While there’s a good deal of attention rivetted on the Vodacom July at this time of year, we can scarcely remember any other race generating quite as much chatter so far in advance, as the Gold Challenge (Gr.1) is right now. We all know that Imbongi’s defeat of Pocket Power, Bold Ellinore and Floatyourboat last Friday evening evoked talk of a showdown of the generations, which has rather overshadowed the fact that there are several more-than-legitimate contenders besides these fellows for the miler’s crown.
Just Thursday past, Charles Laird announced that Our Giant, winner of the Horse Chestnut (Gr.1) over the distance just two months back, would be having one more run in South Africa prior to his departure for Australia, and that will be in the Gold Challenge, which Charles considers to be his optimum trip. Beyond him, it’s reported in the market-place that Successful Bidder, who took the event last year, ran no kind of race in the Gomma Gomma after returning to scale with his visor clogged and plenty of mud in his eyes. He was trapped on the inside of the field for most of the journey, so took almost all the kickback off the rain-sodden track, and the conventional wisdom is that we should draw a line through his performance that day.
No doubt there’ll be other contenders emerging in the next few weeks, but for the time being, if the field comprised no more than those mentioned here, it would be nothing less than a proper championship event, which is exactly what it should be. We’ve probably not seen a better collection of quality milers for some time in this country, and the presence of a three year old of Imbongi’s credentials, adds a bit of pepper to an already-spicy mix.