(Bethany Carlson/Summerhill Stud)
There’s always a great deal of hype around Africa’s greatest horserace, the Vodacom July, but for true merit, there’s nothing to match a weight-for-age or condition event, in which the likelihood of the best horse succeeding is strong.
Saturday’s Champion’s Cup brings together last year’s Horse Of The Year and major aspirant for the title again this year, Pocket Power; Dancer’s Daughter, for whom a case could be made as the best filly to race in this country, and of course our own Imbongi head and shoulders the standout three-year-old miler of the season.
Pocket Power aims to string together his fourth Gr.1 of the season, having previously added the Queens Plate, the J&B Met and a dead-heat with Dancer’s Daughter in the Vodacom July to his long retinue of major career successes, while Dancer’s Daughter goes for her fifth Gr.1 of the season. Imbongi is a triple Gr.2 winner of three races all deserving of Gr.1 status, though its no fault of his, in the newer scheme of things, that those races were made Gr.2’s. He dominated both the “ Guineas ”, and subsequently recorded a facile victory over his elders including three champions in Pocket Power, Floatyourboat and Bold Ellinore, in the Drill Hall Stakes at weight-for-age at Greyville. His only defeat since his first Guineas victory at a mile or less came at the hands of Dancer’s Daughter (to whom he was conceding one kg) in the Gold Challenge (Gr.1) where he went down a length.
This time around, he gets three kgs from her and four from Pocket Power, and we think that the only thing that stands between Imbongi and victory in what the press are now dubbing the race of the season (they’ve forgotten the Gold Challenge already!) is whether or not, after a break, he will see out the 1800m. Keeping our feet on the ground, we need to recall the fact that, at that distance, he didn’t quite see it out in the S.A.Classic Gr.1 at Turffontein, where he cut through the field like a knife through butter, only to find the final furlong beyond his reach.
We live in hope, and we’re dying for Saturday.