Television personalities Paul Lafferty and Andrew Bon at Royal Ascot
(Photo : Lafferty At Ascot)
EMPERORS PALACE READY TO RUN GALLOPS
Summerhill Stud, Mooi River
Friday 19th October 2012
You all know the names of the personalities of the men that serve on the Ready To Run Judges’ panel. Without them, South African racing would be a dowdy old place. One of them has gone AWOL though, staying in Cape Town for a fiftieth birthday, which is probably as much a reflection of his own age catching up with him, as anything else. Step up Alec Laird, the man that liberated South African racing when he became the first trainer in history to grab a Group One east of Cape Town. Whatever else it reads, his tombstone will be etched with the words “Trainer of London News”. It ignores of course, one of the deepest pedigrees in the game, and a lifetime of achievement. He’ll be on board on Friday.
In a slight change to the format, Nico Kritsiotis joins Craig Peters in the commentary box, and stands alongside another new face in Paul Lafferty, in the convening of the Judges panel for Channel 239. Laff needs little introduction as one of the sport’s great haymakers, while Nico has etched his name among the greats behind the “mic”. Remarkably, we’ll have four of the world’s best race-callers on hand on Friday, Graeme Hawkins, Jehan Malherbe, “Eagle-Eye” Craig Peters and Nico Kritsiotis. They don’t come much better (or bigger) than that.
Reminds us of the story of the “mother and father” of all battles, which took place just 45 minutes from where the gallops will be staged on Friday. On that day, in early 1900, drawn together by dint of the peculiar circumstances of what had been happening in this territory for almost a century before, was one of the most extraordinary assemblies of men in history. Louis Botha, the outstanding general of the Anglo-Boer War and the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, was there. Alongside him, the man he accompanied to Versailles on the conclusion of the First World War, the man the world chose to write the charters for the League of Nations and subsequently for the United Nations, and the man Churchill nominated to be his successor as Prime Minister in the British War cabinet, Jan Smuts, he was there. The Englishman himself, arguably the most famous of all Englishman, Winston Churchill, he was there. Denys Reitz, Boer General and ironically, a Field Marshall thereafter in the British army and one-time Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa, was on Spioenkop that fateful day. And quite remarkably, the man who liberated India in 1947, the Mahatma Gandhi, was a stretcher-bearer on that mountain that day.
What chance our race-callers might be remembered in the same breath in years to come, for their attendance at the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Gallops in 2012!