Viewing entries in
UK Racing

Fame And Glory lands lucky 10 for Investec Derby

fame and gloryFame and Glory
(Photo : Tattersalls/Marler)

News from the UK’s Racing Post is that Fame And Glory has been allotted the “lucky” stall ten in Saturday’s Investec Derby, for which all 13 colts stood their ground at Thursday’s declaration stage.

Since 1984 seven winners - Sir Percy, Galileo, Generous, Quest For Fame, Nashwan, Reference Point and Shahrastani - have come from a draw in ten.

Favourite and Stanjames.com 2,000 Guineas winner Sea The Stars has been drawn in stall four, while Fame And Glory’s stablemate Rip Van Winkle will come from stall nine.

Paddy Power
make Sea The Stars their 11-4 favourite with Ballydoyle pair Fame And Glory and Rip Van Winkle inseparable at4-1.

Paddy Power spokesman Paddy Power said: “Rip Van Winkle may have slept for 20 years in Irving’s short story, but punters have not rested since Johnny Murtagh’s preference for the character’s equine namesake was announced on Tuesday.

“We can’t separate Rip Van Winkle and Fame And Glory and it’s a tight call which of Aidan’s two apparent leading lights will go off shortest.”

INVESTEC EPSOM OAKS : The 231st Renewal

john gosden investec oaks

John Gosden
(Photos : Team Talk/HKLM)

 

The 231st renewal of the Gr1 Investec Oaks to be run over a mile and a half on Investec Ladies Day Friday at Epsom Downs Racecourse , sees 10 fillies going to post with no surprises among yesterday’s scratchings.

 

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that with so few in the contest, the outside draw for owner George Strawbridge’s Rainbow View (Dynaformer) should not count as a disadvantage. The last two winners were drawn in double-figure stalls, and last year’s Gr1 Fillies’ Mile heroine is poised for the big day after a visit to the Downs for last week’s “Breakfast with the Stars” morning. Of more concern is her ability to rebound from a fifth in the Gr1 1000 Guineas on May 3, and see out the extra half mile.

 

“I’m very clear in my mind that she will stay a mile and a quarter, but I don’t know about a mile and a half - you can only find out when you race them,” trainer John Gosden commented. “In terms of the Guineas, it was down to the ground being like a road, and she hated it and looked after herself. Her work before the Guineas was very good, so it was not about not having trained on. I really like the two fillies Sariska (Pivotal) and Midday (Oasis Dream), who won their trials and set a very high standard along with Rainbow View so it is a good Oaks as the front ones are pretty smart.”

 

Jockey Jimmy Fortune is hoping Rainbow View’s Newmarket effort can become a distant memory by Friday evening and added, “I knew after going two or three furlongs there, I wasn’t going to win as she changed her legs before she hit the “dip”, so I wasn’t too hard on her because it was the start of the year. She came back from the race in good form and she got a strongly-run mile at two at Ascot, so you’d have to say she’ll definitely get a mile and a quarter and is bred to get a mile and a half.”

 

Clive Brittain is no stranger to success at Epsom and bids to roll back the years with Saeed Manana’s Wadaat (Diktat). While the May 24 Gr2 Oaks d’Italia runner-up boasts none of the credentials of the stable’s 1992 heroine User Friendly (Slip Anchor), connections are hopeful she can bridge the gap. “My filly is nice and I know on the ratings she has a bit to find, but she is in with a shout,” jockey Neil Callan said. “She saw the trip out well in Italy and, like all of Clive’s fillies, she’s fit and tough and will be going there on merit.”

 

Of the outsiders, Julie Wood’s The Miniver Rose (High Chaparral) needs to improve on her second to Apple Charlotte (Royal Applause) in the 15 May Listed Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury, which was the race used as a springboard to success for the 2005 Oaks heroine Eswarah (Unfuwain).

Her trainer Richard Hannon said, “The Oaks has been the plan for some time now, and The Miniver Rose deserves to take her chance. She is a quirky filly, but very talented, and since we moved her across from Everleigh to our Herridge yard she has behaved much better. She isn’t blessed with tons of speed, so the step up to a mile and a half should suit her. ”The going remains good, and Director of Racing Andrew Cooper said, “The ground is currently spot on and I am glad we took the decision to water when we did. I would have no hesitation in calling it good in the main. It is a little bit quicker in places, mainly on the climb up the back straight.”

Comment

Vincent O'Brien : Legends are few, but by golly they’re passing

vincent o'brien jacqueline o'brien aidan o'brienVincent O’Brien, Jacqueline O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien
2006 Ryder Cup Race Day
(Photo : The Curragh Racecourse)

Vincent O’Brien died Monday morning at his home in Straffan, Co Kildare, at the age of 92.

Widely acknowledged as Europe’s greatest ever trainer, the former master of Ballydoyle was the Champion trainer in Ireland 13 times, and also a dual Champion trainer in Britain on both the flat (1966 and 1967) and over jumps (1952-3 and 1953/4).

Born on 9th April 1917 in Churchtown, Co Cork, Vincent O’Brien started training in 1944. He soon switched his attention to the jumping game. He also trained the winners of three Grand Nationals in a row, (1953-5). Famous for his successful gambles, he had amassed sufficient earnings and winnings by 1951 to purchase the Georgian house set in 320 acres of parkland named Ballydoyle. Within a few years, he turned to the flat, winning his first Irish Derby with Chamier in 1953 and his second four years later with Ballymoss.

 

During the 1970’s Vincent O’Brien, along with owner Robert Sangster and his son in law John Magnier, established the Coolmore syndicate, just at the time when racing was changing from a popular sport to a multi-million pound industry. The process of changing yearlings – most bought from North America and many of them by Northern Dancer – into valuable Classic-winning stallions proved vital to the business, and Vincent O’Brien’s eye for a horse was invaluable.

To have trained the winner of almost every big race over jumps was achievement enough, but to have at least matched that on the flat is what made him unique. His astonishing record on the flat included 16 English Classic victories, 27 Irish Classics, three Prix de l’Arc deTriomphes and 25 wins at Royal Ascot.

Comment

J J THE JET PLANE WINS AT WINDSOR

JJ The Jet Plane
(Photo : Gold Circle)

 

The much anticipated British debut of leading South African sprint star, J J The Jet Plane, took place yesterday in the Listed Leisure Stakes at Windsor.

 

Making all the racing near the rail early on, J J The Jet Plane had his rivals in trouble by the furlong marker. The Mike de Kock-trained four-year-old drew away late for an impressive four-length victory under jockey Ryan Moore.

 

The son of Jet Master was racing for the first time since his win in the Gr.3 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai at the end of February, and Mike de Kock was pleased to be able to get a run into his charge before Royal Ascot.

 

“I’m relieved to win. It was lucky there was a race at Windsor for him. I thought it was a good win in a fairly competitive field. I’m very happy with him; he’s not had a big blow but this will certainly do him the world of good,” said Mike de Kock following the race.

 

J J The Jet Plane has now laid down his credentials for sprint success in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and, if all goes well, he may have a crack at the Gr.1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

INVESTEC SPONSORS ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIG FIVE

investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

Ask any student of racing twenty years ago which the greatest racing event in the world was, and they would’ve unhesitatingly answered the English Derby. Today the title is a vigorous contest between the “Derby” (as it’s commonly known), Paris’ Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai’s World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Japan Cup. Certainly, if not alone the greatest, the English Derby stands apart as the most famous.

For all that, who would ever have expected an upstart South African bank to become the Derby’s sponsor? Upstart, did we say? Yes, in global terms that’s probably an apt description, but Investec has always been an innovator, a “breed-shaper”, as we might term it in racing parlance, and that’s exactly what the local banking pacemaker agreed to this week for the next five years.

No doubt, the hand of Bernard Kantor, avid racing man and the fellow that bought us Count Dubois, was more than prominent in this relationship, which follows a £38 million revamp of the Derby’s home, Epsom Downs.

Did we leave out another marquee event when we counted the “big five”? Yes, we probably did, and that’s Royal Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which for almost two decades was sponsored by South Africa’s De Beers. The difference here is that, at the time, De Beers happened to be the world’s biggest diamond producer, whilst Investec has a way to go before it can claim the same status in the banking world. Maybe, just maybe, this is a precursor of what’s to come.

Well done, Investec. From one champion team to another, we salute you.

THE VALUE OF PEDIGREE

take the hintTake The Hint
Pretty Polly Stakes 2009
(Photo : PA Photos)

When General Louis Botha, most feared of the Boer generals, took command of his nation’s troops at the foot of Summerhill in November 1899, he knew what he was in for. Britain had already claimed dominion over two thirds of the earth’s surface, and here was a man about to engage the most powerful army in creation.

But this was a man who knew how cavalry, skilfully deployed, could turn the tide of a battle. As a farmer himself, he also knew the value of breeding.

Which brings us to the point. Today’s cavalry may well compete on more peaceful fields, but the contest is just as fierce, and the importance of breeding has never been more critical.

This past weekend at the Guineas meeting in Newmarket England, the point was well made for the umpteenth time. Last year we introduced two exceptional young stallions to our band (Mullins Bay and Stronghold), and both of their already outstanding families received an encouraging boost in the principal Derby and Oaks Trials respectively.

There has been many an outstanding racehorse, not to mention Derby winners, spawned through their exploits in the Newmarket Stakes over ten furlongs of the Rowley Mile course, and on Saturday Your Old Pal (by Rock Of Gibraltar out of a half sister to Mullins Bay,) made it two from three starts thus far as he got up in the dying strides for the victory. In the very next event, the time-honoured Pretty Polly Stakes, (the route the World Champion mare, Ouija Board took on her way to Oaks glory) Stronghold’s half sister (by Montjeu,) Take The Hint, was a comfortable winner in a field whose advertisements included several Group One performers.

Your Old Pal made an impressive six-length winning debut at Newbury last October, and is reportedly headed for Royal Ascot’s King Edward VII Stakes (Gr.2) on the 19th June, while Take The Hint’s next engagement looks like being the English Oaks (Gr.1) on the Friday of the Derby meeting at Epsom.

A BOYS CONSPIRACY : The Value of Mates

highland cow and calf postcard

So one old customer at Summerhill, whose time goes back almost to the opening of the gates, reminds us periodically of the value of good friends. We had a mutual pal pass away two weeks ago in the form of Sir Clement Freud, and Alec Foster, remembered for his association with Summerhill with his horses Steamy Window (Natal Oaks Gr.1), Cereus (Canon Gold Cup Gr.1) and Red Carpet Style (countless Grades Stakes races), has never been too far from his laptop when things of interest pop up, and he was quick to pounce on the reporting in England’s racingpost.com.

We shall charm you with a couple of extracts over the next few weeks starting with “Ruin stared me in the face. £10,000 was 15 years’ salary, a 200 acre farm in Suffolk, 20 times the average reason for jumping off Beachy Head”.

Quoting from Alec’s postcard to us (the face of which is depicted in this Highland Cow and calf) “I remember when he came to Summerhill to interview you for the Sporting Life. He was not easy either, but he was known for that. I do recall you asking him where he was staying, and he gave the name of a non descript hotel in Pietermaritzburg, to which you, rather mystified, asked why he should be there, rather than at Hartford House. He replied “It’s the nearest hotel to the betting office”. That was Sir Clement Freud.

Hong Kong Champions Mile Group 1 : POST MORTEM


Champions Mile Gr1 2009
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Mike de Kock is back in South Africa, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The man is a national treasure, and when it comes to the reputation of South African racehorses and their exportability, nobody’s done more for the game. We picked up on him shortly after he landed, and his feelings about Imbongi’s run (he finished just on two lengths behind the winner), was that he would’ve been a lot closer had he not lost ground on the bend. There was no explanation for it, other than the horse had a little bit of the “slows” midway through the race, yet he ran on resolutely, to get within two lengths of the winner, winding up 6th with a cheque in hand.

Mike’s feeling is that the setbacks his horses suffered in Dubai in the month leading to the World Cup, left them a little short in terms of their preparations, and he feels we’ll see a good bit of improvement when they start up their motors in England in the next month or two. Stay with us, there’ll be more to come from Imbongi.

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

commander john ford and alec fosterCommander John Ford and Alec Foster
(Summerhill Stud)

We have as guests at Hartford House a rather rare species, in the form of a church bell ringer. Commander John & Mrs. Anne Ford have been clients of Summerhill for more than a decade now, and they’re residents, in their normal lives, of a small village called Blakesley in Northamptonshire, UK. They’ve kept mares with us for throughout this time, and they make an annual pilgrimage, having a deep and lasting affinity for this part of southern Africa.

However, it is in another of her capacities that we pen this note, as Anne teamed up with a compatriot from the same village in a bell-ringing exercise at St.George’s Cathedral in Cape Town last Sunday. Her fellow campanologist was no less than the Honourable Gillian Foster, wife of yet another very long serving client of Summerhill. Alec Foster has been associated with us for just about all of the thirty years we’ve been in business at Summerhill, first as a client of Mick Goss’ law practice, and for at least the past two decades, as a keeper of his mares on the farm.

At this time of year, our friends come in every shape and size and from every corner of the world, yet this was an unlikely duo, in an unusual exercise at the southernmost tip of what the civilized world still calls the “Darkest Continent”.

WORLD DOMINANCE: DARLEY vs COOLMORE

coolmore darley table

Writing in the TDN this week, the world’s no.1 stallion commentator, Bill Oppenheim, touched on racing’s hottest topic: the trench warfare between the two superpowers, Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley. Bill’s story deals with the most recent recruits to their and the so-called “neutral” stallion operator’s line-up, and how they’ve located them strategically. This is serious stuff :

When you look at these 42 top-of-the-crop sire prospects as a whole, three things stand out. First, the rise of the Maktoum family as a force in the stallion market; they stand 16 of the 42 stallions on that list, divided equally: eight in Kentucky, eight in Europe. Second, we can see how Coolmore is sticking with the programme that got them there: very selective, the highest possible quality only, and mostly by their own, in-house, absolute top-drawer sires. Whereas Darley, in the last four sire crops, leads Coolmore in North America in top-of-the-crop prospects eight to two, in Europe it is only eight to seven. Darley’s biggest growth spurt was in Kentucky, in 2008 retirements.

The third notable point is that, with Coolmore based in Ireland and the Maktoums (Darley plus Shadwell) operating from Dalham Hall and the Nunnery in England, and from Kildangan and Derrinstown in Ireland, there has been very little left over for the “neutral” stallion farms in Europe, especially in England. Of the 17 top-of-the-crop “neutral” stallions we’ve identified, 15 stand in Kentucky, where there is clearly still much more diversity of choice. Only two stand in Ireland, Azamour at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, and Lawman at Ballylinch. None stand in England. Though that is the case, I must emphasize, only with the most expensive stallions. Some of the most successful sires among the 242 we’ve listed are sure to be among the 200 now standing for less than “top-of-the-crop” stud fees, but it is notable that the top commercial prospects from these crops in Europe are stationed exclusively in Ireland, or on Maktoum farms in England.

JOHN GOSDEN : Not just a pretty face

john gosden on horseJohn Gosden
(Daily Mail)

The only man at November’s Breeder’s Cup World Championship of Racing to come away with two victories, was Stronghold and Russian Revival’s trainer, John Gosden. Here’s a man who graduated from Cambridge University still confused about his future, and took a year off working in agriculture in Venezuela. The son of a distinguished horseman in his own right, the late Towser Gosden, John soon realised that despite a mind better suited to a professorial calling, he was going to devote his life to a career with horses.

That this was a choice of unusual wisdom, has been evidenced often enough, and the events at the Breeder’s Cup simply re-emphasised the extent of his tactical astuteness.

The intricacies of the turf and the exploitative strategic value of a life spent in observation and interpretation, was what made the difference for Princess Haya’s charge Raven’s Pass, in the big event on the card, the Breeder’s Cup Classic where he tore down the colours of the world’s highest ranked racehorse of the time, Curlin. This is Gosden’s account of how it happened……

“I learned a lot when I was on a show in the early 80’s with Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker and Charlie Whittingham. I was just a kid, but they were talking about riding on different surfaces – dirt, turf, firm turf, to loose wet turf, cuppy tracks, tighter tracks and so on – and they pointed out the most important thing was that if you want a horse to accelerate in the latter part of a race it has to be able to get hold of the track more than anything else, which is why on a cuppy track, or on a track that isn’t tight, or on loose turf it’s very hard to do that. The key thing about Santa Anita is that with the surface they are on now you can put your foot down and really spring off it.

The one thing that was very clear to me about Curlin, good horse though he is, he wins races by grinding them into the ground. He’s a relentless galloper. He just gallops and gallops, and like all dirt horses he’ll go the last quarter slower than the first but he’ll just stay on. That was where he was vulnerable, because if you can sit on him – and he was drawn beside us, so the game plan was always to track him – and you are still travelling at the quarter pole you are in business. We’ve got a turn of foot, and he hasn’t. We have what European horses are trained for – acceleration – and he hasn’t. Goldikova has it and Henrythenavigator has it. That’s where we caught him. I don’t think he’d ever had two horses come either side of him and I think it shocked him, and it shocked the jockey too, because he was in the perfect spot. On that surface a horse can really show you a burst of speed. We call that class in Europe. In dirt races you don’t see it happen. You think it’s happening but it’s an optical illusion. What it means is that the horse in front is dying and the other one is just staying on at the same pace. That’s why he was vulnerable, and that’s why we went for that race.”

(article by Graham Dench, Pacemaker December 2008)

Grand Prix motor racing is a sport followed by tens of millions around the globe, and its aficionados will tell you that it’s the tactical aspect of the sport that attracts them. Truth is this, and thus most times, it’s the fastest car that gets you home, provided there’s a modicum of competence behind the wheel. Motor racing is a limp fish though next to horse racing when it comes to the complexities behind the tactical appraisal of the possibilities of a contest, and it’s people like John Gosden and our own Mike de Kock, who separate themselves from the ordinary through their instinctive wisdom.

News from Afar : A Darley Flying Start Graduate at Work

stallion dansiliDansili
(Photo : Juddmonte)

South Africa’s Kevin Sommerville writes:

Work at Juddmonte is going really well. If you’re interested in horses this is a pretty fantastic place to be, surrounded by the likes of Dansili, Cacique, Rail Link, Zamindar and Oasis Dream. It is however the broodmare band that everybody drool’s over, Hasili (dam of 5 Gr.1 winners), Toussaud (Dam of 4) and the runners Heat Haze (Gr.1), Intercontinental (Gr.1), Banks Hill (Gr.1) and many many others.

As the weather has been pretty awful I haven’t been out the office much but come the summer I’ll be visiting all the foals of our stallions all over Europe. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see some spectacular farms as well as to meet some wonderful owners and managers.

I’ll be heavily involved at the sales come October and December next year and I’m looking forward to that. They seem to do things rather different over here; we have our top 3 stallions booked up already, on average about 120 mares! Dansili will once again cover a phenomenal book of mares! He could very well be the best sire son of Danehill in the future. His figures are phenomenal from very inferior mares! Keep an eye on him!

The Industry over here has received a heavy blow to the ribs (bit like the Aussies). Overproduction and a lack of prize money are a major concern. Issues not easily solved.

Juddmonte however sits in a pretty situation but still it’s hitting everybody hard! A major rethink of the industry is required.

This is probably not much info for the blog but as the weather improves; I’ll be getting out more which will be fantastic and I’ll have a few more stories as the year goes on.

Have a wonderful 2009.

Kevin

LEADING SIRES OF 2008

sadlers wellsSadler’s Wells
(Coolchaser/b2yor)

Northern Hemisphere GRADE/GROUP 1 WINNERS

STALLION SIRE LOCATION WINNERS
Galileo Sadler’s Wells
IRE
5
Giant’s Causeway Storm Cat
KY
5
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill 
IRE
4
Danehill Danzig
DEAD
4
Tiznow Cee’s Tizzy
KY
4
Kingmambo Mr. Prospector           
KY
3
Maria’s Mon Wavering Monarch
DEAD
3
Sadler’s Wells Northern Dancer
IRE
3
Street Cry Machiavellian 
KY
3
Unbridled’s Song Unbridled
KY
3
A.P. Indy Seattle Slew
KY
2
Chester House Mr. Prospector
DEAD
2
Dalakhani Darshaan
IRE
2
Danehill Dancer Danehill
IRE
2
Doneraile Court Seattle Slew 
KY
2
Dynaformer Roberto
KY
2
Gone West Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Indian Ridge Ahonoora
IRE
2
Montjeu Sadler’s Wells 
IRE
2
Muhtathir Elmaamul
FR
2
Nayef Gulch
ENG
2
Pivotal Polar Falcon
ENG
2
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill
IRE
2
Samum Monsun
GER
2
Smart Strike Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Tapit Pulpit
KY
2


Statistics from Thoroughbred Daily News

THE TAPESTRY OF LIFE: Always Rich in the Silly Season

richard haynes and mick gossRichard Haynes and Mick Goss

It’s one of the great pleasures of working at Summerhill that our lives are brightened by the regular visits of people from all over the world. Those that read these columns will remember that on Stallion Day this year, we were honoured by the attendance of people from 14 different nations, and while that’s probably a record of its own for any one day, it’s a fact of life here that we have people from all corners of the globe calling on us at different times of the year.

Linda Norval and her cohorts entertain people every day of the year (yes, somehow Christmas and Good Friday included) at the Summerhill Visitor’s complex, and often enough, a visit includes at least tea, if not a fine lunch.

Many of these people stay over, enjoying the wonders of Hartford House, and soaking up the atmosphere of an authentic African farm. At lunch earlier in the week, we had our long-time friend, Wayne Aldridge from Sydney (Wayne was the founder of the Equine Insurance Group when it previously traded as Delta Bloodstock), Richard Haynes from New Zealand Bloodstock, Dick and Anne Pemberton from East England, while the evening before we hosted South Africa’s favourite investor, Jim Hay’s English trainer Tom Tate and his lovely wife Hazel. Tom is a past trainer representative in the UK on the British Horseracing Board. For the record, Hazel, a talented trainer in her own right, is the sister of Michael Dickinson, the only man to saddle the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and both of them descend from one of England’s most famous dynasties.

Last Tuesday we were on duty again with Peter and Alison Brown, breeders of Outcome (crowned Champion Filly at the KZN Breeding Awards last weekend), ex CNA boss, Ian Outram and his wife Deidre, and Tony and Dale Feasey, buyers of last year’s top lot at the Ready To Run sale.

Just a few days ago, we were honoured with a visit by two legends of Australia, Antony Thompson of the spectacularly famous Widden Stud (at the top end of the Hunter Valley), and fourth generation success, John Kelly of the celebrated Newhaven Park Stud, where the likes of Wilkes, Luscan Star and Marauding made their names as the resident sires.

Students of the breeding game will tell you that there are very few farms anywhere that have survived successfully for more than three generations, yet Australia seems to be the gleaming exception, certainly in the case of these two properties.

Antony and John were here as ambassadors of Aushorse, the marketing arm of the Australian TBA, where Antony is the successor to John Messara as chairman, and John serves on the board of directors. We’re always honoured when men of this calibre visit us, and we always feel the wealthier (and indeed, smarter) for what they leave behind.

(Photo kindly supplied by Richard Haynes)

Comment

For the record : THE KZN BREEDERS AWARDS

kzn breeders awardsTeam Summerhill
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Anything we ever achieve at Summerhill is always the product of many people’s contributions, and in this case, as we’ve so often said before, we must start by remembering that we work with one of the best teams in the world. Besides the expertise of those who’ve had the opportunity to work abroad at the management level, there are those among our Zulus, from the people who clean the stables all the way to the upper echelons of those who make the place tick, that have had their hands in this scrum. It’s an appropriate time then, to remember we’re privileged to work with the Zulus here, some of the most gifted stockmen in the world. Their contribution has been immense.

Besides, there’s hardly a horse bred on this farm that doesn’t involve co-ownership, and so we must congratulate all of those people that were associated with the breeding and raising of Friday night’s winners, either in partnership or on their own. Here we mention the names of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; the late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum; Mike and Marty Meredith; Peter Brown, Dr Barry and Liz Clements, Robert Lynch, Stephen Gill and Angus Gold. All of them had a hand in these achievements, and our guys are standing at attention acknowledging their part.

Sprinter of the Year – Rebel King

KZN Stallion of the Year – Muhtafal

Stayer of the Year – Galant Gagnant

Breeding Achievement of the Year – Summerhill Stud

Three Year Old Colt – Imbongi

Stallion Prospect – Labeeb

Middle Distance Female – Outcome

Outstanding Older Female - Outcome


Well done.

Comment

Comment

RUDRA dominates Steinhoff Summer Cup

rudra winning summer cupRudra with Kevin Shea aboard
(Mike de Kock Racing)

Saturday’s R2million Steinhoff International Summer Cup saw the Mike de Kock / Kevin Shea Group 1 juggernaut deliver once again with 3-1 favourite, Rudra, taking the day’s spoils in dominant fashion.

Jimmy Lithgow writes in The Times that the four-year-old Parade Leader (Kingmambo) colt, who runs for the partnership of Tony Moodley, trainer Mike de Kock, Chris Gerber, Ferdie Ladeira and rugby commentator Paul Bayvel, raced clear after cruising into the lead at the 300m marker.

It was a fourth Summer Cup victory for Kevin Shea, who has had a tremendous year, winning on several continents on Mike de Kock’s horses. But this was his easiest victory in this prestigious race. Rudra was Mike de Kock’s eighth winner in the Summer Cup.

While Mike de Kock was doubtful after the race whether Rudra could beat the mighty Pocket Power in the J&B Met early next year, there is no denying that the horse is a class act.

Settled towards the back of the field, with second-favourite Smart Banker in his slipstream, Rudra travelled easily. Kevin Shea allowed stable companion Equal Image, also racing in Tony Moodley’s colours, to take the lead, with Speed Of Gold, Membrado, Eddington and Senor Versace well placed.

Prince Asad made a move at the top of the straight but once Rudra was given his head, there was no doubting the result.

French jockey Christophe Soumillon, deputising for the injured Anton Marcus, worked hard on Smart Banker on the outside as the field reached the 200m mark and had to take evasive action as one of the leaders fell back.

Smart Banker, who beat Rudra in the recent Victory Moon Stakes, ran on stoutly to finish as Kevin Shea looked back for the opposition and eased up short of the line.

Smart Banker’s stable companion, Senor Versace, ran on well for third, with Prince Asad fading slightly at the finish to take fourth.

Earlier, Christophe Soumillon, rated by many as the best rider in the world, rode superbly to win the Grade 2 Dingaans on Charles Laird’s inexperienced New Zealand-bred colt, Oracy.

This smashing individual must be one for next year’s Vodacom Durban July short list as he was having only his second race.

While Kevin Shea was the star of the show on Rudra, Christophe Soumillon demonstrated the dedication it takes to become one of the world’s top jockeys, spending hours in the past couple of days pounding the tennis courts at Sun City in a sweat suit to take off the weight needed to make the ride on Smart Banker.

A good crowd turned out to watch the feature events, as well as the four-race international jockeys’ contest.

But superstar Italian Frankie Dettori, Ireland’s Mick Kinane, Australian Damien Oliver, India’s Mallesh Narredu, England’s Darryl Holland and France’s Belgian-born Christophe Soumillon had no answer to the powerful South African team, even though Darryl Holland gave the visitors a good start by winning the first of the four competition races and also won the Grade 2 Merchants aboard trainer Joey Ramsden’s Something Else.

By the last of the four races, the South Africans had established an unassailable lead, courtesy of victories by Karl Neisius and Piere Strydom, but man-of- the-moment Kevin Shea provided the clincher in the ninth race, winning on Alec Laird’s Urban Reason.

The South Africans won by 60 points, scoring 179 to the Rest of the World’s 119.

Mark Khan, the South African captain, won the bronze saddle as the highest-scoring individual jockey.

 

Comment

Comment

INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS' CHALLENGE : The Leviathans of Racing

christophe soumillonChristophe Soumillon
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Saturday’s Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting sees the re-inauguration of the Jockey’s International concept, this time in “Test Match” format as they take on the cream of South Africa’s best, and it’s likely to be as great an attraction as the main event at Turffontein. The four-race International Jockeys’ Challenge is led by South Africa’s champion jockey, Mark Khan, and an international team which includes the irrepressible Frankie Dettori.

Twelve of the world’s top jockeys will be in action, with the visiting contingent including France’s flamboyant Christophe Soumillon, cool Irishman Mick Kinane, Australian legend Damien Oliver, top English jockey Darryl Holland and Indian champion Mallesh Narredu.

The South African team comprises Piere Strydom, Kevin Shea, Mark Khan, Weichong Mawing, Karl Neisius, and Anton Marcus, with Anthony Delpech as the reserve. All have been awarded Proteas colours, as has team manager Michael Roberts.

Comment

Comment

SHEIKH MOHAMMED awarded Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award of Merit

sheikh mohammedHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
(dailymail)

The Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit is awarded to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 20-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.

The list of past winners of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Niarchos Family, Peter Willett, Henry Cecil, David and Patricia Thompson, Lord Oaksey, Prince Khalid Abdullah, John Magnier, His Highness the Aga Khan, Peter Walwyn, the Head Family, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Frankie Dettori, John Dunlop, the Marquess of Hartington, Francois Boutin, Lester Piggott and Henri Chalhoub.

The 2008 Cartier Jury is made up of Michael Bell, Charlie Brooks, Alan Byrne, The Earl of Derby, Mike Dillon, Ed Dunlop, Douglas Erskine-Crum, Rod Fabricius, Philip Freedman, Tom Goff, The Lord Grimthorpe, Rolf Johnson, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Leo Powell, Ruth Quinn, Brough Scott, Sam Sheppard, Sir David Sieff, Johnno Spence and Howard Wright.

This year’s recipient of this most prestigious award is horseracing’s biggest investor and benefactor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing and breeding has been enormous. His interest in the sport started in England over 40 years ago and it has grown and developed into a worldwide empire.

He may be known on the global stage as Dubai’s leader as well as prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, but in the racing world Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is simply the sport’s biggest investor and benefactor.

Nobody in racing history has ever owned horses on the scale of Sheikh Mohammed and his equine empire is the culmination of an interest spanning more than 40 years.

While attending the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge, England, the 17-year-old Sheikh Mohammed and his brother Sheikh Hamdan went racing for the first time when watching the Noel Murless-trained Royal Palace win the 1967 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

A decade later he had his first success as an owner when Hatta, a 6,200 guineas yearling trained by John Dunlop and ridden by Ron Hutchinson, won a first prize of £968.60 in the Bevendean Maiden Stakes at Brighton on June 20, 1977. The filly went on to give Sheikh Mohammed a first Group success the following month when taking the Group Three Molecomb Stakes on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood.

It was the beginning of a passion for racing, first in Britain and soon globally, that burns even more greatly over 30 years later. He was brought up with horses. Descended from one of the most notable tribes in Arabia, Bani Yas, horses have been part of his life since childhood.

Bedouin culture and traditions are central to his heritage. The desert is a challenging, often harsh, environment so the ability to live in harmony with nature is vital to the people of the region. As a boy, Sheikh Mohammed learned to read the desert sands, to identify a single camel’s footprint in a herd of hundreds, and to understand the rhythm of nature, to be at one with the creatures of the desert.

Apart from tracking and catching scorpions and snakes, taming and training falcons and saluki dogs, it was horses that took up most of the young Sheikh’s time. He would share his breakfast with his horse on his way to school. Riding in his first horse race aged 12, he was drawn to difficult horses and earned a reputation for mastering impossibly wild horses, considered un-trainable by others.

Hatta may have been an inexpensive yearling purchase by Lt-Col Dick Warden, Sheikh Mohammed’s first bloodstock advisor, but the family were soon making their mark on a much bigger sale. At the 1979 Tattersalls Houghton Sale, trainer Tom Jones set a European record price of 625,000 guineas when buying the Lyphard colt Ghadeer for Sheikh Hamdan.

The Maktoum brothers also made a big impact on the other side of the Atlantic, regularly making headlines at the famous Keeneland July Sales of the early 1980s with Shareef Dancer, bought for $3.3 million by Sheikh Mohammed in 1981, winning the Irish Derby for the owner’s eldest brother Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed was keen to become involved in breeding and in 1981 bought first Aston Upthorpe Stud in Oxfordshire and then Dalham Hall Stud outside Newmarket, where Shareef Dancer retired at the end of his racing days. He also purchase Woodpark and Kildangan Studs in Ireland, after taking the advice of his long-term advisor, the late Michael Osborne.

The Sheikh’s maroon and white silks soon became a famous site on European racecourses, yielding success at the very highest level. Awaasif, a $325,0000 sales purchase, brought him a first Group One victory in the 1982 Yorkshire Oaks and three years later his home–bred Oh So Sharp won the fillies’ Triple Crown (the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger).

He enjoyed a great run of success in the Oaks at Epsom, via Unite (1987), Diminuendo (1988), who went on to take the Yorkshire Oaks, and Intrepidity (1993). Unite also landed the Irish Oaks in which Diminuendo dead-heated with Sheikh Mohammed’s Italian Oaks heroine Melodist.

Musical Bliss won another 1,000 Guineas in 1989 while there was also a 2,000 Guineas success in 1995 with Pennekamp, winner of the previous year’s Dewhurst Stakes. Meanwhile, Moonax (1994) and Shantou (1996) scored in the St Leger at Doncaster.

There were many other star performers during a golden era in the 1980s and 1990s including Pebbles, who won the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coral-Eclipse and Champion Stakes after being bought by the Sheikh, Indian Skimmer (1987 French Oaks and Prix Saint-Alary, 1988 English and Irish Champion Stakes), Sonic Lady (1986 Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Moulin), Ajdal (1986 Dewhurst Stakes, 1987 July Cup, Nunthorpe Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup), Soviet Star (1987 French 2,000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix de la Foret, 1988 July Cup and Prix Moulin), Sure Blade (1986 St James’s Palace Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and Sadeem (1988 and 1989 Gold Cup).

Other star names included Old Vic (1989 Prix du Jockey-Club and Irish Derby), Opera House (1993 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Coral-Eclipse and Coronation Cup), Belmez (1990 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), King’s Theatre (1994 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), In The Wings (1990 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coronation Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Sinsgpiel (1996 Japan Cup and Canadian International,1997 Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International), Barathea (1993 Breeders’ Cup Mile and Irish 2,000 Guineas), Carnegie (1994 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe), Alydaress (1989 Irish Oaks), Arazi (1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Tel Quel (1991 Champion Stakes), Winged Love (1995 Irish Derby), Ensconse (1989 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Shaadi (1989 Irish 2,000 Guineas) and Hailsham (1995 Italian Derby).

But the 1990s also marked the start of a new phenomenon, Godolphin. Just as Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley breeding operation remembered one of the three founding thoroughbred stallions, Darley Arabian, so did his family’s fledgling new international racing stable, the Godolphin Arabian.

Simon Crisford, who assisted the Sheikh’s then racing manager Anthony Stroud, was drafted in 1992 to manage the small initial team who would winter in Dubai before returning to Newmarket in the spring. Hilal Ibrahim had a short spell training the horses but it has been Saeed bin Suroor who has overseen most of the success.

Balanchine brought Godolphin a first Classic success in the 1994 Oaks while a year later bin Suroor trained the unbeaten Lammtarra to win the Derby for Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Dubai Millennium, who traced 25 generations back to Darley Arabian, became Sheikh Mohammed’s favourite horse when winning nine of his 10 starts, including the 1999 Prix Jacques Le Marois and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and most famously the 2000 Dubai World Cup, the richest race on the planet created by Sheikh Mohammed at the Nad Al Sheba racecourse in his home country.

There have been a total of 145 Group or Grade One successes in 12 countries worldwide for Godolphin via such luminaries as Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry, Sulamani, Dubawi, Swain, Sakhee, Doyen, Kayf Tara, Bachir, Halling, Dubai Destination, Ramonti and All The Good, who recently gave the stable a first top-level Australian success in the Caulfield Cup.

Alongside Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed has built up his Darley stallion and breeding operation to be the largest on the planet. There are over 50 stallions worldwide based at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, studs in Australia and Japan as well as the longer-standing British and Irish outfits still centred around Dalham Hall and Kildangan.

As well as standing home-grown stallions, Darley have invested heavily to get the best young prospects from elsewhere, among them New Approach, who won this year’s Derby in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s wife Princess Haya, 2007 Epsom hero Authorized, Teofilo, Manduro, Shirocco as well as many star names in the US and Japan.

Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase this year of US-based Stonerside Stables included ownership of Raven’s Pass (in whom he already had a share), winner of last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic for Princess Haya, and Midshipman, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has headed to Dubai ahead of a tilt at the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

As well as providing employment, both directly and indirectly, for thousands in the horse business worldwide, Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing stretches far beyond his own equine interests.

The Dubai World Cup continues to be the richest race in the world while next year the futuristic Meydan racecourse will be unveiled in Sheikh Mohammed’s home country to take Middle-Eastern racing to a new level.

Both Darley and Dubai-based companies such as Emirates Airlines and Dubai Duty Free sponsor a string of major races globally including the Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Champion Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and July Cup.

Sheikh Mohammed has made many philanthropic contributions, including the donation of £10 million to four charities following the sale of the Racing Post last year, the sponsorship of the stud and stable staff awards in Britain and the creation of the Darley Flying Start which helps young people gain a grounding in the industry on a two-year course.

Comment

Comment

YEATS : Finest Stayer of Recent Times

yeats and mick kinaneYeats with Mick Kinane aboard
(bbc)

For the third consecutive year YEATS brother of Summerhill stallion, SOLSKJAER, has won the coveted Cartier Champion Stayer.

Few horses have succeeded in capturing the affection of an admiring Flat-racing public like Yeats has done in recent times, but then only one other horse in history has managed to clinch the Gold Cup at Ascot on three successive occasions. Yeats joined fellow staying legend Sagaro in completing a hat-trick in the Royal Ascot showpiece in June ,and the Sadler’s Wells seven-year-old is rewarded with a third consecutive Cartier Champion Stayer Award.

With four Gr.1 victories under his belt before this year, Yeats was already established as the finest stayer of recent times. He made five starts in 2008, opening his campaign with a second successive win in the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April. True greatness then beckoned, and Yeats embraced it with a devastating five length defeat of Geordieland at Royal Ascot that saw him join the hitherto peerless Sagaro. A second Goodwood Cup was added as Yeats sauntered across the line seven lengths clear of Tungsten Strike.

Yeats suffered a reversal at Longchamp in the Gr.1 Prix du Cadran on 4th October as he finished a below par fifth to Spanish raider Bannaby. The great horse put that rival in his place on final start of the campaign when returning to Longchamp for the Prix Royal-Oak on 26th October. In a strong renewal of the Gr.1 contest, Yeats held the previous year’s winner Allegretto by a length and a half, with Bannaby back in fourth. Rather than a life at stud, Yeats seems set to return in 2009 when his adoring public will be willing him to a record fourth Gold Cup and perhaps another Cartier Racing Award.

Comment

Comment

ZARKAVA TAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR

zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”

Comment