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“Let’s all sing Imbongi’s praises”
Extract from The Times
The GeeGees : Mike Moon
An imbongi is, of course, a praise singer in Zulu and Xhosa culture – the guy in traditional gear who heralds the arrival of an important leader on grand occasions. Whistling and waving sticks, the imbongi yells out the achievements and virtues of the approaching big cheese.
We used to love it so when President Mandela’s imbongi did his thing, affirming our devotion to Madiba and his deeds.
Praise singing of our high and mighty has lost its spark. Perhaps it’s due to post-’94-miracle cynicism. It can’t be that we don’t believe the big shots have any virtues. Surely not.
The most excitement generated by an Imbongi of late has been among the British racing establishment.
The horse from Mooi River has only raced twice in the UK, yet this week the respected Timeform agency gave him a lofty rating of 121.
This places Imbongi among the top half percent of horses racing in the world today.
There’s talk of jetting him across the Atlantic to Chicago in a fortnight’s time for a shot at the prestigious Arlington Million.
This is far removed from the sorry sight at a thoroughbred auction in Germiston 18 months ago when the young Imbongi left the sale ring in ignominy after failing to attract a bid from the assembled clever clogs of South African racing.
He went home to Summerhill Stud in the Midlands where champion breeder Mick Goss – a truly clever chap who’d loved the colt from day one – put him into race training in hope that he’d eventually make it to a track.
Summerhill had thought out Imbongi’s pedigree carefully, mating sire Russian Revival (Timeform 125) to a daughter of another world-class racehorse, Foveros (120). For lineage anoraks: the Northern Dancer (Russian Revival’s grandsire) cross with a Teddy line mare had produced the legendary Nijinsky.
Imbongi is proof that sometimes a plan comes together.
Racing doyen Ronnie Napiervisited Summerhill, took a shine to Imbongi, and formed an owner partnership with the stud farm and a few other friends.
It was all the encouragement Imbongi needed. Winning both the Gauteng Guineas and KZN Guineas, and whipping Pocket Power in the Drill Hall Stakes, he became the best middle distance horse of his generation.
Sheikh Khalifa of Dubai bought in and it was off overseas.
After scooting to victory in a grade 3 event at Newmarket, Imbongi ran a close-up third in a grade 2 at Ascot. The latter race was described as the best mile form in the world this year and Timeform passed judgment.
The chestnut with the handsome head is finally being taken seriously. Time to start yelling.
Aforementioned Pocket Power might also race overseas soon. But first the great one has a date at Clairwood in the Champions Cup today – and will surely atone for his fiasco of a run in the Durban July.
Click above to experience Imbongi’s last two runs in the
John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes and Ascot Summer Mile Stakes