Any one of four stallions, Dynasty, Trippi, Captain Al or Silvano could make a late claim for the national sires' title with a tad under three weeks of the season to go, while there remains a statistical prospect that the lead for the jockeys and breeders championships could still change hands. Gavin Lerena has been quick to capitalize on S'manga Khumalo's suspension in the chase for the rider's premiership, while we'd like to think, after leading the earnings table for eleven months, that we still have a sniff at eleven consecutive years atop the gross earnings log: the truth though, is that Klawervlei are just too numerous, and on the evidence of their two Group One victories on July day, too good, for us to turn the tables on them this year.
That said, the one contest that has no doubters is the one for top trainer, where Sean Tarry's annus mirabilis has taken him a furlong ahead of the field. Nobody deserves it more than he does. Tarry's alignment with great horses is deeply rooted in his association with South Africa's most successful owner, pound-for-pound, of the modern era, Chris Van Niekerk, and traces back to his first flag-bearer, National Colour, the mercurial globe-trotting sprinter whose grey coat was reminiscent of the original "flying filly", the old Aga Khan's Mumtaz Mahal. Tarry and Van Niekerk teamed up again with yet another flyer in Mythical Flight whose wanton destruction of the nation's premier speed machines in the Computaform (Gr.1) at Turffontein smashed a record that stands to this day. Successful Bidder, Pomodoro, Heavy Metal, Whiteline Fever and Halve The Defict are other luminaries whose photographs decorate the walls of Tarry's Randjiesfontein office, sporting the blue and red silks of his principal "guvner", though the story by no means ends there.
This year alone, this man, whose dedication and intelligence would guarantee him high office in any other discipline if he ever tired of his rituals at the racecourse, threw the saddles over no fewer than five entries in South Africa's most famous horserace. Whatever else it reads, his tombstone will one day be etched with the words "Master trainer".
For all its other challenges, this country has been the source of a raft of the world's finest horsemen, with a roll call as long as your arm of jockeys and trainers who've distinguished themselves not only at home, but in most of the major racing jurisdictions of the world. That Sean Tarry has reached the pinnacle of his profession this year was not only overdue; its a legacy our grandchildren are likely to remember decades hence.
Sean Tarry / Sporting Post (p)