Trophy display at the Summerhill Gallops
(Photo : Leigh Willson)
“EMPERORS PALACE READY TO RUN 2010”
“Hindsight is an exact science”, they say, and while in racing it’s never going to be quite “exact”, making your judgement after you’ve seen a horse gallop is a lot closer to the real thing than having to do so with the “walk-up” of a conventional sale. The increasing popularity of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale is the best evidence of the value of being able to make your pick after you’ve clocked the gallop.
In what was a “world first” at the time, Summerhill solicited the expertise of a panel of judges to provide guidance to would-be buyers at their gallops, which take place on the farm about three weeks before the sale. They didn’t stop there though : they invited some of the country’s leading horsemen to participate. These men, despite their own interest in the sale, have served this purpose selflessly. Mike de Kock, Joey Ramsden, Jehan Malherbe, Michael Roberts, Graeme Hawkins, Michael Azzie, Eamonn Cullen and Dean Kannemeyer and the convenorship of Craig Peters, revered judges by any stretch, have added a unique dimension to the sale, endorsed by the growing attendance at the gallops. They no longer fall into the “nice-to-attend” category. If you’re serious about racing, this is a “must”.
The panel’s scoreboard over the past few years includes the Graded Stakes winners, and Grade One performers, Imbongi, Phunyuka, Umngazi, Galant Gagnant, Art Of War, Winning Leap, Pierre Jourdan, Fisani and Havasha, a roll call in earthly terms to rival the word of God.
Just a few weeks back, the news broke of a proposed increase in the stake for the associated Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup from R1,5 million to R2 million. Simultaneously, the stakeholders announced the introduction of a series of five trials in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, to facilitate guaranteed opportunities of a run for would-be candidates which might have faced elimination in the maidens otherwise.
Getting a run though, doesn’t necessarily get you into the race. Such was the quality of last year’s entry that 29 of them were already winners, so the organisers have inaugurated a second panel, along the lines of the Vodacom Durban July. From October forward, the NHA’s Roger Smith, Phumelela’s Patrick Davis and Gold Circle’s Graeme Hawkins will publish a merit list, reflecting qualifiers above the line, and providing connections of those below it with an idea of what they need to do to get over the line.
There’s R1,5 million at stake this year, and if the history of subscription for this event repeats itself next year, there’ll be R2 million up for grabs in 2011. It’s about the best deal in racing.