Well, at least something is rising! The past fortnight has felt a little like Armageddon, though South Africans can hardly say it’s unique; this country of ours has come back from the brink so many times, it’s almost as if political events are sent to test us.

The silver lining however, was there for everyone at Greyville to see yesterday, when Sean Tarry’s Africa Rising grabbed the laurels in the R250 000 Byerley Turk (Gr.3) with a hands-and-heels steering job from another rising star, Lyall Hewitson

Of course, the son of Visionaire had given notice of his abiding talent with a surging finish in the Premier’s Champion Stakes (Gr.1) last July, and he’s always enjoyed the esteem of his champion conditioner. That said, unlike most of us, he didn’t enjoy his trip to Cape Town for the summer season, though it’s possible the events down there came a little too soon on the back of his exertions in Jo’burg. 

Completely refreshed yesterday after a 113 day break, he was up against a few highly-regarded Classic aspirants, principally the horse that went to post as the backer’s favourite, Copper Force, who’d run the nation’s highest-rated three year old, William Longsword, to a length and a half in the big CTS US$500 000 race on Sun Met day two months ago. You’d have to think both colts needed the run after their layoffs, though Africa Rising probably had more to forgive with an additional month and a half going into this one.

On the strength of this victory, it seems we could be looking at a serious Guineas contender: it wasn’t the fact that he won, it was the way he did it and what he beat that mattered, with Hewitson motionless apart from the odd push of his arms cajoling his mount to pick it up and go clear.

At a time when value matters more than anything else in this game, prospective buyers at the upcoming big sales in Jo’burg would do well to examine Visionaire’s numbers. A quick look at the NHRA’s stats reveals a stallion sitting comfortably in the National “top five” among sires of Three Year Olds in most categories, earnings per runner, percentage winners etc, and while he’s compromised by the fact that he’s well short of some of his rivals in terms of representatives, he’s nonetheless giving plenty of cheek despite it.

Commenting on their seventh Black type performer by Visionaire, Summerhill sales supremos Tarryn Liebenberg and Thabani Nzimande were unanimous in their recollections of Africa Rising as a youngster: “He was a typical athletic, fluid-moving son of Visionaire with the big ‘motor’ we’ve come to expect from them. Visionaire is dominant for the type of horse he gets, and now with just his second crop of three year olds, we seem to have really grasped the recipe; the horses we’re prepping for Jo’burg are up there with the best Visionaires we’ve consigned, and might even surpass our earlier efforts. The great thing about them is they have superb temperaments, they can handle any amount of work, and on race day, they’ll give you everything they’ve got”.

Sires of Three Year Olds by AEPR (40 or more runners)                                                                

Captain Al - R 83 337                                  
Silvano - R 77 911                                   
Dynasty - R 74 051                                   
Trippi - R 74 020                                  
Visionaire - R 58 770                                   
Gimmethegreenlight - R 58 557                                   
Pathfork - R 54 935                                   
Elusive Fort - R 52 051                                   
Kahal - R 46 990                                   
Var - R 44 467                       

Sires of Three Year Olds by Winners to Runners (40 or more runners)   

Captain Al - 60.08%
Trippi - 57.70%
Visionaire - 52.30%
Gimmethegreenlight - 50.70%
Dynasty - 49.00%
Pathfork - 47.70%
Silvano - 46.10%
Elusive Fort - 41.90%
Kahal - 38.10%
Var - 36.40%