(Photo : Summerhill Stud)
Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, once famously said: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, knowing it must run faster than the fastest lion in order to survive. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up, knowing it must run faster than the slowest gazelle in order to survive.
“Either way, when the sun comes up in Africa, you’d better be running!”
So appropriate. And while that may not have universal application, it certainly sticks with the sport of horseracing, and especially this week. Of all the racing weeks in creation, nothing beats Royal Ascot, never mind what the Aussies will tell you about the Melbourne Cup.
From an African perspective, the big one this week (Saturday on DSTV Channel 232) is the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Gr.1) which brings together the fastest horses on turf in the world. And South Africa will be there, too, in the form of the rocket, J J The Jet Plane. How appropriate.
Which reminds us of our own connection with the inaugural running of this time-honoured challenge under its new guise (formerly the Cork and Orrery, how odd! Only the English could think of a name like that!).
In 2002, the owners of the best sprinters on the planet did this race proud. After all, it marked the Queens Golden Jubilee. The World Champion Juvenile of the previous season, Johannesburg, was there. So were the celebrated stallions (these days) and the crack sprinters of those, Invincible Spirit and Kyllachy. And so was Malhub, son of the most desirable stallion on both sides of the Atlantic. Little known at that point and donning his owner’s “second set”, it wouldn’t be long before his was a household name.
Our Irish friends on course that day, swear Malhub saw Her Majesty in the Royal Box on his way to the start, and proclaimed “I’m comin home to meet you, Ma’m” In a matter of 72 seconds and a bit of change, that’s precisely what Malhub did.
One hot property. The prodigy that sauntered past Johannesburg the only time they met. A spine-tingling moment of utter superiority.
The height of summer. The height of class. The height of places.
Roll on Saturday.