(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

Two things happened yesterday. The first was the draw for the R3.5 million Vodacom Durban July, “Africa’s Biggest Horse Race”, and the second yesterday afternoon, was the jewel in the crown of Royal Ascot, The Gold Cup.

We’ll start with the latter, as it constituted a new record. The imperious Yeats cantered away to his 4th consecutive victory in one of the world’s most famous horseraces. We know of no archy event on any calendar anywhere in which one horse has been so utterly dominant, and the fact that Royal Ascot witnessed it’s biggest crowd ever, is testimony to the belief that they came to worship him.

Of course, from a Summerhill perspective, the noteworthy feature of Yeat’s victory is that he is a 3/4 brother to our resident stallion, Solskjaer, who might even have been more talented were it not for the cruelty of injury. This is not a time though for comparisons as any 4 time winner of a race of this stature deserves his time in the sun, perhaps forever. As television’s John McCririck ventures, no other horse will ever do it again.

The finest compliment Solskjaer could pay to his younger brother, was in posting the highest average at the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales in April, where he not only secured the top Filly of the Sale, but out-pointed the Champion Sires Jet Master, Western Winter and Fort Wood, with his first crop.

And now for the July. The draw for any big race is a critical issue and so yesterday was a critical day for local owners, trainers and jockeys connected with the Vodacom July. For the past 3 years, Summerhill has had as many as 25% of the runners engaged, and while we’re not quite there this year, we will still have 3 in the Post Parade for the big one. Amazingly they drew 7, 8 and 9 - Thandolwami, Catmandu and Outcome), and while they’re not dominating the betting by any stretch, any one of these horses is capable of an upset on his or her day.

More on the July in the next few weeks.

vodacom durban july field linkClick above to view the
final field and draw for the 2009 Vodacom Durban July