While the two Greyville races have been victims of a political accommodation of the Group One status of the colts and fillies equivalents in the Cape (and like both the Gauteng Guineas, have been reduced to Group 2s,) they remain Group Ones in all but name, with recent repeats of the KZN Guineas including the lofty likes of Imbongi, Noordhoek Flyer, Variety Club, Vercingetorix, and Legislate himself among its heroes; it seems this distinction was forgotten by local pressman obsessed with how Legislate would perform in this comeback run. The defection of local champion, Harry's Son from the Guineas field might have had something to do with it, but when Legislate was scratched from his engagement in the Drill Hall, the headlines continued to highlight six-year-old Ice Machine's victory in the race, rather than the exceptional performance by The Conglomerate in the Guineas.
Harry's Son's defection notwithstanding, this was a visually compelling effort from a horse that was reportedly only 75% race fit, and likely to be even better over further; if they're right on both scores, his connections could have a say in the "big one" on the first Saturday in July.
No doubt, this result will have stoked cartwheels in the Joey Ramsden stable as the Lonhro colt's path to the Vodacom Durban July is likely to be plotted via the 2000m Daily News (Gr.1), while for his other charge, Act Of War's workmanlike performance in the Winter Guineas in Cape Town signalled his readiness for the 1600m Gold Challenge (Gr.1); he was giving away 3kgs to the rest of the field, yet still came home two lengths clear. It may be premature to be classing him with Variety Club, but Markus Jooste's colt remains unbeaten over a mile and less, and wherever he goes from here, he's bound to put a bit of wind up the skirts of the older opposition. Imagine a showdown between him, Legislate and Bravura come Gold Challenge time; victory there will certainly bracket him in the "VC" league, which is saying something, considering Variety Club was the world's joint second highest rated horse in 2014.
While Mike de Kock's "Run For The Roses" in the Kentucky Derby did not quite rise to the heights we'd all hoped, in retrospect it was a mountain to climb, whatever Mubtaahij's merits. Barely a month ago, his impressive score in the UAE Derby (Gr.2) earned him a place in the lineup for America's biggest race, but he spent most of that time in quarantine at two ends of the world, as well as having to make the transatlantic pilgrimage in between. No horse has ever been asked to do that. Nonetheless, it was history-making not only for South Africa, but also for the fact that it was the maiden attempt at a run for the rose-clad sash for a desert Derby victor.
In the result, the race was a celebration for owner Ahmed Zayat, who'd been the event's runner-up owner three times before, including the sire of this year's ace, Pioneerof the Nile: his once-defeated American Pharoah made a determined run for the wire as the field came off the final bend, hauling in his principal rival, Dortmund, then drawing on all the stamina in his pedigree for an authoritative closing furlong. Ironically, the "Pharoah's" granddad, Empire Maker, was also a runner-up, though his great grandsire Unbridled, tasted the mint juleps in 1990. That's quite remarkable: winner, runner-up, runner-up, winner for four generations.
Across the "pond", Coolmore played Victor Ludorum with commanding displays in both the colts and fillies Guineas over Newmarket's Rowley Mile. Racing in Britain and Europe has never been more competitive than it is today, yet it's a sign of the dominance of the Coolmore stallions and their trainer Aidan O'Brien that he was completing his sixth victory in the 2000 Guineas, one short of the much-revered John Scott's record established as long ago as 1862.
If you'd witnessed Gleneagles' sublime victory as a juvenile in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Gr.1) on "Arc" day last October, you'd have known you were watching greatness on Saturday. And "greatness" it was, as the son of Galileo surged home, smashing the cream of Europe on his way. Superbly bred by the best stallion on the planet from an own sister (Your'esothrilling) to the "Iron Horse", Giant's Causeway, Gleneagles was born to be a stallion.
You'resothrilling (by Storm Cat) was bred to be good, named to be good and was in fact pretty good in her racing days for Team Coolmore, winning at Group 2 and 3 level in just seven starts. But anything she achieved on the track has been surpassed, almost in the blink of an eye, in her still-fledgling broodmare career. She has been aided in her success by repeat visits to the champion sire, but to have produced two Guineas winners from her first two foals propels her straight into blue-hen territory. Born a year and three days after his Irish 1000 Guineas-winning sister Marvellous, Gleneagles laid waste to a bumper field, his turbo-charged thrust two furlongs from home leaving some well-credentialed challengers toiling in his wake. Godolphin's French-trained raider Territories, rallied strongly to be best of the rest, but was no match for the "kick" from by Ryan Moore's mount.
For O'Brien, however, Gleneagles was merely extending a line of dominance in the race that started with King Of Kings in 1998 and continued though Rock Of Gibraltar (2002),
Footstepsinthesand (2005), George Washington (2006), Henrythenavigator (2008) and Camelot (2012). Anyone who has listened to post-Classic interviews with Aidan O'Brien, will know it is a customary part of his acceptance speech to deflect attention from himself and praise the team at home, but no matter how many times he says it, his appreciation for the back-room boys and girls at Ballydoyle and Coolmore never sounds trite. And that, of course, is the crux of the extraordinary success of an extraordinary empire. No bloodstock operation in the world could be better orchestrated through the creation of home-grown sires and selection of first-class breeding stock--than Coolmore, whose stallions were responsible for a third of the runners in this year's 2000 Guineas. From a quiet corner of rural Ireland, its power is felt throughout the racing world.