and the implication that this has for the future of a leisure and sporting industry that has existed here for 110 years.
Allow me to explain, in clear and succinct terms.
Ten years ago, the thoroughbred breeding industry, part of agriculture in that most breeders were, and are, farmers, was producing some 400 foals annually from a breeding population of roughly 700 mares and 30-plus stallions, most of the latter expensively imported from SA and abroad.
Of those 400 foals, approximately 75 would be entered for the annual sale, whilst the rest were to be raced/leased privately. A small number would be exported, some would die or break down before getting to the races and roughly 250 new horses were coming into racing each new season. The whole business, in the early 90s, was booming.
Today, thanks to your "land reform" programme and your government's otherwise interesting approach to national administration, the breeding industry has been all but destroyed and the future looks grim.
Breeding stock numbers have fallen to an all-time low as mares have either been destroyed, in some cases by the peasants who have invaded farms, or exported to economically and physically safer countries in the region.
The stallion band, a pillar of any successful industry, is also at an historical nadir in terms of numbers and, more importantly, quality.
The effects of all of this are now impacting disastrously upon the racing industry where the number of horses in training has dipped well below the marginal line of requirement. Ten years ago, when we had all been deceived into thinking that you and your government had the interests of our nation at heart, this country boasted a healthy breeding industry, as explained earlier in this letter, two racecourses, a resident colony of some 22 jockeys and 700 plus horses in training spread between at least 30 trainers.
Today, sir, the number of horses in training has halved; no more than half a dozen jockeys actually live here anymore for all the obvious reasons, which means that the Mashonaland Turf Club and various owners must expend vast sums of money importing jockeys from SA and Mauritius; there are no more than a dozen trainers operating here and that number continues to decline and, since the closure of Bulawayo racing in 2001, only Borrowdale Park remains active in staging live horseracing. In other words, the whole complex edifice of the thoroughbred industry is now in the classic stages of pre-closure. It is almost impossible to see how horseracing can survive the depradations of your policies.
To add ultimate insult to injury, this is the year of Ipi Tombe, the world champion filly now based in America who graduated from the Harare sale ring in 2000 and has conquered all before her locally, in South Africa and, latterly, in Dubai. She will continue to do the same in America. The farm on which she was bred, Golden Acres in Marondera, has become virtually inoperable thanks to militant land invasions. So, the proudest moments in the history of breeding and racing in this country have also become the saddest.
Like every other industry, the breeding of racehorses requires finesse, expertise, capital and, more than anything else, hope for the future. Right now there is no hope, and soon we will neither breed nor race the thoroughbred in this country. This, sir, is what you and your government have done to something beloved by so many for so long.
On to South Africa