emperors palace ready to run cup

Turffontein, Turf, 1400m
1 November 2014

The Emperors Palace Ready To Run sale and its associated race, the “Cup”, has always had an air of destiny to it. To start, it was the first sale of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, it may even have been the first in the world, initiated in the shade of the old oak tree outside the farm office. It’s well known that on that historic occasion, there were fewer customers in attendance than there were farm staff and sales organisers, but the gathering, as you might’ve expected from a sale that has reached its present heights, was laced with class, sporting celebrities like Gary Player, Mike Procter and Johnny Watkins, and on the glamour side, the former Miss World, Penny Coelen, among a bevy of polo players, her husband Mickey Rey included.

Our return to South Africa from Europe last week was suspended in Johannesburg by an important imperative: the final subscriptions for this year’s eighth renewalof the Emperors Palace Ready to Run Cup were in, and the prize money for distribution on the first Saturday in November needed to be settled among the stakeholders. Before we announce the number, let’s not forget that in the interim, the sale and the race have attracted as their patrons, Their Majesties King Letsie III and Queen Masenate of Lesotho as well as Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco; as a “history-maker”, it already has no seconds, but here was another of those moments. At R3.85million, the 2014 edition of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup will rank as the all-time richest race in South African history.

To put that into perspective, it will take a tad over 80 seconds for a field of this class to complete the 1400 metre journey, which means they’ll be running for the best part of R50,000 a second, every stride of the journey! For what it’s worth, fifty thousand is just about as much as the winner takes home for all its exertions in a maiden race on the Rand these days, and a good bit more than in other centres. It’s time for everyone associated with the race to take a bow, the sponsors, the TBA, Phumelela, the Racing Association, the breeders and especially the buyers, who’ve embraced the concept with both feet, demonstrating what you can do when your heart is right and your mind is willing. Summerhill’s own contribution of around a million, is the biggest breeder sponsorship of prize money on the continent.

It’s only approaching its eighth renewal, yet the honour roll of the Cup is already replete with the names of great horses, Igugu, Imbongi, Pierre Jourdan, Fisani, Hollywoodboulevard, you name them, and this year’s event is shaping up as no exception. Speaking to trainers over the past few weeks, it’s apparent they’re about to unpack a boatload of prospects, though if the field were to go to post tomorrow comprising only those candidates that have won so far, it would already represent a formidable contest. Charles Laird is in the “box seat” at the moment, with the explosive five-length Group winner Rich Girl and Alesh Naidoo’s Group-performer, Nisa’s Machine; Mike de Kock unveiled the 4.5 length-winning debutant Kosava, for Danish investor Hubert John Strecker on Wednesday, while Louis Goosen produced a “bullet” in Way West’s daughter Celine, who trumped the Turffontein weekend field by five. Freshman sire Brave Tin Soldier, has three prospective candidates, with Gavin Van Zyl’s Iwo Jima arguably at the top of his list at the moment, though from what we’re hearing, the stallion might have as many as half a dozen in the top twenty by the time the judges are troubled for their selections.

Last year’s sale was dominated by money from Hong Kong, and in stacking up more than 25% of the proceeds, it was the best-patronised foreign spend in the land. The talk is that besides Mike de Kock’s first-timer for his Hong Kong clients, Roy Magner is also sitting on a couple of well-related gems he has yet to let go.

It’s early days yet, but if history repeats itself (which it has a knack of doing at the Ready To Run, we can expect a shoal of quality performances from as-yet-uncovered prospects, to cloud the water. Whatever happens between now and November, you can be sure the senses will be tickled: expect the temperatures to spike!

Enquiries :
Tarryn Liebenberg +27 (0) 83 787 1982
or email tarryn@summerhill.co.za