Over many decades, the old SA Guineas threw up one great horse after another. Indeed, as an event, it has the highest average merit rating among its placed horses of any race for three-year-olds on the South African racing calendar. How’s that for an event which our programmers believe to be worthy of only Grade Two status these days? And Saturday’s outcome more than vindicated the race’s traditional billing, pitting with very few exceptions, the best three-year-old milers in the country against each other.
From a Summerhill perspective, we’ve provided the heroes for the event two years in a row, but in each case we’ve been cast in the role of “giant killers” rather than as the giant himself. Last year, dual Cape Classic winner, JAY PEG, came to Durban in imperious form, having “short-headed” Summerhill graduates EMPEROR NAPOLEON and PICK SIX in each of the Cape Guineas and Cape Derby, only to find a fellow that had grown up in the self same paddock as that formidable duo in DYNAMITE MIKE. “Dynamite” had been lurking on the back of some very solid form, and he came on late to make “easy meat” of the last furlong and the outcome of the race. And we all know now that JAY PEG has since climbed the proverbial mountain to the pinnacle of international success against some of the world’s best “milers” in the $5million Dubai Duty Free (Gr1).
This weekend, up against a considerable challenge including Cape Derby ace, RUSSIAN SAGE, no fewer than five of the sixteen entries (30%) were from Summerhill, and it was IMBONGI that stole the laurels in a pulsating finish to confirm his status as the Nation’s number one miler of the Classic generation. And he was faithfully followed home by PERFECT SEASON, ART OF WAR and a flying THANDOLWAMI (watch him in the Daily News 2000 next month) to make four of the top six off the farm.
IMBONGI was an unsold graduate of the 2006 Ready To Run. He was subsequently syndicated through the intervention (and intuitive eye) of no less a man than previous Jockey Club Chairman and South Africa’s racing ambassador, Ronnie Napier, and has provided more pleasure for the Napiers, the Fleischer family and Owen Liebbrandt than you’ll ever know.
His half sister, SPRING GARLAND, incidentally won the Gr3 Acacia Handicap just a few weeks ago, and he has a brother (by National Emblem) scheduled for November’s Ready To Run sale.