KZN BREEDERS MILLION MILE
Clairwood, Turf, 1600m
29 June 2014
The Zulus have done it again. As they’ve have been doing since 1893. The KwaZulu-Natal Breeders Million Mile takes place at Clairwood racecourse on Sunday, marking its 122nd renewal, which makes the race four years senior to the Vodacom Durban July; after the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Summer Cup, it ranks as the third oldest event on the South African racing calendar. Its proximity to the Durban July means attracting the best of the local breed is always going to be compromised by the absence of those engaged in next weekend’s big day, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that throughout its history, its fields have been graced by thoroughbreds of distinction.
Without any doubt, its most-heralded hero of recent years was Jet Master, who won the race on three consecutive occasions in the years straddling the last and the present century, and whose own story is as close to the ups-and-downs of the game as any. His breeder, Hugh Jonsson, whose family briefly held the reins at Hartford, was a consummate stockman who made a name for himself in the world of cattle and strawberries, though his secret love was always with the nags.
An avid experimenter, he liked to build families on the basis of the theories he’d applied so successfully in his other endeavours in the world of animal husbandry. Commercial breeders wouldn’t have dared persevere with the paucity of Black type that punctuated the family which gave us Jet Master. His great grandmother, Let’s Laugh was the only name on his “page” with even a semblance of class to it; we knew her well, because she spent her life at Summerhill, and while she herself was well above average, a five-time winner with a place as a juvenile in the Allan Robertson Fillies Championship (Gr.1), she left nothing to write home about apart from the bonny little filly Pompeii, a daughter of our resident sire Volcanic, who made the history books with a decent effort in the same race.
Beyond that though, there were a number of failed attempts to revive the family, mainly because her owner, Dicky Dunn, was part of an “old boys” lunch club founded by Jim MacIntosh, a former chairman of the Durban Turf Club and the champion of the Mercedes Benz brand in Natal. The bonds of friendship behoved Dicky to support Jim’s stallions, come what may, though for all his business successes, Jim’s choice of stallions was not something he would’ve liked inscribed on his tombstone. The Let’s Laugh family slowly fell into disrepair and was dispersed.
I remember the day Jet Master was presented for sale as a weanling. By and large, the entry was a tatty gathering of the urchins nobody wanted, but here was a handsome brute of “yearling” proportions already, and despite his lack of commercial appeal, he topped the sale at a meagre R15,000. The rest, as they say, is history; the pedigree now reads eight Group Ones and he became the greatest South African-bred stallion of all time. Whoever said blue collars can’t go to Michaelhouse?
The field for Sunday is 15 strong, and it’s a tribute to the horses raised at Summerhill, that no fewer than nine of them know the taste of these old paddocks. Among the luminaries are last year’s winner Gitiano, a handsome Group One performing son of Mullins Bay, who took the inaugural running of the newly-dubbed “Million” last year, while the third highest rated three year old of 2013, No Worries, multiple Group winners, Classic Illusion and Extra Zero, and the recent Stakes winner Distinguished, bring their own class to the field.
There are two three year old colts in the line-up that could trouble the judges at the business end; one of them, Silva Hawk, is a Summerhill-bred carrying the colours of Wilgersbosdrift and Politician’s owner, Michael Javett for Sean Tarry, and who was a narrow second to Earl Of Derby in the Gauteng Mile. The other is Alec Laird’s Bezanova, who, like Earl Of Derby, wears Chris Gerber’s blue and yellow outfit. These two look like serious improvers, with Bezanova’s form just a length and a half off the ruling Vodacom Durban July favourite, Legislate, at his last outing. That’s good enough to win most horse races, and with his number 2 pole position, he’ll have first run on Silva Hawk, who’s got the 10 slot.
On his best form, No Worries is by far the best handicapped horse in the field, and if he brings his best game (which he hasn’t in his last four starts) there should be “no worries” for his fans, despite standing at the 14 hole when the starter calls them to order.
Whichever way you look at it, this is a respectable assembly of racehorses, good enough to make any region proud, and with the best riders in the land engaged, it promises to be a helluva contest. If history has anything to do with it, for the bettors it might pay to remember that at one time, the old Hartford team which preceded us here, sent forth eleven consecutive winners.
KZN Breeders Million Mile
|1||DISTINGUISHED||60.0||3||A Marcus||Charles Laird|
|2||GITIANO||60.0||6||S Randolph||Alec Laird|
|3||SILVER AGE||60.0||5||I Sturgeon||Jeff Freedman|
|4||XERXES||60.0||13||*D Dillon||Yogas Govender|
|5||KING OF TORTS||58.5||11||K Shea||Duncan Howells|
|6||KING JACE||58.0||12||G Lerena||Garth Puller|
|7||KING NEPTUNE||58.0||9||S Cormack||Dennis Drier|
|8||FESTIVAL OF FIRE||57.5||8||A Delpech||Mike de Kock|
|9||CLASSIC ILLUSION||57.5||15||G Wrogemann||Gary Alexander|
|10||NOBLE STAR||56.0||1||M Byleveld||Lucky Houdalakis|
|11||NO WORRIES||54.0||14||K de Melo||Gavin van Zyl|
|12||EUPHORIA||53.5||4||R Danielson||Johan Janse van Vuuren|
|13||EXTRA ZERO||53.5||7||A Mgudlwa||Sean Tarry|
|14||BEZANOVA||52.5||2||G Hatt||Alec Laird|
|15||SILVA HAWK||52.5||10||S Khumalo||Sean Tarry|
Summerhill-bred runners denoted by yellow
Linda Norval 27 (0) 33 263 1081
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