Those that’ve made the annual pilgrimage will know that the Ready To Run gallops at Summerhill had evolved into a national institution over the first three decades of their existence. The dictates of a lower market have called for a more modest approach, now in the form of what one might term “private” gallops, where the object is to get them filmed for public consumption on television, websites and on social media. The popularity of the gallops among hard core racing people however, meant that there was still a nucleus of professional observers, leading trainers, champion jockeys and dyed-in-the-wool owners and racing fans at Summerhill on Thursday, notwithstanding the sudden change of date on account of a nasty weather alert.
And the horses. Especially the horses, more so as the word leaking from the assembly of various consignors was that this draft, if not the best ever, would at least rival the one that gave racing three Group One-winning sophomores just this past season, Takingthepeace, Hero’s Honour and Brave Mary, not to mention Chesneys van Zyl’s highly regarded Group One runner-up, Railtrip.
While it’s easy to forget just how good the 2016 vintage was, there was a solid body of opinion among the top horsemen in the camp that this was the draft of all drafts, and while predictions can sometimes stray in the world of the racehorse, knowing those gathered and the sheer weight of their experience, as a player you’d want to be paying attention.
Several of them were interviewed after the gallops, and were fairly unanimous in their praise. We won’t spoil the viewing on television for those of you whose curiosity has been aroused, other than to say that once the gallops are live in the public domain on Wednesday, it will be your turn to judge them.