The Thursday morning prior to the Dubai World Cup meeting is billed as 'Breakfast With The Stars,' and for those up early enough at Meydan there was the chance for breakfast with a rock star. California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) has received this lofty billing from his veteran trainer Art Sherman, and it's a title he wears with ease.
The rising giant of the comparatively modern world of thoroughbred breeding, is undoubtedly Japan. Like the sun in that part of the world, for the past couple of decades, the Japanese racehorse has emerged inexorably from something of a waste product in a forgotten frontier, to a symbol of class wherever racing is taken seriously.
The Golden Slipper Stakes might not stop a nation, but it proved again on Saturday that it is increasingly giving the entire racing world reason to pause. No-one seriously pretends the Slipper has a place in Australia’s sporting psyche like the Melbourne Cup. It has, after all, only been run since 1957, almost 100 years after the first Cup. And its winners, by necessity, are newcomers, mere babies compared to those that line up at Flemington each November.
Ever since his victory in the Todman Stakes (Gr.2), trainer Gai Waterhouse and jockey Tommy Berry had been banging on about the virtues of their Golden Slipper (Gr.1) aspirant, Vancouver; Saturday proved them right. It goes further than that though, particularly if you're tuned into Radio Berry, who's adamant this colt will win both the next two legs of the Juvenile Triple Crown, the Sires Produce (Gr.1) and the Champagne (Gr.1).
There are no half measures when it comes to Australia's Golden Slipper. You're either good enough, or you're not; you're well-bred enough (by which they mean precocious enough) or you're not; and there are no excuses when it comes to the draw. That despite the fact there are nineteen eligible in the world's richest two-year-old race and it's a sprint contested around a bend.
Followers of these columns, and in particular those who hold an affection for Hartford House, will recall the day Hartford earned its place in the world order of top restaurants. The senior food critic at America's leading business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, was among the judges for Eat Out's Top Ten Restaurants, and it was one of his remits to take a plane ride all the way to KwaZulu-Natal to test the offering at what he imagined to be an 'isolated tourist trap' which had had its time. 'Big mistake!', he exclaimed, nominating Hartford in the top three country restaurants on the planet, alongside Sweden's Fäviken and Australia's Royal Mail.
Somewhere, sometime, our boat had to come in. There is little more satisfying for a collector of racehorses, than getting a 'lift' in the days following a sale. It was easy, sitting around the sales ring in Melbourne last week, to feel a bit depressed, knowing that with only Rands to spend, we were competing with currencies from all over the world in a sale that posted new highs in every sphere.
Trainer Mike de Kock is likely to play his two trump cards in the upcoming R2-million SA Classic and R1-million Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic. The two Grade 1 races will be run over 1800m on the Turffontein standside track on Saturday 28 March. The races are the second legs of the SA Triple Crown and the Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara.
Stronghold, the ill-fated son of Danehill who stood at Summerhill Stud a few years back, has had two winners recently with Double Clutch taking home the umThombothi Stakes (Non-Black Type) over 2000m at Greyville and Supercede taking honours in the Umzinzi Handicap (Non-Black Type) over 1800m also at Greyville.