(Photo : Gold Circle)
“WEST SIDE STORY”
As startling as Checcetti’s 5,25 length romp for Mike de Kock at Turffontein on Saturday may have been, the big news of the week must surely have been the Summerhill-based stallion, Way West’s six winners in the past fortnight, culminating with Queensway’s victory on Sunday for Summerveld-based Bennet Bulana.
Earlier in the week, de Kock’s Igugu put up her hand as a serious Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup aspirant, with a four length victory at the Vaal, to maintain her unbeaten record. The ink was barely dry though, when the same stable produced both Checcetti on Saturday and then Inkanyezi, a stirring debut winner Sunday at Clairwood, among the likely favourites for the R1,5 million prize on 6th November.
Reverting to Way West, he already has the Highveld’s Juvenile Champion Filly, Waywest Goddess, in the race, and it’s conceivable the stallion could now have as many as seven nominees for the event, when the tickets for all of Honolulu, Bussell, Danehill Darling, Sucha Wonder, Nobukhosi and Queensway go into the hat for final acceptance. Elsewhere in this publication, it appears Way West has only Champion Sire, Western Winter ahead of him at the top of the Three Year Old sires’ table, and you can bet your life the fellows in Mooi River are rubbing their hands in the knowledge that they have 14 Way Wests lined up for the big sale on Sunday 7th November.
The Ready To Run itself has attracted more than 160 entries for this year, which means that breeders have subscribed next year’s running of the “Cup” with at least R1,6 million of the envisaged R2 million prize money. Summerhill’s contribution alone exceeds the million Rand mark, making it the single biggest breeder sponsorship of a horserace in the country. Speaking from the farm, their Group Business Manager, Heather Morkel, said “putting a meaningful sum back into the game, was the least we could do to thank the best customers in the world.”
It takes something extraordinary to get a seasoned racing man excited, but the buzz at last year’s Cup prompted two of our sports veterans, Ronnie Napier and Alick Costa, both former chairmen of the Jockey Club, to remark that it was a long time since they’d known such an atmosphere on a Gauteng racecourse.
This race certainly gets the juices going.