Art Of War
(Photo : ERA) 



Sheikh Mohammed’s great racing extravaganza goes to the wire on Saturday evening. The racing programmes of most countries have taken centuries to sculpt, yet the Maktoum Family have managed to put together our sport’s most spectacular showpiece in a matter of a decade. Whatever else the Dubai World Cup meeting may be, it’s the undisputed leader in prize money. Simply put, it is racing’s richest day.

South African-connected horses have developed an enviable record through the exploits mainly of Mike de Kock and his compatriot, Herman Brown Jnr, in the past six or seven seasons. In two of the past three years, Mike de Kock singlehandedly took home a third of the evening’s six prizes, and last year, between him and Herman Brown, they accounted for 50% (or three) of the night’s best entertainment. What that equated to in Rand earnings, we’re not sure, but it must’ve been close to R50 million, a number that would’ve had a number of the world’s top racing countries sneezing.

Whichever way you look at it, what it did signal was the arrival, once and for all, of South Africa’s horses and South Africa’s horsemen on the world racing stage, and we have the exploits of these fellows to thank for the fact that our stock, about to go to the Emperor’s Palace National Yearling Sales, are now firmly in the sights of anyone looking for a good horse at a fair price. South African horses have no peers when it comes to value, simple as that.

Back to Saturday evening’s events, it’s unfortunate Imbongi won’t be lining up for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free, so he’ll be going to Hong Kong for the Group One mile a fresh horse, if that’s any consolation.

However, there’ll still be two graduates of the farm in action at a meeting which commences at 5pm, the first of which is Art Of War, who’ll be doing battle for the country in the $2 million Godolphin Mile. He’s been one of the revelations of the Dubai Carnival, and we’re looking for a bold showing from this nuggety little son of the emerging giant among South African sires, Kahal.

Muhtafal is represented by Gail Fabricius’ Summerhill-bred and raised Paris Perfect, erstwhile Horse Of The Year in the Eastern Cape. It will come as no small boost to that regions racing to know that a horse that started out in Port Elizabeth, has made the cut for the richest race in the world from his new base in Saudi Arabia, from whence we’re hearing good things from his trainer, Neil Bruss, about his prospects. Let’s not forget, he takes on some of the best horses in the world at a distance which is arguably further than his optimum, but you can never get a good man down, especially when his father is Muhtafal.

Whatever the outcome, you can bet on a great show, and we’ll all be rooting like hell from the Summerhill office when the games get underway.