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Spring Garland

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.

National Yearling Sales : What a Sunday!

“BIG SALE DIARIES - Part 1”

As big days go, it doesn’t get much better, especially if you’re in the Summerhill corner. Two Group winners, three Group seconds, and an impressive juvenile in the second all added up to something approaching R600,000 accumulative earnings for the day. It could’ve been better though, as one wag commented, “If only the wind had been blowing our way, and the three seconds had made it home!”

On a day in which fortunes might have been made, if our Australian, French and English friends had kept the faith (but typically deserted us for those raised in “greener” pastures) there were a number of notable performances:

o LABEEB finally came home, notching up a consecutive treble including a double in the Derby and Oaks Trials for the one man who put his hand up very early on, Ormonde Ferraris.

o Charles Laird and Markus Jooste achieved an historic trifecta with a one-two-three in the R1million Horse Chestnut Stakes, only to notch up another graded stakes victory in the next event with Rebel King.

o If your business is selling horses, having a graded stakes winner related to one of your entries on the eve of its appearance in the ring hopefully contributes a little extra to the bottom line, so Rebel King’s swoop in the dying stages of the Senor Santa not only took him another step closer to Champion Sprinter honours, but also added value to his yearling brother Uncle Tommy, who became the sales-topper (first and second sessions) yesterday afternoon – more on that later.

o That’s not the lot though, as Lot 305, Imbongi’s half sister by Solskjaer saw her page significantly lifted this weekend with juvenile Mahubo’s Grade 3 third on debut, and Spring Garland’s magnificent defeat of the nation’s second-rated female runner, She’s On Fire in the time-honoured Gerald Rosenberg Stakes G2.

o Not to be outdone, the evening meeting at Greyville kicked off with a trifecta straightliner for KAHAL, who notched up three in rapid succession.

Another great day at the office….