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Champions Day

Champions Day 2015


Champions Day 2015

Wylie Hall, "heartbreak horse" of the 2014 Vodacom Durban July, showed just what a classy performer he is as he stormed to victory in the R2-million President's Champions Challenge at Turffontein on Saturday.




Louis Would Be King / Andrew Bon

SA DERBY (Grade 1)

Final Leg of SASCOC SA Triple Crown

Turffontein,Turf, 2450m

26 April 2014

jack milner racing express
jack milner racing express

Jack Milner

Racing ExpressThis is Africa’s richest race meeting and it’s got the ingredients of a Hollywood epic - Louis The King will be bidding to make South African horseracing history in the R2-million SA Derby, the Pick 6 pool is set to top R5 million and in between the amazing racing action you can take in all the fun of an Intercontinental Village.

Nine feature races will be run including the SA Derby, which shares top billing on a mega racing programme with the R2-million President’s Champions Challenge, one of the country’s major races.

The SA Derby is also the third and final leg of the SASCOC SA Triple Crown, Africa’s richest series of races for three-year-olds. Horse Chestnut is the only horse to have won the Triple Crown since its introduction in 1999 and today Louis The King is bidding to become the second. The gallant Summerhill-bred Pierre Jourdan came bitterly close in 2010 just finding the distance too far in heavy going in the final hurdle.

Winner of five of six career starts, Louis The King skated home by 5.25 lengths in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Gauteng Guineas over 1600m at Turffontein on 1 March.

Four weeks later he overcame ill-fated Mister Cricket by 0.50 lengths in the second leg, the 1800m SA Classic, and put himself bang on target for the R2-million bonus offered for winning all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Can he do it? Some may say he’s the best horse in the race and the handicappers rate him lengths better than any of his rivals, but that’s no guarantee of fame and glory in a series rightly billed the “ultimate test for three-year-olds”.

Trainer Geoff Woodruff has to produce Louis The King at the top of his game for the third time in just eight weeks, plus this will be the colt’s first venture beyond 1800m.

The good news for his fans is that speed and class rather than stamina are what really count in the SA Derby and it’s very much in his favour that he’s a laid-back campaigner, which will enable jockey Robbie Fradd to conserve his mount’s energy until the right moment in the 2450m marathon.

Tim Woodruff, assistant-trainer to his dad Geoff, has no worries about Louis The King staying and pointed out that once upon a time the SA Derby was thought to be his best chance of winning a Triple Crown leg.

Win or lose it’s going to be nail biting and Louis The King will bring the house down if he wins.

Don’t write off trainer Alec Laird’s charges As You Like and Bouclette Top, who were only 0.60 lengths and 1.50 lengths behind Louis The King in the SA Classic. They are uncomfortably close to Louis The King on that form and Bouclette Top could improve over this longer distance, but neither’s overall record matches that of Louis The King.

Of the others champion trainer Mike de Kock’s runner Ilitshe is improving fast but he’s taking a huge leap in class and has yet to show he can run in this class.

Whatever you do, be sure to catch Champions Day at Turffontein racecourse or on Tellytrack DSTV Channel 239 – you will not see better racing action in 2014!

Extract from Tab News




Cherry On The Top Horse
Cherry On The Top Horse

Cherry On The Top

(Photo : The Times)


Turffontein, 27 April 2013

Mike Moon
Mike Moon

Mike Moon

The TimesSuperstition abounds in racing. Fans have “lucky” hats they wear on the racecourse. Many refuse to wear anything green. Even the great Terrance Millard, trainer of six Durban July winners, had a pair of lucky socks.

I met a trainer who wore the same pair of red underpants whenever his horses competed. It paid off as he won the Summer Cup, though by then those rods were in tatters.

A partner owner of mine believed his mere presence was a jinx on winning and, at race time, would walk resolutely off the course into the nearby café for a few puffs on a fag as our horse galloped. The nag won just twice from dozens of starts but, for my mate, that was evidence enough of the efficacy of his strategy.

Such mysterious forces don’t usually bother me. But I am a little concerned that lately when I’ve written about horses or connections ahead of a race, they’ve failed to meet expectations.

The highlight of today’s Champions Day meeting at Turffontein is the bid by Cherry On The Top to claim the Triple Tiara by winning the Wilgerbosdrift Stud SA Oaks - completing three victories in the daunting series.

Ormond Ferraris, trainer of Cherry On The Top, recently chased a TV camera crew from his yard, apparently because he didn’t want to be jinxed by media hype.

So, given my record and Ferraris’ sensitivities, I’m loath to write about the big moment.

I won’t dwell on how bookmakers are offering prohibitive odds of 1/6 on Mary Slack, Wilgerbosdrift’s owner and sponsor of the Oaks and Triple Tiara, handing the R1million series bonus cheque to her very own mum - Cherry On The Top’s owner Bridget Oppenheimer.

I won’t witter about keeping it in the family. Anyway, I’m sure Mary won’t appreciate jokes about her mother not needing the extra few bob. After all, Mary has said the sponsorship is to encourage the breeding of quality fillies in an industry she cares fervently about - and she clearly never had mater in mind when she got out her purse.

I’ll also not drone on about Mrs O’s record of a dozen or so wins in the Oaks, dating back 50 years.

Instead, I’ll focus on the host of other big races. In the President’s Champions Challenge, where anything could win, I’m going for Master Plan (16/1) and Shogunnar (6/1). Sorry for that.

Red Ray (5/10), in the SA Nursery, is rumoured to be dynamite and watching a potential superstar in action might be worth the visit to Turfies on its own.

In the SA Derby, bookies reckon Tellina (16/10) is a shoo-in, though I caution that any of the maturing three-year-olds might relish the gruelling 2450m they’re trying for the first time. Wylie Hall at 8/1?

Then there’s the Computaform Sprint. But, go on, you place your own curses.

Extract from The Times




Igugu Triple Tiara
Igugu Triple Tiara


(Photo : JC Photos / Summerhill Stud)

Champion’s Day, English 2000 Guineas,

Queen Elizabeth II Cup and Kentucky Derby

No doubt there are other contenders for the title, but in the sum of the events scheduled for the next fortnight, they don’t get much bigger. This weekend alone, South Africa presents Champion’s Day at Turffontein, featuring the Summerhill graduate Igugu’s tilt at the first Triple Tiara in history, the SA Derby, the Champion’s Cup and the Computaform Sprint (all Gr1), among eight graded stakes on the card. The United Kingdom stages the first of their Classics, the Colts and Fillies versions of the Guineas, and Hong Kong celebrates the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Sunday, with South African connected entries, Mike de Kock’s River Jetez and Herman Brown’s Gitano Hernando, among the fancies.

And then the Americans get busy on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 May with their Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby respectively, and for which you will get first hand coverage from Summerhill’s personal representatives at Churchill Downs. There’s a local connection in the Oaks, where Drakenstein Stud’s Trippi, has the ruling favourite, R Heat Lightning.

All of these races will be featured in video form on this site, so that our fans can satisfy their thirst for the best in the business.



If you take a walk down memory lane, you’ll very quickly reach the conclusion that the Computaform Sprint is in all probability the defining race on the South African sprinting calendar. In the last ten years alone, the names of Tommy Hotspur and Golden Loom (2 x’s) precede a succession of quite the most outstanding sextet of sprinters imaginable. Starting in 2002 with Laisserfaire, National Currency, Cataloochee (who had to get past six times Equus Awards nominee, Nhlavini to take the honours,) National Colour, Mythical Flight and J.J.The Jet Plane, you’re quick to realise what kind of a contest we’re in for.

This year is no different, as the horse who’s constantly had to take on these famous exponents of the art of sprinting, the Summerhill-bred Rebel King, is among those going to post, and he really is the one carrying the standard for the older brigade, though the second highest rated of the older horses is another graduate of our paddocks, Battlestar Express.

That said, the talk is about the youngsters right now, and here Warm White Night and Private Jet carry the tag of the young pretenders. Interestingly, stable jockey Anton Marcus has opted for the mount on Warm White Night, while Andrew Fortune is aboard our gladiator. They’ll have to be good, we think, as a win here for Rebel King would almost certainly close the door on the sprinters’ championship.

THE SA DERBY : SA's richest event for three-year-olds


The South African Derby has a rich tradition of producing great horses, and they’re not just great for winning this race, but they have to have the stamina, the talent and the guts, (and plenty of it) to prevail here. Turffontein is renowned as one of the toughest tracks in the world, and especially for its murderous 800m strait, which has broken more hearts than you’d care to remember.

Don’t forget too, that when they’ve repulsed all foes of the conventional Derby distance, (2400m) at Turffontein they’ve still got to find another fifty, for some odd reason, and Saturday won’t necessarily be the first time the lead changes two or three times again in that space.

For the three-year-olds walloping themselves down the lung-busting stretch for R1.5 million on Saturday, anything can happen, since none of them have been tested at the distance, and it’s all up in the air. You’d have to say though, that on class, the obvious horses are Cherise Cherry and Sporting Boy, especially with the withdrawal (sold to Hong Kong) of Mount Hood. We’d not be dismissive though, of the claims of Labeeb’s son, Magical, winner of his last three in a row including the Derby Trial, or Fenerbahce for that matter, who at his best has shown himself entitled to be ranked with the better three-year-olds in the nation. He’s been below par in his last two though, and something’s been amiss, though it comes as a considerable reassurance to see Andrew Fortune claiming the ride. For the record, he was a R425,000 graduate of the Summerhill 2007 2007 Ready To Run draft.

The other Summerhill engage, Mr Softee, comes off a gallant second to Magical in the Derby Trial at his first attempt beyond 1600m, and it may just be that he’s been waiting for this moment to show his best. Curiously, top jockey Sean Cormack takes the ride.

THE CHAMPIONS MEETING : A Big Day for Summerhill


There can’t be too many race meetings in the world that boast eight Graded Stakes races, yet that’s what racegoers can look forward to Saturday at Turffontein, and if the last few months are anything to go by, we can count on some big hitting contests. For Summerhill, we have sixteen footsoldiers on duty in the Graded races, but for the time being, we’ll concentrate our comments on the three Grade Ones, kicking off with the top-biller, the Champions Challenge (Gr.1) for all of R2 million.

There are a lot of pundits who would make the quartet of Smart Banker, Likeithot, Senor Versace and Crown Of Power from the Charles Laird stable a “shoe-in” for the laurels, but we’re not sure it’s that cut and dried. Much will be claimed by the connections of Buy And Sell, Surfin’ USA (whose mother Fenn Tarbitt-owned Palm Beach Gold is a resident mare at Summerhill), Forest Path and Zirconium, while Ormond Ferraris will be hoping that his gallant mare, She’s On Fire, is able to reproduce the run which carried her into second spot last year.

Charles Laird may well have four aspirants engaged in the big one, but we’re not without our own hopes, headed up by the horse that managed second place in the event a year ago, Catmandu, on-fire Thandolwami, and the heroine of the prestigious Gerald Rosenberg Stakes at her last start, Spring Garland, while Steve Sturlese’s El Padrino rounds it out. There are some doubts about the stamina limitations of Thandolwami and El Padrino, but the former has managed a decent draw for the first time in heavens-knows-how long, and he seems to have a love for Turffontein and its long strait. How many times has this fellow been beaten by the fact that he’s run out of space at Greyville, and we only have to go back to November to see him running within a quarter length of Likeithot on precisely the same weight terms as they meet on Saturday? For what it’s worth, Hartford hosted Champion Jockey, Anthony Delpech over the Election holiday, and he believes only altitude can deny Thandolwami his due. Some recommendation from a world class rider.

The fact is, Summerhill graduates make up 25% of the field in what is one of the richest races in the nation, and that tells you all you need to know about their upbringings.