south african horseracing museum 1
south african horseracing museum 1
south african horseracing museum 2
south african horseracing museum 2
south african horseracing museum 3
south african horseracing museum 3

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

mike moon
mike moon

Mike Moon

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.

Whatever.

In racing, history is rushing at us even faster. Indeed, it hove into view this week and threatens devastating strikes over the weekend.

The opening of the racing museum at the Thoroughbred Breeders Association HQ in Germiston on Wednesday came at a timely moment.

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.

Then tomorrow at Turffontein, Pierre Jourdan makes his momentous bid to claim the Triple Crown - and to join legendary Horse Chestnut as the only horses to do so.

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.

Imbongi and Lizard’s Desire vie for the Hong Kong Mile and the QE II Cup respectively.

Now who could be blasé about all that?

Date

Time (ZA)

Horse

Race

Distance

Track

23 April 2010

16:15

HEAR THE DRUMS

Arlington Flying Five

1000m

Arlington

24 April 2010

15:20

PIERRE JOURDAN

R1,5Million SA Derby (Gr1)

2450m

Turffontein

25 April 2010

09:55

IMBONGI

HK$12Million Hong Kong Champions Mile (Gr1)

1600m

Sha Tin

25 April 2010

10:35

LIZARD’S DESIRE

HK$14Million Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (Gr1)

2000m

Sha Tin

Extract from The Times

South Africa

23 April 2010