The unveiling of the South African Horseracing Museum at the TBA, Gosforth Park
(Photos : TBA / Jean Stanley)
Please click thumbnails above to enlarge…
OF SOUTH AFRICAN HISTORY,
A TRIPLE CROWN TEST AND INTERNATIONAL WARRIORS
We’ve become a trifle blasé about being “part of history” in this country.
We’ve lived through great political change, and are about to be subjected to another nation-changing shindig under the intense gaze of a fascinated world.
Yet I sense we’re not as breathless, honoured and excited about making history as we used to be.
One is reminded of that clichéed old curse: “May you live in interesting times.” It could well be said these are interesting times, yet so many people seem intent on whingeing, stirring up fear and loathing, and exhibiting tendencies of one colour or another.
In racing, history is rushing at us even faster. Indeed, it hove into view this week and threatens devastating strikes over the weekend.
A sidelight to the three-day National Yearling Sale that gets under way this evening, the well-appointed museum’s fascinating chronicles of racing heroes of yesteryear might inspire buyers to go that extra furlong to break bidding records at the country’s premier auction.
But the history-making is set to start earlier in the day, at 4.15pm, with Port Elizabeth’s unassuming Arlington racecourse the unlikely backdrop.
That’s when a phenomenal sprinter called Hear The Drums starts as hot favourite to eclipse the South African record for most victories. The seven-year-old gelding has already won 32 times, equalling a record set in the Dark Ages.
The gangly gelding, trained by Gary Alexander, has impressively won the first two legs of the multimillion-rand treble - the Guineas over 1600m and the Classic over 1800m - and now steps up to the 2450m of the SA Derby.
To win the Triple Crown, a horse must beat the best three-year-olds over distances from a mile to a mini-marathon - in eight short weeks. It’s a fearful test, and, if he passes it, Pierre Jourdan’s name will live in racing lore forever.
There’s further rich scope for history-writing at Turffontein.
In thoroughbred breeding literature, names of graded race achievers are always printed in bold - or black - typeface, and it’s the burning desire of every racehorse owner and breeder to gain this seemingly trifling recognition.
There are no fewer than eight “black type” races on the Turfies card - including the R2million Champions Challenge - and a herd of horses will compete for extra ink with absurdly high hopes riding on them.
Then, on Sunday, two South African rags-to-riches horses seek to write the country’s name large at the great racing arena of Sha Tin in Hong Kong.
Now who could be blasé about all that?
23 April 2010
HEAR THE DRUMS
Arlington Flying Five
24 April 2010
R1,5Million SA Derby (Gr1)
25 April 2010
HK$12Million Hong Kong Champions Mile (Gr1)
25 April 2010
HK$14Million Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (Gr1)
Extract from The Times
23 April 2010