South African Breeders Championship
(Photo : iKind Media)
SOUTH AFRICAN RACING SEASON 2010/2011
Summerhill’s ascent to the summit of Thoroughbred breeding in South Africa for the seventh consecutive year, was complete Sunday with the conclusion of the 2010/2011 racing season. No team in our sport has ever visited the victor’s podium at the Equus National Racing Awards seven times in a row, and this lot deserve the highest praise. It’s a privilege to get up in the mornings and go to work with achievers of this magnitude, and just as great a pleasure to do so in the knowledge that we’re working with the noblest creature in the world, in one of the earth’s great environments. It’s more than fifty years since the Birch Bros strung together this number of championships, and they set the benchmark for the world. Even they though, would concede that it’s a very much more competitive world today, and while the margin of this championship is not quite what it’s been in recent years, we’ll take it, with both hands!
The indomitable Mike de Kock emerged once again as the Champion Trainer with a runaway win, while Anton Marcus (234 wins) turned the tables on Anthony Delpech (225) in what turned out to be one of the tightest jockey’s championships in recent years. Delpech was quick to quip Sunday evening in the Greyville parade ring, that his stakes earnings were well ahead of any of his adversaries, and he’d settle for that, if consolations meant anything!
The race for Champion Sire was a straight and equally tight contest between Jet Master and Captain Al going into the final week of the season. Jet Master held a slender R75,000 lead, and sealed the deal as Jet Jamboree annexed the prize in the penultimate event of the season, the Darley Arabian, at the expense of Solskjaer’s accomplished son, Ice Axe, who ran a great race (as a late December foal), conceding 2kgs to the winners. Charles Laird has some big plans for Ice Axe going forward, which include a crack at the R2million Summer Cup (Gr1) in November.
In as perfect an evening for racing as you could wish for, the Canon Gold Cup (Gr1) meeting was a triumph for trainer Sean Tarry (as Aslanbeat his stable companion Kolkata for line honours in South Africa’s greatest staying race), as well as for Gavin van Zyl who “exacta’d” the Champions Cup with The Apache and Bulsara, in all likelihood crowning the three-year-old Champion of his generation. The winner was bred down the valley from us by the Scott Bros as was last year’s hero, Orbison. The Scotts have been around since Rip van Winkle, and are honoured as the breeders of one of the game’s greats, Politician. Summerhill client, Wincy Chow, is the deserved owner of the winner, which was denied the opportunity to display his abundant talents in Hong Kong earlier in the year, when his departure from our shores was denied by the outbreak of horse sickness in the Western Cape.
In other related Group Ones, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifah Al Maktoum was once again in the headlights with the Mike de Kock-trained Amanee, a spectacularly bred daughter of the leading English sire, Pivotal, out of a half sister to none other than Kingmambo. If she never does anything else, she would be a highly prized broodmare in any band anywhere in the world, including that of the Niarchoses, whose family Kingmambo hails from.
Finally, the R3,6 million yearling, Potala Palace, paid tribute not only to his purchase price, but also to his underrated sire Singspiel, as he waltzed off with the honours in the Premier’s Champion Stakes for among others, the Olympic champion, “blade runner” Oscar Pistorius, and Michael Azzie, whose second victory it was in the race, following the Summerhill-bred Imperial Dispatch well over a decade ago.
Finally, Captain Al was a deserved champion among Juvenile Sires for the third time, while our own Northern Guest fell just short of taking his world record-breaking 10th consecutive Broodmare Sires title as Aslan’s win in the Gold Cup drove the final nail into those aspirations. That Northern Guest was still second to Elliodor is a tribute to a horse who, in his early years served very little in the way of quality mares, and whose first daughters at stud made it as broodmares despite his opportunities, and mainly on account of the genetic potency he imparted to them. There is little doubt of his contribution to Summerhill’s seven championships, and his place of reverence in our history will be forever enshrined.
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