The closer we get to the 3rd November and the running of the inaugural R500 000 Emperor’s Palace Sweepstakes, the more we realise there is an embarrassment of riches among the graduates of last year’s Ready To Run Sale whose eligibility for this year’s big race becomes more confusing by the day.
When we last penned news on the likely candidates, we had not factored in those additional prospects which might emerge in the ensuing days. This weekend there were several more exceptional candidates. At the Vaal on Sunday, Mike de Kock’s Nip ‘n Tuck was a runaway winner by five lengths on her third start, while Matt Gold posted her fifth cheque from as many starts, picking up her second win by 3.5 lengths for Paul Matchett. These fillies cost R70 000 and R60 000 respectively, and their owners were the beneficiaries of the Summerhill “Three Cheque” payment scheme which applies to all horses bought by buyers in good standing with Bloodstock South Africa, totaling in aggregate R60 000 or more.
While Nip ‘n Tuck and Matt Gold were going about their business in Johannesburg, in the Eastern Cape, two more graduates from the farm’s Ready To Race programme (which embraces horses raised and sold off the farm as well,) witnessed a third victory by the top class Paris Perfect for Des Mclachlan and Peter Fabricius, while Ecole Militaire, a facile debut winner in late September, came back from last to post an excellent 2nd against older horses on his first novice start. He’s penciled to go to Johannesburg for the R500 000 purse the day before the Ready To Run Sale, which it’s worth remembering, takes place on Sunday 4th November at the TBA complex in Germiston. His top class brother Catmandu placed behind Kildonan at Grade 2 level last season, and vanquisher on his last start of the outstanding Braggadacio, was a graduate of the 2005 ready to Run.
Though all of these youngsters represent the form of last year’s draft, on the same East Cape card on Friday, 2005 Ready To Run graduate Rare Opportunity posted his 5th win for Greg Blank and company, a timely reminder of the fact that Graded winner River Plate and this year’s Storm Bird Stakes winner, Regal Runner are not the only top-class progeny of Champion Filly, Ring The Changes, who has a lovely National Emblem filly in this year’s version.