At a time when guessing the outcome of judicial proceedings has become part of the evening ritual for many South African households, you need to be extra vigilant making predictions in this game: long before this crop was enlisted for their “education”, the Summerhill team was touting them as the best ever, and that conviction has grown with every passing week. Our guys obviously harboured a few nerves going into Friday’s gallops as a result, mainly the apprehension as to whether the public would share their opinions. They needn’t have worried: to a man (and a woman,) the response was pretty much unanimous: in a year in which, for the first time, it wasn’t left to the judges alone, the broader audience voted with their feet: the best ever. Which, given the astonishing record of their predecessors is saying something.
On a day attended by the former Premier of KZN and the current Treasurer-General of the ruling party, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, as well as a good spread of the nation’s biggest-hitters, the whole gathering enthusiastically, and at times vociferously, voted to put their fancies on the board. It was a good day not only for the connoisseurs of our sport, but for the industry in general, a compliment to the horses as well as the energy and enterprise CTS brought to the proceedings; our only prayer now is to the pilots who carried the precious cargoes that attended, to get them safely to Sandton at the end of the month!
If you were sitting at Summerhill today, you’d be animated by the verdicts of the judges, especially when the Oscar Pistorious case warns us to avoid anticipation with conviction. There was universal admiration for the Visionaires and the zest they displayed at full tilt, a ringing endorsement of what happened at this year’s National Yearling Sale, where his first crop led all-comers by average. The exploits of his first runners in America have promised the world thus far, and on Friday’s evidence, there’s much for buyers to lick their chops for... watch below:
Not to be outdone, a number of judges were “bowled” by the first, and sadly the only crop of the World Cup Carnival ace, Bankable. All they need to do now, is produce a modicum of the talent that made him a Thursday night “must” in those days, and there’ll be more than a few delirious owners with tickets in the big race sweeps.
You might have anticipated it, but it’s always comforting to know there’s more in the tank, particularly as we rated his second crop ahead of his first, and that was the performance of the Brave Tin Soldiers: a fistful of them made the judges and the public’s fancies. Likewise, given their histories, you’d be forgiven for saying you expected it of the last Summerhill-bred Kahals and Muhtafals, who’ve been stalwarts of these gallops for many years, but the gamble involved in buying and reselling horses from foreign territories, is never without fear. For the first time ever, a single consignment carries the progeny of three of the past four champion sires of Australia, as well as one by the pretender to the throne, High Chaparral. The entire quartet, the Redoute’s Choice, the Exceed And Excel, the Encosta Da Lago and the High Chaparral, elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the gallery, and scarcely a list without them.
The process doesn’t end there though: our newest innovation this year was an invitation to the public to judge for themselves, and we arrived at work this morning to a healthy bunch of responses. Now that the gallops are up on our website (click here), and on the CTS website (click here), the process is open to you, our readers, to keep the judges honest when the field lines up for the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup next November. Please remember, it’s your five best colts and your five best fillies. Whatever you do, don’t let the judges’ opinions influence your thinking. You have the time at your disposal to sit back, pour yourself an agreeable drink, and take a hard, educated look, a luxury the judges themselves did not have at the gallops. No doubt, given the chance you have, they might want to tweak their own selections on second looks, but you’re the only ones with that opportunity now.