galant gagnantJimmy Lithgow’s Summer Cup pick, Galant Gagnant
(Gold Circle/Summerhill Stud)

With the Gomma Gomma dropping out of the sponsorship race, the Summer Cup under the generous hand of Steinhoff’s Group CEO, Marcus Jooste, is back in its rightful place as South Africa’s third richest horserace, with an enhanced stake of R2,000,000.

Yet that’s not all this time-honoured event has to offer this weekend, as it comes with the additional attraction of the renewal of the Jockey’s International, pioneered in the old Transvaal more than 40 years ago, by the legendary likes of Sandy Christie and Wally Segal during their tenure as General Manager’s of Turffontein and Gosforth Park respectively. Who will ever forget the spectacle of those bigger-than-life clashes between the colossis Lester Piggott, Ron Turcotte (remember SECRETARIAT?), Willy Carson, Fernando Toro, and the older Gianfranco Dettori, father and mentor to racing’s greatest name of the modern era, Frankie Dettori?

Meanwhile the focus of today’s script is the race itself, and the fact that Summerhill has no fewer than four entries headed by the Group One performing GALANT GAGNANT; the rapidly improving THANDOLWAMI; JAY PEG’s Guineas nemesis, DYNAMITE MIKE and dyed-in-the-wool veteran, FORK LIGHTENING. According to Jimmy Lithgow, writing in this weekend’s Sunday Times, the horse they all have to beat is GALANT GAGNANT, an eye-catching fourth behind the top-notch Our Giant in a preparation race at Turffontein over 1400m earlier this month.

This four-year-old was a short-head second behind the Dubai-bound Russian Sage in the Daily News 2000 (Gr1) at Greyville, and if his subsequent disappointing runs in the Vodacom Durban July and the Champions Cup can be overlooked, he seems to be peaking at just the right time. Anthony Delpech has the ride while the stable’s first jockey, Kevin Shea, will be piloting Rudra.

Another big chance is Charles Laird’s Smart Banker, an impressive winner of the recent Grade 2 Victory Moon Stakes when he had Mike de Kock’s Rudra just over a length behind him.

Of the older horses, Prince Asad has the class and the stamina to win for Geoff Woodruff, whose stable has recaptured its form of old. Stable jockey Mark Khan will partner Geoff Woodruff’s obvious first choice, the younger Aluminium. The latter appears to be somewhat overrated by the handicappers though, and capitulated tamely when challenged by Smart Banker and Rudra in the Victory Moon Stakes.

Charles Lairds third runner, Likeithot, was a gutsy winner of the Grade 2 November Handicap, but may battle to beat Thandolwami, a fast-finishing second on that occasion. KwaZulu-Natal trainer Craig Eudey will be going all out to achieve a ground- breaking success in the Summer Cup and Thandolwami, who has something to find with Galant Gagnant on their Daily News 2000 form, cannot be discounted.

If you’re looking for a long shot the out of form She’s On Fire is lengths better in soft going while Membrado, second in last season’s Canon Gold Cup at Greyville, is not short on stamina. The latter’s stable companion, FORK LIGHTENING, tends to rise to the occasion and rates a place.






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