Watch Team Summerhill receiving the Equus Champion Breeder Award
(Image : JC Photos - Footage : Tellytrack)
SOUTH AFRICAN HORSERACING SEASON
The TimesWe won’t be hearing strangled renderings of Auld Lang Syne echoing through the racing barns of the land, but the year has indeed run its course, a new one has begun, and celebratory thrashes are being enjoyed.
We’re talking, of course, about the changing of the racing year on August 1 - the start of the 2013/14 season.
It’s often said that racing exists in a world of its own, and there’s truth in that. It’s a magnificent obsession for many protagonists, consuming their lives and leaving them with little time to reflect on that other tedious stuff that makes up the world around them.
Having their own year, at 180 degrees from everyone else’s, rather confirms this idea of a bunch apart. Not that racing folk are unfriendly. Oh no. But they’ve got so much to do to get those darn horses running for them that they can seem a little distracted.
Take the racehorse trainer, for example, who works longer, harder hours than most people in other jobs (certainly journalism).
He’s up in the small hours for morning gallops; then supervises feeding, grooming, medical attention, farriery, mucking-out, lunging, afternoon walking, admin, bedding, feeding again, more nursing, blanketing and even a soothing good night word for the valuable resident of each box to waft the dopey critter off to sleep.
Many other players, even punters, are also absorbed in their herculean, time-consuming tasks of making a living from a frantic, fragile, frustrating business. Some find great success and become champions - and they’re the ones partying right now and who will receive Equus Awards anon.
Another icon of present day racing, Piere Strydom, was a runaway winner of the jockey championship - a title he dominated in the 1990s but hasn’t pursued in recent years. “Striker” notched up 210 winners, 51 more than the incumbent, Anton Marcus - who was troubled by injury.
The highlight of the Equus Awards banquet is always the Horse of the Year announcement. The pundit’s favourite is Variety Club, the wonder miler who was unbeaten in five races over the year, including two Group 1 contests.
But there are other candidates, including Vodacom Durban July victor Heavy Metal, who also has two Group 1s to consider. Three-year-old filly Cherry On The Top grabbed the coveted and most-elusive Triple Tiara with nonchalance.
Then there’s popular favourite Beach Beauty, a feisty little filly who landed two Group 1s and is owned by people who clubbed together to race her in memory of a beloved friend and relative who died prematurely.
We look back at all these heroics and say it’s not been a bad racing year. But, now, about this next one…
Equus Awards 2013
International Achievement Award
Champion Two-Year-Old Colt
Champion Two-Year-Old Filly
Along Came Polly
Champion Three-Year-Old Colt
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly
Cherry On The Top
Champion Older Male
Champion Older Filly / Mare
Champion Sprinter (1000m - 1200m)
What a Winter
Champion Miler (1400m - 1600m)
Champion Middle-Distance (1400m - 2200m)
Champion Stayer (2400m+)
Silvano - Maine Chance Farms
Akinfeet - Lammerskraal Stud
Outstanding Stallion Achievement
Judpot - Varsfontein Stud
Breeder Award - Exceptional International Achievement
Shea Shea - Klawervlei
Media Award - Print
Media Award - Television
Apprentice of the Year
Mike de Kock
Owners of the Year
Ingrid and Markus Jooste
Horse Of The Year
Extract from The Times