Vangelis wins race number 13 at Arlington racecourse for Gavin Smith
Vangelis wins race number 13 at Arlington racecourse for Gavin Smith

Click above to watch Vangelis making it win number 13…

(Image : Supplied - Footage : Tellytrack)


And it’s well worth singing. We have a real old pal who’s ailing a bit at the moment, and can do with a tonic. Our relationship with Robert and Robin Muir goes back to Pat Goss’ Durban July celebration party in 1946, when the smallest horse in history, St Pauls, rolled his field in record time. Robin’s mother was the hostess at the Kew Hotel, for a victory party that raged for two days, and the fact the Muirs are patrons of Summerhill 65 years later, is testimony to the value of good friends.

On Thursday, our mutually owned seven-year-old gelding, Vangelis, came home for the 13th time in his career, pushing his earnings ever closer to the million Rand mark. After five consecutive third places, this was a welcome turnaround and a compliment to the skills of his trainer, Gavin Smith.

There’s a tale attached to Vangelis however, as there is to most good horses. The day he was born, our Foalcare manager, T.K.Nkabinde, proclaimed him a “Derby winner”, and while you may say there have been many of those stories and that he didn’t win the Derby, he’s given us just as much pleasure as one which did. Long before he was weaned, Vangelis came up with a lame shoulder that plagued him for two years of his life, and we wondered whether he’d ever reach the racecourse. That he did, and he did it well, writing his record in black and white. His history of injury though, made him a difficult sell, and it took us close to his third year (he was still on the farm at that stage) to place him. Robert Muir was on safari in South Africa, and he took a couple days out to show his friends Summerhill and the delights of Hartford House.

On a typically fresh autumnal morning, he and his mates accompanied us to the track to watch some horses work, when Vangelis and a bright chestnut with a white blaze, by the name of Imbongi, worked together. They were equally impressive, and Robert indicated he’d like to invest in both.

Before he reached Durban on his return journey, he phoned to say that one of his advisors had suggested he leave the Russian Revival horse out of the package, and wondered if that would be in order. Of course it would be; we had no end of faith in Imbongi, and it wouldn’t be long before he was placed as well with another mate, erstwhile Jockey Club chair and ambassador extraordinaire, Ronnie Napier.

You now know Vangelis’ record, but it’s worth recording that Imbongi went on to become South Africa’s Champion Three-Year-Old Miler, he was a Group winner in the UK, and the victor ludorum at the Dubai Racing Carnival in 2010. His earnings stood beyond R8million at the point of his retirement last month.

There’s an adage in all of this. The likes of Emperor Napoleon, Bold Ellinore and Amphitheatre are a few more of those who were left behind on the farm after the sales, as was this week’s big hero, Black Wing. Who knows what bargains are lurking on our tracks as we write?